Review by lighty691

Reviewed: 05/18/09

Wonderful, Brilliant, Incredible. A joy to play

Gran Turismo 3 - Review
by Andrew Light

Gran Turismo 3 is the third instalment of the now famous Gran Turismo series. Previous incarnations, GT and GT2 were released for the PS1 with the new GT3 being the series' first outing on the PS2. There was a lot of expectation on Gran Turismo 3, with many fans really hoping that the game would push the limits of the new system...

Gran Turismo 3 is a wonderful game to play. It’s very hard to find faults with the gameplay here as it offers so much. The game is split into two main sections, Arcade mode and Simulation mode. Arcade mode offers several options such as single races, time trials and free run modes. However the area where most players will spend the majority of their time is Simulation mode. For players who are new to the series, Gran Turismo 3 follows the same style that made the first two so popular. You start off the game with a small amount of cash to buy your first car. You won’t be buying anything flash with the amount of cash you start with and will probably end up scouring the different manufacturers for their budget models. Once you have your first car you are ready to go racing. However there are very few competitions that you can enter without a license. This unique element of the game ensures that you prove your skill in passing different levels of driving test to gain a license. These can vary from the simple "B" license to the more complex and difficult "A" and "International A" licenses.

The game offers many competitions once you are set up with your car and license. These again range from the bottom end cups to international tournaments featuring the best cars from around the globe. The easier competitions such as the Beginners league offer competitions with low prizes but easy opponents. These then range up from middle class races up to the top level championships in the Professional leagues such as the Gran Turismo World championship or the Polyphony Digital Cup which offer huge prizes for winning. New to Gran Turismo 3 are the rally leagues. You can now take most of your cars (with the right modifications) to the dirt tracks to race one on one with an opponent. This provides players with a different challenge to the usual street races and again follows the same style as the other championships with cars and prize money on offer to the winners. Also in Simulation mode there is a section to test your car to determine its top speed and its acceleration. Overall the gameplay of the game is brilliant and really in my opinion has no flaws.

The graphics in this game are simply stunning. It was difficult to find a game on the same system that had better graphics than this, particularly in the cars. They are all beautifully constructed and look brilliant on the tracks. The tracks themselves also look great with the roads displaying real damage that stays till the end of the race, for example skid marks on the roads and safety cones spread about the track after a miss timed corner. A particular highlight is on the Trial Mountain track where you head out of a tunnel on to a long straight. The trees creep over the top but in a stunning effect the rays of sunlight penetrate the branches and shine down onto the track and the cars below. A wonderful effect. The cars themselves are excellent and perfectly modelled on their real life equivalents. With 95% of the cars if there wasn't a name underneath it you would still be able to tell what the make and model was, the cars are that good. Another wonderful addition since Gran Turismo 2 is the wet track, Special Stage Route 11. This is a wonderful addition and really shows off the capabilities of the game. You race around a purpose built track at night in the pouring rain, which is a massive challenge. The graphics on this track are simply stunning and are incredibly realistic. Spray shoots up from the wheels when driving and every single light reflects off the rain soaked track perfectly. Wonderfully created. The are some very slight flaws with the graphics in the game but they are pretty minimal. There are some pop ups on the tracks but these are few and far between and do not really spoil the game in any particular way. Also on some of the rally tracks, the camera angle can sometimes end up behind the barriers around the track which restricts your view but again these are minimal and do not cause massive problems. Overall Gran Turismo again scores very highly in this section.

The sound in the game is really the only area of the game that I feel could have done with some improvements. Although the sound is still very good it doesn't match up with the same level of detail as the rest of the game in my opinion. The music in the game is good with well known tracks from famous bands such as Ash and Feeder and are good songs that fit in well with the theme of the game. Most of the songs are fast paced and provide a great background for the race. However when you are racing often you will gradually become sick of the same songs playing over and over again. In future games I think a wider range of songs would be better to avoid the music becoming repetitive. However there is an option to turn off songs you don’t like and just play songs from a list of your favourites but in my opinion this just further limits the choice. Also the sound of the cars in the game is pretty limited too. There doesn’t seem to be much variance in the sound of the engines between cars. When you put two cars up against each other that should sound very different, there just simply isn’t any difference. This is a bit of a let down, especially with the game advertising itself as a "real driving simulator". In my opinion this should also extend the sounds of the cars, not just the appearance and control. Overall in this section the game still scores highly but there are definitely sections that could be improved to hit maximum scores.

The controls are another section of the game that scores very highly. The main reason for this is that there is a noticeable difference in the different types of cars. This means that you will need to adopt a different approach to the race based on the car that you are using. For example you could opt for the power of an MR car or go for the better handling skills of a 4x4. Some racing games do not have much in the way of handling differences between cars but Gran Turismo does not have any problems. Even details such as driving on the edge of the tracks can cause your car to handle differently, as it would in real life as the wheels lose grip. Also there is a significant difference in the handling of the car depending on the type of tyres you are using. This again reflects how the car would perform in real life with quality tyres on. This extends to the rally tracks also as the cars handle exactly as they would in real life rallies. Rally cars have special tyres for rallying which again ensure that the game scores highly in this area by providing realism for a different type of racing that has not been seen in the series before. Another excellent addition is the use of tyre wear in longer races. This again provides an extra dimension to the racing as cars with worn down tyres will steer poorly and make it very difficult to corner successfully.

Gran Turismo 3 is simply a game that you will be playing for a long time. There are plenty of courses and tournaments to choose from and each one will probably be replayed several times. With multiple cars available as prizes for series races, players will be coming back repeatedly to these championships to win the best cars on offer and with two massive game modes in the form of Arcade and Simulation players will have plenty to keep them going for many hours of racing. In order to get the golden 100% complete status it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort to achieve this, which is why Gran Turismo 3 scores highly again.

Overall this game is simply outstanding and has made massive improvements on the previous offering, Gran Turismo 2 which in itself is a massive achievement, given the success of the title. Gran Turismo 3 scores almost perfectly in every category and this is reflected in the overall score I have chosen for it.

Final Score - 10/10

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Gran Turismo 3 A-spec (EU, 07/20/01)

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