Review by Mr. Blonde
You gotta hand it to the old girl. Bill used to think she was so damn smart. I tried to tell him..."Bill, she's just smart for a blonde."
It's been more than three years since the release of Gran Turismo 3: A-spec. A lot has happened in those three years. Halo 2 revolutionized the playground now known as Xbox Live. Grand Theft Auto received it's official second homecoming with the release of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Many different racing games have come out for different systems, most noticeably Project Gotham Racing 2 for the Xbox, Sega GT 2002 for the Xbox, and Auto Modellista for the Playstation 2. Three years is plenty of time for a video game's technological skills to be considered outdated.
However, this isn't the case for GT3. After three-plus years, it is still the greatest racing game for all major systems. And most copies, used or new, can still be found for less than ten dollars.
All is right in the world again.
Some may call Gran Turismo 3 overrated, some may criticize the overly long races, some may criticize the lack of car damage, so may just call the game outdated and terrible. Whatever the case may be, Sony and Polyphony Digital have taken a popular genre of video gaming and transformed it into one of the biggest phenomenons on both sides of the globe.
Each subsequent game in the three (and soon to be four) part series has shown the ever-evolving attempts as recreating the car physics as close as humanly possible. Working closely with Skip Barber's Racing School, Polyphony Digital has taken the challenging task of emulating a 500 horsepower vehicle on over 35 tracks to the nearest degree possible. Consider this as well: With the upcoming release of Gran Turismo 4 in the next few weeks, each car can be broken down even more so than in GT3. Truly scary.
Each of the major modes of gameplay allow the player to explore their inner gearhead to the fullest extent possible. The main mode simulates a "career" mode of sorts, where the game gives you a mere 18,000 Credits (universal around the globe to avoid translation problems), and then throws you into the world of the game. From here, you have a number of options.
1.) You can take the 18,000 Credits that the game gives you and buy your first car (smart because the game doesn't let you win anymore money without a car first). You have a decent number of choices to start with, but by winning more races, more cars become available for purchase. As soon as you have your first car, you can immediately jump into racing.
2.) License testing is available from the get-go. These challenging tests allow the player to work on their skills in a bevy of challenges, with different types of cars available. Even though they are not mandatory at the beginning, licenses are used to obtain access into the more difficult and higher-paying circuits, so they become a must to master. The license ranges from the easy B, then to A, IB, IA, and the ever-so-difficult S ranking. If you start the game by heading straight for the license testing, and gain all "Golds" at the B level (quite a feat in itself), the game grants you a '93 Mazda Miata, saving you the 18,000 the game gives you to use at your leisure.
By racing through the career mode, you can save your winnings to purchase new vehicles and progress through the leagues until you decide to quit or keep playing at your leisure. With over 85 circuits, and machine tests, oil changes, and car purchases all thrown at your disposal, the game challenges the likes of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a game that may never be truly finished.
The arcade mode is much simpler, as it allows anyone who does not wish to simply delve into the magic of the Simulation Mode to have nearly the same amount of fun. Races are devised into teirs, as are levels of cars. When picking a tier of vehicle, you will race against vehicles from the same teir in stock form. Even cooler is the ability to import vehicles from Simulation Mode into the Arcade Mode, adding to the unique experiences.
At the time of the release, Gran Turismo 3 was, without a doubt, the prettiest video game in existence, surpassing every other major release. Only two upcoming games - Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X - had any chance of upsetting Gran Turismo 3's claim. Now... not so much. It is still pretty, but it is no longer the gem it once was. To that, this author says "Big Deal." The game is still as volatile and as versatile as it was three years ago. Not simply because of the racing physics involved, but because of its meticulous attention to detail. Gran Turismo 3 is still the gem it was three years ago, and the upcoming Gran Turismo has the opportunity to become the greatest racing game of all time, as well as simply one of the greatest video games ever. Big words, for sure, but none are more fitting.
Thanks for reading.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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