Prologue Puts You in Top Gear

Photo-realism makes Gran Turismo 5: Prologue exciting.
Photo-realism makes Gran Turismo 5: Prologue exciting. (Sony Computer Entertainment)
Friday, April 18, 2008

With more than 47 million copies sold worldwide, the racing simulation series Gran Turismo is easily Sony's premiere franchise. It has been slow to make the leap to next-generation consoles, but Gran Turismo 5: Prologue remedies that.

Last year, a free PlayStation 3 download of the Gran Turismo HD Concept demo featured one track and 10 cars. Gran Turismo 5: Prologue packs a lot more punch: six tracks, more than 70 cars, three racing modes, two-player split-screen racing and online play for up to 16. It's still not the full game, which is scheduled to ship next year, but think of Prologue as a tasty racing appetizer with a $40 price tag.

This game offers a deep experience, even without a career mode. It will easily engross driving aficionados more than such recent full-price games as Uncharted: Drake's Fortune have.

Every vehicle handles like the real thing. There are plenty of fast cars from such manufacturers as Acura, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Lotus, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Suzuki. To unlock many of them, players must perfect their skills in event races. That's where the challenge lies. But fans of the series know what they're getting into. The game has the most gorgeous photo-realistic vehicles ever seen; even the cars' interiors have been accurately modeled in 3-D.

The tracks are also amazing, including the new Daytona International Speedway road course and the streets of London (miraculously void of congestion). The game's ability to bring high-definition visuals to gamers with a full field of 16 drivers (racing online or offline) blows away the competition.

Gran Turismo games have always generated a lack of physical damage to cars when they crash; that will be addressed in a future download. That's one of the great things about Prologue: In addition to online racing, PlayStation Network will update the game with new cars, tracks and features, adding even more depth. Enthusiasts can even download racing footage and car-related programming from around the globe.

This title will easily satiate PS3 fans who have been craving a racing simulation game.

Note: The game is best played with a steering wheel like Logitech's Driving Force GT ($150), which not only adds to the realism but also makes driving much easier.

-- John Gaudiosi

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue Everyone; PlayStation 3 ($40) Sony Computer Entertainment/Polyphony Digital Gran Turismo 5: Prologue Everyone; PlayStation 3 ($40) Sony Computer Entertainment/Polyphony Digital

© 2008 The Washington Post Company