As the name implies, GT5 Prologue is an introduction/preview to the full product set to ship most likely in 2009. It offers a few cars and tracks to play around with in the new engine, as well as some new exclusive features which are enabled by the next generation power of the PS3 system. Where GT5 Prologue differs to the GT4 Prologue game is the meat and potatoes. There is a heck of a lot more to do in GT5 Prologue than before, and you will spend hours upon hours in this game.
Unlike the previous Prologue title, there is now a cut-down career mode. You start off with a small amount of cash and work your way through C class races all the way to S class to unlock some of the world's finest pieces of motor machinery. How you do this is fairly reminiscent of previous Gran Turismo games. Win some races, unlock some money, buy some cars, get more expensive cars by selling old ones, and so on. The formula remains the same but it still is one of the best racing experiences available in the video game world.
As well as this, the cars you have unlocked in the career mode can be taken out in the arcade mode and driven throughout the various tracks included. This really is just a bit of filler to give you a break from the tough career mode, but it does offer a pick up and play area for those who may not be the biggest GT fans. One criticism we have of GT 5 Prologue is that when you first start the game you have to play with some really boring drab cars before you begin to unlock some of the better ones. As well as this, there are no cars unlocked initially, which means for the casual gamer, it's not going to be as fun experience at all. In this way the career mode is the games' biggest strength, but considering it is the Prologue version, also its biggest weakness.
There are over fifty cars available in the European build of the game including Ferraris, Daihatsus, Mitsubishis and a few concept cars as well. In fact one of the best cars in the game is Ferrari's 2007 formula car so if you have ever wanted to see how Polyphony Digital would handle an F1 game, now is the chance to do so. The cars are absolutely stunning to look at and it is easy to see that the designers of the game view this as a labour of love. Right down to the nth detail, the cars match their real life counterparts, except for the part where it matters to the gameplay - damage. Once again there is no damage in the game.
One area the game truly shines with is the in car views. This is no doubt the best representation of in-car view you will ever see. All the real dashboards are present, and you can even see what's in the back of the car with the rear view option. We could even go as far as saying the dashboard view is almost worth buying the game for alone, just to see how much detail is going into the final product and how realistic the next generation consoles allow developers to make their games.
There are a number of tracks included in the game ranging from the Nordic track we saw in Gran Turismo HD through to the busy streets of London. Each track offers a unique challenge and while the cars are graphically stunning, the tracks could use a bit of work before the final release in terms of environment objects. The variety of the tracks in Prologue also leaves a lot to be desired with most quite similar to drive on. There is also no hint of rally driving which was part of the GT4 package so that leaves us concerned it may not make an appearance in the final game.
However the biggest addition to the series for this title is multiplayer via PSN and the Gran Turismo TV channel. When logged into PSN you can play up to fifteen other racers online which is a nice and long awaited addition to the GT franchise. The other big introduction, Gran Turismo TV Channel, is where you can download motorsport content from around the globe to watch on your PS3. Future updates will include the Top Gear TV series, popular from the BBC.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is a really taste test and tease for the final game. There is enough here to keep you going for hours and hours but once you do unlock all the cars you want to, it very quickly becomes just another racing game. With that said though, the cars, the tracks and the cockpit view all combine with the career mode to make a very compelling package. It's hard to recommend what ultimately is a cash-in for those who just can't wait, but anyone who has a PS3 really must try this game, even if it's just to see just what the system can do.
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