Review by DaveSev

"Fun for an hour or two, but after that it's really a chore to play."

The Gran Turismo series has always been claimed too be the ''ultimate driving simulator'', and that's not too far from the truth. Not many other racing games feature the in-depth mechanical customization that GT3 has to offer. You could spend hours upon hours fine-tuning your car to get it to perform at it's highest potential. The basic idea of the game is that of any other racing game. You start with a small amount of credits to buy a weak car, and gradually win money to get a better car or upgrade your current one. It's a great, tried-and-true concept. So what makes this game so bad that it deserves a measly six out of ten?

Frankly, it's boring. I actually considered it a task to play through the Professional league. The Beginner league was a lot of fun- races were 2 laps for the shortest ones, and 5 for the longest. They were exciting, too; races would never be too much of a blowout. However, in Professional league, races are as long as 20 laps- that can be a thiry minute race- and there are over 50 of them. You'll find yourself having to make time to even play the game, and even then you can do only one race. Games are supposed to be a thing you do in your spare time; after you get through the first hour of gameplay, this one isn't. And then there is the endurance races. I know this game is supposed to be a simulation, but not many people want to drive 100 laps around an oval. I, for one, find it incredibly boring. Oh sure, you're racing for a prize car- but what's the point when the prize cars are random? In the Miata Endurance, you could either win a Miata, a Miata, a Miata, or an F1 car. Talk about a total waste- gee, I sure hope I win the same car I bought to get into this race!

Okay, admittedly the game would be fun if the number of laps would be toned down. Or would it? The AI in this game is terrible. Polyphony Digital (the creators of this game) claimed to have improved on the AI for GT2. Was it good? No. They said the same thing for GT3. And it still stinks. You'd think the cars have a preset routine that is the exact same for every lap. They are totally careless. You'll be run into going through corners, blocked into pit, and worst of all, hit from behind when you brake for a turn. Just because they can't brake early enough doesn't mean that you should be penalized for their bad driving. And people actually want damage in this game? Improved AI, I think not.

But wait, it still gets worse. The sound in this game is atrocious. Around every single corner in every single car equipped with every single tire going at any speed, you'll hear the same screeching noises. Heck, you'll even hear that screeching when you have wheelspin off the line. It gets rather annoying, if you couldn't tell. Oh well, at least there are good engine sounds to make up for that....wrong. PD claimed to have recorded each car's sound from four different positions while testing for this game. I think my bowels could produce better quality sounds. Big American V8s sound like hairdryers. You'll never hear a chirp from your tires when you upshift, even in 1000 horsepower Skylines.

So what about the music? Well, the soundtrack has a few good songs on it. ''Turbo Lover'' (Judas Priest) is a very fitting song. There's Powerman 5000, Papa Roach, and Motley Crue. To counter-balance these good songs are titles from...well, you've never heard of them, so I won't bother mentioning them. Actually, you probably won't even hear them in the game; they're so quiet that you can hardly make out the ''smooth'' jazz music (that is, what sounds like a fat guy screaming with a trumpet). Yeah, that one gets pretty annoying. Especially considering that these songs loop for the entire race- that's right, you'll hear the same song over and over, even on two-hour long endurance races. I usually just turn the music off and play music off the computer. But turning the music off also turns off the catchy menu music, which has always been great in the GT series. Probably the best noise you'll hear while playing GT3.

But this game wouldn't be a ''Greatest Hits'' game for nothing, would it? No, of course not. You've probably heard it before, and you'll hear it right now- the graphics in GT3 are amazing. In some screenshots, it's actually hard to tell which is real life, and which is the game. The cars look perfect, just as they do in real life. Water effects look good, on the one track where there is water on the track. And the sun sometimes gets in your eyes and blinds you, which is realistic. Rallying was totally redone, and looks a lot better. I don't even think I can come up with a complaint in the graphical department. Well...In GT2, once you've fully tuned your street car, you could slap a racing modification on it. It would make your car look like a race car- decals, bodykit, and a cool paintjob. It would have been nice in GT3, but it's no major loss. Half of them were ugly anyways. And GT3 wouldn't be hailed as the ''Ultimate Driving Simulator'' if it weren't for it's great physics. Cars drive as they do in real life. You can really feel the weight of the car in the massive Mitsubishi 3000GT, or the nimbleness of the tiny Lotus Elise. If you drive a rear wheel drive car too hard in the corners, you'll wipe out. If you drive a front wheel drive car too hard, you'll understeer. Handling characteristics change accordingly when you're accelerating or decelerating, just as they should. To drive fast in GT3, you'll have to transfer your car's weight correctly, apex corners, and find the best lines through linked corners. It's certainly an easy game to learn, but a tough game to master (if you want to play it long enough to master it, that is).

The car selection in GT3 is decent. There are 180 cars, plus a few more that can only be accessed by Gameshark. Each one (except for near identical models) handles differently. There are cars from all over the world- England, Italy, America, Australia, France, and, of course, Japan. Certainly, however, the selection is a downstep from GT2- a massive downstep, in fact, as GT2 had 600 cars. Three times as many. It also had used cars that show up in the used lot on a set cycle. This really added to the depth of GT2, because you could often a car you've never driven before and turn it into a racing machine. GT3 lacks this depth. On the other hand, like the previous GT's, there is still a very in-depth tuning section where you can fine-tune your car. You can adjust ride height, springs, shocks, toe, camber, stabilizers, brake balance, transmission gearings, downforce, ASM, TCS, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. It really is great to spend awhile tuning a mediocre car to make it good, but there aren't enough mediocre cars like there was in GT2.

The controls are simple and smooth. The setup is near perfect, which is a good thing since this game rewards quick direction changes. You'll find that your car can be manipulated easily with the pressure sensitive buttons, which make driving a pleasure. Response is right on time. Gear changing is direct. Navigating menus is easy enough as well.

Replay value isn't so hot. I've started over many times, but I can never actually finish the game 100% because of the oh-so-long races. There are many different cars to buy at different times, and different driving tactics to focus more strongly on if you choose. It can be fun to tune a car to drift, but again, it's only fun for 10 minutes at a time, and after that it gets stale.

So what's my verdict? To me, the gameplay is the most important part of any racing game. Not the controls or the graphics. That's why I gave this game a 6. I would definitely suggest GT2 over this game; it will give you more replay value and won't put you to sleep. If you are considering this game, it's only 20 bucks, but I think it's best for a week's rental instead. You'll probably want to put it down after a day or three anyways.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/02/04

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