Review by Prion

Reviewed: 07/12/01 | Updated: 07/12/01

This game changed my entire outlook on racing games

Let me first say that I'm not a racing game fan. In fact, during the 15 or so years that I have been playing video games, I have never bought a racing game. I usually only play them at a friend's house, and even then I don't find them that great.

I bought Gran Turismo 3 because I knew that even though I'm not a fan of this genre, that it was a great game and it deserved to be tried at least once by everyone. Let me tell you how glad I am about my decision to buy the game.

This review is best suited for people who either aren't big racing game fans, or who haven't played GT1 and/or GT2 to the point of exhaustion. Those who have clocked many hours with GT2 might disagree with some of my scores (most notably the gameplay).

Gameplay (9.5/10): What can I say: 140 real-world cars, over 30 tracks (some based on real cities), five different racing leagues (each with 20 to 25 racing events), tons of ways to customize your cars, the ability to have up to 200 cars in your garage, and plenty of game options can all be described in one word: phenomenal. The cars behave exactly like they would in real life (minus the damage, which I'm told wasn't permitted by the car manufacturers). What's keeping me from giving this score a perfect 10, is the AI. The whole concept of the AI's ''emotion driving'' marketed by Sony seems to be non-existent. The computer controlled cars behave like they simply want to drive from point A to point B, sometimes almost blindly. It will happen that they will not try to avoid your car when they are speeding up from behind, and ram you in the back, when they could have easily passed you from the side. This point aside, playing against the computer is still a challenge.

Graphics: (9.5/10): Although I found the graphics to be quite good, I wasn't greatly impressed by them until I raced on the Special Stage Route 5 (which is probably the 3rd or 4th race track that you will encounter in the simulation mode). It is a nighttime track (there is also a rainy version of it, which is quite a sight to see). The lighting effects of the headlights and taillights of the cars driving around at night are so nicely done. There are some times, depending on the camera angles and the lighting, that the graphics are so good that they almost look like reality. Each car is finely detailed to look exactly like their real-life counterparts, and nothing is more amazing that seeing the light from streetlights or the sun glare off your car. The framerate stays at a solid 60 FPS throughout the game.

Audio (8/10): The rumble of the engines have been tuned to mimic the actual sounds that the cars would produce in real life. You can also hear the wind brush against your car as you speed up. As for the music, there is a wide variety of soundtracks (Snoop Doggy Dogg, Papa Roach, Lenny Kravitz, The Cult, Methods of Mayhem, Raekwon, Jimmy Hendrix, etc.) and you can customize your playlist (and eliminate those that you don't like: Judas Priest - Uggg). One gripe though: there is no option to control the volume level for the sound effects and music. This is what disappointed me the most about the game. Sure, you can complain about ''unsophisticated'' AI, but that is something which is hard to program. But volume control? Come on! Games have been coming out with volume control since the early 1990s, and it really upset me to see that this fundamental feature wasn't included. If it weren't for this, I would give the audio a 10/10.

Replay Value (10/10): I have been told that you can expect to log over 100 hours in this game, and I believe it. There are simply so many different races and cars and possibilities through customization, that it will take you a long time before you can admit that there is nothing left in the game to explore.

Load Time (9/10): The loading times are very good (although I must say that the loading screen is a little odd for a PS2 game. Nothing bad. It simply makes you reminisce of the loading screens for MS-DOS games)

Control (9.5/10): The controls are very intuitive, easy to learn, and customizable, and nothing gives you a rush like feeling your controller shake in your hands as you floor it at the starting lane, with the sound of your wheels spinning like crazy. The cars behave exactly like they should (Sony says that they were careful in making the cars mimic the physics of their real-life models). Some people have complained about the availability of only 2 different views (i.e. a first person mode, and a 3rd person mode from behind in which your car takes up 1/5 of the width of your screen), but those are the only two views that you really need. True, it would have been nice for them to include an ''overhead'' view, but from what I have heard, most people don't really bother using it anyways.

Other Features (9/10): If your friend has this game as well, he/she can save their progress onto a memory card, come over to your house, and trade cars with you. You can also access their garage to see their cars, as well as race your cars against each other. Other cool features are the instant replays, in which you can see the blurring effect of the heat from the sun bouncing off the pavement, a replay analyzer (to monitor your mistakes) as well as an MTV style Replay Gallery. You can also use the I.Link to play against your friends.

Buy or Rent: Unless you hate racing games (and I do mean hate), you should buy it. Like I said, even though I don't really like racing games, I can tell you that I love this one.

Overall (9/10): This game is great. Although it is not perfect (no game ever is) I can assure you that IT IS WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY of its cost. It is and will be used as a benchmark for every other racing game to come out for the PS2. Everybody should have this game in their collection. Essentially, when people think about RPGs, they think of Final Fantasy. When they think about action, they think of Metal Gear Solid. When they think about FPS, they think of Half Life….and when they think about racing, they think of Gran Turismo.

There is no need to hesitate. Go out and buy it.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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