Gran Turismo 3
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Polyphony Digital
Genre
Racing
ESRB Rating
Mild Lyrics
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome Graphics
• Comprehensive gameplay
• A lot of options

The Bad

• No car damage
• Not much new besides the graphics
• Inconsistent AI

 
Grade
B+

For those who don't know (consisting of the 1% of the console gaming world that hasn't been swallowed whole by the hype), Gran Turismo 3 is the first sequel to the racing series to appear on the Playstation 2. The previous two incarnations were hailed as excellent racing games, both with Simulation and Arcade modes to make most any racing fan pleased. In Gran Turismo 3, Polyphony has managed to retain the quality gameplay and depth and packaged it with an extreme amount of detail and visual quality. Even though the number of cars has dropped to 150, there are still 34 tracks to race on including Rally and Indy car racing.

Gameplay
Gran Turismo 3 is deep. Both the Arcade and Simulation Modes will take a long while to finish off. The arcade mode is spent racing tracks so that you can unlock more tracks and cars to play. The arcade mode is solid and takes very little in the way of technical knowledge to dive right into. A couple laps in easy mode and most drivers will be flying around the tracks, unlocking courses as they go. Where Gran Turismo 3 really shines is the deep (to the point of being life-altering) simulation mode in which players earn licenses to race in various circuits (beginner, amatuer, professional, rally, etc.), buy and sell cars and modify said cars to their driving tastes. While most of the cars in each class (C, B, A...) in the arcade mode seem to drive faily similar to each other, there seems to be a lot of time taken in making each car as close to the specs of the original vehicle. Front-wheel drive cars take longer to get to top speed, but turn better, while rear-wheel drive cars are often faster but have a harder time cornering. It's this kind of intense auto physics that must be taken into account when diving into a racing game like this.

Graphics
Visually, this game is polished. Make no mistake about it. Lighting and reflection effects are used to their fullest when showing the cars in motion. The tracks themselves are varied and have distinct personality. It will be hard to top the visual quality and completeness of this game without going into sadistic amounts of overkill detail (like animating the people in the stands). Menus are easy to use and are well-designed. The complete design of the interface is well-done. One of the more impressive things is the cavalcade of banners and markers sporting real-life sponsors, like Firestone and Goodyear, that litter the tracks, giving them and even stronger real-life feel to the driving experience.

Sound
Between the screeching of the tires on the pavement to the roar of the engine, sound effects are dead on. The music itself is solid, ranging from popular acts, like The Cult, 8 Stop 7, Motley Crue and Lenny Kravitz, to a techno soundtrack. While the addition of popular tracks is nice, they manage to get old after a while. Most of the techno music is much more enjoyable and doesn't seem to take away from the driving experience. Some of the tunes, like the track used to start off just about every race, can get tedious and old after a few hours of racing.

The Bad
While I can say that Gran Turismo 3 is a solid game visually and that it does a lot of things good, there are some small things that detract from it. The lack of real-life car damage detracts from what could be an extremely comprehensive simulation. Even though the option to "swap paint" was available in Gran Turismo 2, there doesn't even seem to be something like that in this version. The effects of slamming into other cars or barriers aren't taken into account, which almost makes some of the careful tutorial-like driving tests futile. Why take a test to learn how to take a sharp corner well when you can slide through it, slam into the barrier wall, lose a little speed and just keep going. Until more drastic effects are added, the driving tests just come across as a nuisance to get through to get to more races.

Also, the opponents AI is a little unbalanced. Unless you play on the hard level, most of the racers just line up and you have to pass them. They don't seem to fight much with you or the other racers. On the hard level, though, you have to fight for every inch you get. Another item of nuisance that I found was the presence of a basically useless pit lane on most of the tracks. Often, if you're racing a track for the first time, you might accidentally end up in the pit lane, which will kill any momentum you might have had going into the final stretch. Why was this included if it serves no purpose to re-fuel or even repair your car from damage you're not getting during the shorter races? I understand it's use in the longer races, but in the short races, it's just a potential problem waiting to happen.

What it comes down to is that there really doesn't seem to be anything new in this version. In fact, there are actually a few things less: fewer cars and no option for minimal car damage. This is the kind of game that a purchase or rental should be decided on certain factors. If you have both Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2 and don't care for newer graphics, then this won't give you anything new. If you don't have either of the previous Gran Tursimo games and like racing, then go get it. It's the best racer for the PS2 to date. People who aren't big on racers will definently want to pass up on it, also. Reviewer's Note: I found this game very hard to score. While it is easily one of the most comprehensive and visually solid racing games to date, I found the fact that it's basically a repackaged Gran Turismo 2 a little hard to swallow. If you can look past that, this is the game for you.

- - Vane

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