Review: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue

Players: 2

Price: $39.99

Platform(s): PlayStation 3

Developer: Polyphony Digital

Publisher: SCEA

ESRB: Everyone

Website:Gran Turismo 5 Prologue


News flash to George Lucas, prologues release prior to originals. If you live in Lucas’ back asswards world, don’t expect Gran Turismo 5: Prologue to be anything more than a teaser to the game’s late 2009 release. You get to taste the game on both Blu-Ray disc and the PlayStation Network, depending on how you feel. Yes, it is downloadable on the PlayStation Network. It’s hard to imagine a game as highly anticipated as GT5 available on anything but Blu-Ray disc but as long as I don’t see it on iTunes next week, I’m good.

The question remains, did the guys at Sony slap the “Prologue” label rather than the “Beta” to justify charging $39.99 for a warm-up lap of Gran Turismo 5? The answer is no. There’s a ton of gameplay and features available that it’s impossible to claim this is simply a demo. Still, Prologue will remain a Happy Meal compared to the Double Quarter Pounder expected next year that will be GT5. But what Prologue does extremely well is provide the audience with enough stellar tracks, solid gameplay, and jaw-dropping visuals to wet their racing pallet for another year or two.

The midgetism™ of the length of the game is the only knock I can conjure for the Everest of racing simulation. Prologue is a hands-on experience that allows players to enjoy condensed features of the final version. The structure of the game is nothing new to GT enthusiasts. Prologue is based on competing in a series of races to unlock event classes (standard races, time trials, challenges) and to earn credits to purchase better cars. You’ll start with basic car options such as the Mini Cooper-S ’06, Ford Focus ST ’06, and Mazda RX-8 Type S’07 to name a few with over 70 more waiting to be bought such as newcomers Nissan GT-R, Ford GT, and luxury Ferraris.

One of the grander features you’ll witness on Prologue is the interior dashboard view, which puts you directly in the driver’s seat and out of the proclaimed “behind the wheel” views of the past. You can now see driver arms and hands gripping the 10 and 2 positions on the fully unique steering wheels of each individual car. So even though you’ll never be able to purchase your own Ferrari, and refuse to shell out $700 a day to rent one, in GT5: Prologue you can now literally picture yourself driving the Italian dream.

If you thought your Sony Bravia was being wasted on the graphical shortcomings of Killzone and Resistance, pick up Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and you’ll be drooling over what is hands-down one of, if not the most visually impressive game on the PlayStation 3. The environments are loaded with extreme detail and they more or less maximize the capabilities of a high-definition display. The cars speak for themselves. Every cross on every grill and every bulb on every brake light stand out like Harold and Kumar at Guantanamo Bay.

Putting Prologue up against Gran Turismo’s consistently high standard for its soundtracks and audio effects is tough but GT does not disappoint. Along with an assortment of rock and jazz music, the in-game sound effects are as realistic as the accompanying graphics. You’ll hear the familiar sounds of screeching tires, rumble on the road, and the revving of the engine.

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is an excellent racing simulation for any first time racer and terrific satisfaction for any GT enthusiast’s thirst. It doesn’t mess with the good foundation that Sony has implemented and adds more comprehensive options that will have you coming back for more. The only reason this game doesn’t receive top honors is because it’s merely an extended prelude to the actual release in 2009.