Review by KasketDarkfyre

Reviewed: 01/27/02 | Updated: 01/27/02

The only way to top this? Is to make a Fast and The Furious street racing game...

Continuing on with the tradition that was first started in the days of Gran Turismo on the Play Station, you’ll find that everything has come together for one hell of a car racing title. Featuring some impressive cars that range all across the world and with some involved races that earn you money for your mean machines, there are options upon options available! For a long time, it’s been hard to find an interesting car racing game that not only allows you to change the physical appearance of your vehicle, but also the overall machinery performance through selection of parts and mechanical tweaking.

There isn’t a story line of course, and most of what you’ll be doing is earning different licenses to race all of the different races that the game has to offer. Through the testing mode that you run into, you’ll go through all of the different aspects of driving these mean machines and it may take a little time to get used to the precision driving that you need! Although the game seems as though it is relatively short, the licensing tests and all of the different races alone will take you weeks, if not months to complete, all in your quest to defeat the game not only in the Simulation but the Arcade Mode as well.

The amount of cars that you’ll find here number into the hundreds with the different variations and options that you can attach to them. Through a rather interesting option, you can buy parts that will increase your speed and horsepower as well as your performance in the races overall! Now, to combat this, you have the ability to turn on and off such things as tire wear to give you a real to life experience and you will need to change the oil in your vehicles in order to keep them on the road in running order. Through experimentation, you can throw out a car that has some serious speed and gear ratios, so be prepared for some serious virtual wrench time to get the desired effect.

Speaking of the modes, you have two different ones that run completely different ways. With the Arcade Mode, you’ll run through the game in a fashion that allows you to race different tracks in several different difficulties that will truly test your ability to keep the car on the road and in first place. The further along you get, the better your prizes will be and the more tracks you’ll unlock in order to practice. Essentially, the game revolves around different conditions and different cars that will match or out-power your current vehicle, so be ready for some serious computer competition.

The Simulation Mode is the real meat and potatoes of the game in which you buy cars, modify them and then race them in several different theme races that all have certain requirements. Now, the trick here is not to get through the game and the races all at once, but by earning different licenses that will allow you to unlock other races with different class cars. Although this may seem like an easy to perform feat, you’ll need to have some precision driving and patience to really get through. The licenses alone could take weeks to get, with some of the testing being nearly impossible unless you’ve gotten some time in with the controls and you know how to use the different cars in different situations!

Control is split up here into a couple of different areas, one of which revolves around the analog Dual Shock 2 which is pretty accurate if you’re using the directional pad. Because the game uses the analog sticks in a rather sensitive manner, you’ll find that there is little that you can do to correct yourself or even make the tight turns. As with most driving games, you need to find your niche in the control setup and get yourself through the game without too many interruptions. This may be easy or hard depending on your skill with driving games in which veterans will have little problems, but beginners will have to practice plenty before getting too far into the game!

The second option that you have is with the steering wheel, which honestly is the best of the two options that you play through with. Because you have tighter control behind a wheel rather than with a simple button press, you’ll find that the different turns you take are nothing more than a slight press on the gas pedal and one on the brake to get yourself around the curve! This makes playing the licenses portion of the game much easier to deal with, having little or nothing to spare in the process. If you can get used to the steering wheel, its as close to real life as you can actually get without going out and driving through the streets.

Visually, the game has everything that you’re looking for and one simple thing that you’re not. The cars themselves are exceptionally well done, with the detailing on the cars coming forward with different effects on the windows and the like, all of which immerse you in the feeling of racing. You’ll find that the different portions of the day that you drive through are something that is done in a fashion that you really can’t shake especially when you’re racing at sunset! However, the one thing that you’re not looking for is a complete redraw of the same tracks that you’ve seen in the previous two games. This small problem is nothing when you get down to the way that the races run and how they look, especially through the replay cameras that seem to place you in the spectator seat.

Audio wise, you really can’t ask for much better in terms of what you listen to as racing music, but there are a couple of things that just don’t seem to mix in my mind. Snoop Dogg does a Gran Turismo that just doesn’t seem to mesh well with the overall feeling of the game in my eyes, but this and every other music selection can be muted out of the audio line up! The sound effects are pretty limited, but there is nothing here that detracts from the experience, with the roar of the engine and the squeal of the tires being your mainstay throughout the entire game. Otherwise, you’ve got some pretty good mixture of racing sounds and music to accompany throughout the title.

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec is one of those games that you really can’t go without if you’re into cars and racing through games at top speed. If they would make a Fast and the Furious game that revolved around the driving and customization, it could possibly contend with this title if not beat it! The control setup with the steering wheel is one of the best extras that you can have and the visuals that come along with it are simply a bonus. The soundtrack fits for the most part, and the races are long enough and involved enough to make this more than just a simple weekend rental. Be prepared for some serious speed and car control and get ready at the green line.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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