Review by Oren Murasaki
"Simply put: Racing at it's best, and in every aspect."
Gran Turismo 3 was a highly anticipated game and very worthily so. As a matter of fact, the delivering capability of this game was tremendous, screaming excellence in almost every aspect. The game set a unique name for itself and at the same time reflected on what people loved in previous GT games . . . at least for most. Quite frankly, GT3 was (and probably currently is) arguably the greatest racing simulation option for a console, likely to be passed only by GT4. It was assumed that with a newly hyped game (cough cough *Need For Speed Underground* cough cough) GT3 would be shoved into a quick second, but it is explained why for a hard-core racing fan (which I am not) it shouldn't be.
I'm going to be frank, even by today's standards the graphics of GT3 are still stunning, and the opening cinematic drops jaws. In this highly graphical cinematic the power of the PS2 is truly shown. The opening moves from the exchange of gas to the engine, after which it is heated and the ignition begins to push down the pistons and setting off the chain reaction of gears that in turn eventually turns the crankshaft, drive shaft, etc. This beginning actually is real, and then it subtly moves to the graphics of the video game.
On the back of the game it mentions that it blurs the line between video-game and reality, and they couldn't be more right, either. In the replays, especially, the cars shimmer, the sun bounces and reflects in heat, and the picture becomes a bit wavy from the immense heat as if you were watching it. It keeps a very believable and steady frame rate throughout the entire game and on top of that, the colors are bright, vibrant, and varied. The tracks are detailed in a way that textures don't seem repetitive. On tracks raced in different directions, it changes in the time of day and the effects of headlights in the night are simply beautiful. The color changing paint on cars like the Tuscan Speed 6 only adds to this. The minuscule downsides: The sprites of the crowd are unmoving and 2-D, and the dirt appears a bit basic when kicked up, but overall, these small shortcomings in no way detract from its excellence. You're playing for the cars and tracks anyway, right? The numerous logos on tracks and cars are very accurate, and of course the GT logo every now and then. The effects of the setting sun are worthy of mention, particularly the way it glares in the camera,
In short: The visuals are unbelievable in variety, detail, texture, and accuracy.
Here it comes, a long analysis. There are two main modes: Arcade, and simulation. In arcade, you choose from a pre-selected selection of cars and gradually make your way through the available races on any of three difficulty levels. The races vary from pavement to dirt, etc.
The strength, however, comes in simulation. Here, you can race in beginner, amateur, professional, rally, and endurance races. In the beginner races, there are no requirements for the majority of the races, however, later on, there become licence requirements. To obtain a license (There are different ones, beginner, amateur, International beginner and amateur, super, and rally) you must complete a series of eight tests. You cannot obtain a higher license until you have obtained the previous one. The rally license can be obtained at any time.
Some races are open, and consist of three events. After winning all three (sometimes they may be two or four races) then you win a particular car. Other races are series(from five to ten races) and can be taken individually. However, to win the car you must win the series by obtaining the most points. After you race a car for a long time, it becomes necessary to change the oil, and during certain races where tire wear is a factor you will have to make pit stops.
There is a section to test the performance of your vehicle.
This leads to to my next point of praise: The customizable options. You begin with 18,000 Cr, which is only enough to buy a car decent enough to win you the first races (you get money for each win of a race, and depending on the difficulty you can get paid even if you do not achieve first) One can later buy HUNDREDS of different cars, from many major producers. It is unlikely that you will find a game with a selection terribly greater than this. The major brands include Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Tommy Kaira, Acura, Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, Pagani, Alfa Romeo, Renault, Citroen, Tickford, TVR, Lotus, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and many others. Overall, there are hundreds of cars to choose from. That isn't all, each car can be fitted with specific upgrades from the replacement of tires, to an increase in piston displacement, to a replacement of drive shafts with carbon, to the lightweight remodeling of the car, to gear replacements, to flywheel adjustments, to the general turbo boos for the raiding of horsepower. That isn't all, once you purchase these numerous upgrades and others, you can specifically change your car to tweak its performance to your liking. The customization is extremely deep and occupying to squeeze the maximum performance out of your car. Ride heights can be adjusted to lower the center of gravity, spring stiffness can be changed, down force can be edited, the list of amazing and mind boggling changes goes on and on, and makes the true life of this game an eternity.
You don't have to be a genius, either. Most upgrades are explained, and since the physics are realistic in this game, you can use your own knowledge. Usually, though, a simple turbo engine will give you enough from specific cars (Most can only go so fast, and even a max engine for a crappy car can't win you certain races) to win races, but the true fan can trick it out to squeeze out all of the performance possible, and this leaves many other games in the dust. (I have only scratched the tip of the iceberg with my customization options)
Finally, the incredible physics. The cars handle realistically (and I'm not kidding) . For example, putting slicker tires in the back makes an MR car slide more, or turning on a wet track can make a car with no TCS slide. Tire wear happens more in the proper areas of the torque distribution . . . the creators are extremely notorious.
The sound is realistic, again, and differs depending on your position, from third to first person. The angles are all taken into account, the roars and rolls are real-life accurate, and the sounds vary for each one of the hundreds of cars for their real-life counterparts. One can even listen to the wild roar of the gear of an Acura NSX max out, or the high performance engine of a Dodge Viper. Many of the sounds from the champion cars can be heard and recognized, and the cheering crowds only add to the effect. The soundtrack of the game is varied, and can be edited. If you hate all of the tracks you can just turn off the music and listen to your own. (But who could hate Jimi Hendrix?) Beware of the engine in endurance races, they can kill you if get tired of it easily.
The value of this game is extreme, the duration is long, and it occupies one for a very long time. The events are highly numerous, and the endurance races are long. Getting the super license is a task for only a true and notorious driver with something to prove (I've done it, so I'm not ripping on those who have). I didn't even like racing games when I played this, and to tell you the truth, I'm not crazy about them. But that doesn't mean that this game isn't one of the best around, and it will make any fan of simulation roll over. Gran Turismo 3 is a true racing simulator.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/08/04
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