15 Feb, 2003

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec Review

PS2 Review | The third member of the Gran Turismo family. Does it live up to its forefathers, or does it skid off into the sandtrap? Full review inside...
Launched in the second half of 2001, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec was the PS2’s great hope. At the time, the line up could be considered to be average at best. Coming as the third game in the series heralded as being the greatest racing games ever, could GT3 deliver on what PS2 owners everywhere were preying for? Jump into the seat, buckle up and hang on as we dive into the world of Gran Turismo to find out…

GT3 has three central game modes available. Arcade mode, where you jump in a car and one a predetermined track; 2 player mode, where you, amazingly, compete with another person; and career mode, where the bulk of GT3 lies. The basic aim of career mode is to gain a license, then race in order to gain cash. The higher the license, the harder the races get, the faster the cars are, and the bigger the rewards become. The sheer number of races to win in GT3 is absolutely astounding. There are five leagues of races in career mode; Beginner, Amateur, Professional, Rally and Endurance, with which leagues getting progressively faster cars to face, and more laps in which to face them. The rally is an excellent addition to break up the road racing, as sliding cars around the dirt with little regard for the break pedal is top fun. It’s definitely something you won’t finish in a weekend.

GT3 features one of the most extensive car modification systems ever seen in a video game. Virtually every car can have a stack of modifications done to it. Whether it be the addition of a bigger turbo, intercooler, customizable suspension, better brakes, or even lessening the cars weight, there’s a hell of a lot of stuff to tinker with here. However, I would have thought there could have been so much more. For example, you can only add a turbo stage to certain levels on certain cars. Why? Why can’t a Nismo Skyline have a stage 4 turbo while a standard one can? Hell, it should be the other way around. This is rather disappointing. It seems to me that this is where a damage model, both on the exterior of the car and under the bonnet, would come in handy. Why can’t you try to put a massive turbo on a Mini Cooper, before having the engine blow after a few races? The sheer number of possible combinations could be enormous and have people searching for new ways to improve there cars for months. The game seems to be trying to have just basic enough stuff for people unfamiliar with cars, and have the system just complex enough so that even car fanatics can get into it too. And, while, for the most part it succeeds, I feel that there could have been so much depth here.

Graphically, GT3 has some of the best graphics ever to have graced a console. The cars are immaculately modeled and detailed; you will often ask yourself whether you’re looking at video footage. The tracks themselves are quick nice too, with every detail you can imagine in place. Even the tarmac looks absolutely flawless. The weather effects are well done and completely believable. Driving around during a twilight race with the sun setting is absolutely spectacular. The only minor fault that can be found with the graphics is the lack of real time lighting provided by the headlights during night driving, but its hardly anything to worry about.

While the ear drums aren’t as well accounted for as the eyes, GT3 still packs a punch in the aural department. The engine growls, while pretty good, just don’t have that ballsy sound that you would expect an eight cylinder engine to have at nine thousand RPM. The cars also seem to sound extremely similar at times, which is most unfortunate. The soundtrack is provided by a host of alternative bands, of which none of the songs will make you want to destroy yourself. In fact, you just might find yourself humming along to them during your day to day business.

Onto the nitty gritty – how does GT3 play? Thankfully, it’s at a peak standard for the racing genre. The cars feel extremely good, and with a little practice, you should be able to throw your vehicle around the track with a degree of success. However, being competent and being good are entirely different matters. Unlike the majority of racing games, attempting to slide around corners is a strict no-no. Not only does it cost you time, it also increases wear on the tyres during some races, which you don’t want. The car physics of GT3 are quite good, with the cars responding as you would expect in most cases. However, every car seems to have the same model, with slight alterations based on the power, engine location or the drive type. It’s disappointing, but probably very unreasonable to expect all of the cars in the game to have its individual physics model.

Whilst for the most part GT3 is a fantastic piece of software, the game does carry a few fatal flaws. The biggest one that will turn people off like crazy is the complete lack of speed in the majority of the cars you can buy until you can start accumulating cash. The speedometer may indicate you’re doing 150kmp/h – but it feels a lot closer to 60kmp/h. In fact, in any car with less than 400 horsepower, you might as well walk. The problem is amplified twofold when you go from one of the faster cars back into a slower car.

Another huge problem is that during my adventures with GT3, I noticed that I had encountered the vast majority of the tracks before in GT2. A sequel with only a couple of new tracks? Not good. Also disheartening is the fact that the number of cars is DOWN from GT2, although, there is still a stack more than you’d expect to find in other racing games.

Also crippling GT3 is the absolutely moronic computer artificial intelligence. Or, artificial stupidity. The computer cars are seemingly oblivious to your existence, driving along in a row, not being afraid to shunt you aside if you happen to be in their path. This often makes races completely boring, as your only opposition is the clock. Expect to win by laps in endurance races.

Why does GT3 only have two possible views, down from the three in GT2? I find this appalling, especially when you consider that when you’re in chase view in a fair few number of cars you cannot see properly over your own car. This is a huge oversight on the part of Polyphony.

As previously mentioned, a damage model would have been fantastic here. Crashing into a wall at 300kmp/h makes you remember that you’re sitting on a couch playing a game. You can even use it to your advantage, to use other cars as ‘cornering assistants’.

Something else that could have people reaching for the eject button is the sheer number of races and license tests required to complete the game. Loading up the Race menu to be greeted with seemingly hundreds of races, including massively long endurance races, is extremely daunting at times. But, if you connect with the game, you’ll manage to sit through them all.

However, GT3 still manages to pull through as a very good game. The jaw dropping visuals, the fun of sliding around your own R34 GTS Skyline, and the non stop barrage of races and licenses makes for a damn fine game. If you’re a fan of racing games, then you would be a complete fool to not look into GT3. And if you aren’t a fan, this could change your mind.
The Score
GT3 simply does too many things right to be consumed by its faults. If you own a PS2, and even sort of like racing games, then you need to check this game out. Especially when you consider it’s now half price on platinum. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 decade ago
This game is STILL absolutely AWESOME! No racing game has bettered it. I only play Arcade mode for lack of time, but if you want speed straight away its the place to go.
1 decade ago
I agree with Funk, a lot of games have tried to better GT3 since it came out way back in August 2001, but nothing seems to come close.

Bring on GT4. icon_biggrin.gif
1 decade ago
i reckon its awesome, but i think its weakness is its Traks....need more of them......i hate it how they just reverse all of them
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