Passion. Technology. Dynasty.
These three words grace the jacket of the GT3 A-Spec demo disc. Id say that the
marketing machine behind this great franchise has summed it up nicely. Gran Turismo: a
racing dynasty. Well, as the saying goes, you aint seen nothin yet.
weve all seen the screen shots. Theyre beautiful. But I have learned to take
those little single-frame gems with a grain of salt. You can make just about any game look
good if you hand pick the prettiest pictures it has to offer. The true test comes when
those pretty pictures move. Let me assure you, the screen shots simply do not do this game
justice. You have to see it in action. GT3 is the single most incredible display of
graphics and effects technology I have seen so far on the PS2. The cars are rendered with
astounding realism. Granted, this is the polished, ultra-colorful brand of realism
achieved by special effects. There is virtually no aliasing or pixelation on the cars. The
lines are straight, the textures convincing. Each car has been meticulously created to the
last minute detail. There are hood ornaments, antennas, and trunk latches on the
exteriors; you can even see the bulbs in the headlights.
cars are also completely reflection-mapped, from windshield to bumper. And this accounts
for multiple light sources, shade, road glare, everything. The most beautiful effects on
the demo track take place under a canopy of trees, where the light streaks down onto your
car while individual branches scroll across its glossy finish. This is inspired
programming. And the frame rate remains constant regardless of how many cars, light
sources, signposts, whatever, are on the screen. They never slip. In fact, the only fault
I can place on the cars themselves is the traditionally unconvincing motion capture of the
wheels. The days of bland, repetitive backgrounds and frustrating draw-in are over as
well. The level design (at least on the one track included here) is complex and fresh with
extremes of depth that never suffer from fog or haze. Oh, youll find some background
shimmer among the most intricate compositions as the camera rotates around a corner, and I
found one instance of mountain draw-in during the race, but these are minor. The shimmer
can be distracting. I found the draw-in only as I observed someone else racing, and even
then I had to look for it. It is too far in the distance to really notice during the race.
sound is an improvement over its predecessors and better depicts the separate sounds of
multiple car engines when you are in the pack. Some of the engines seem a little
high-pitched when they tach out, but I am no expert. The befitting butt rock soundtrack
seems to have remained intact as well. The theme song on this disc was Motley Crues
"Kick Start My Heart." Gotta love it.
wasnt much of a shock to find that the gameplay and presentation hasnt changed
much. After all, GT2 was a landmark racing sim. Of course, as the demo disc only contains
the one track (Trial Mountain) and 3 cars (a blue Honda Raybrig NSX, a red Ford Mustang
SVT Cobra R, and a Honda S2000 in your choice of red, white, gray, or black), I can only
comment on basic performance. After you choose a car the usual game options apply: Racing
or Drift Steering, Automatic or Manual Transmission, Vibration on or off. The
drivers seat and 3rd person points of view contain the same displays. In
fact, the only new addition to the control system is the analog buttons of the Dual Shock
2 controller. Now any button you choose is touch sensitive, which adds a certain
refinement to the interaction between car and driver.
Sony and Polyphony promise that the finished game will contain unmatched racing
physics, with realistic climate conditions, "emotion" driven opponents with
competitive impulses, and nearly unlimited customization. They brag about exact vehicle
engineering and "invigorating sensations of speed." Well, I will vouch for the
engineering and sensation of speed. I got that here. The rest remains to be seen. We will
have to experience how the minutia adds up in the long term. The GT franchise is, after
all, about the long term. GT3 is certain to be just as grand in depth and scope as its
predecessor, and the enhancements I have seen so far range from good to simply stunning. I
have no reservations about recommending that all of you tenacious, red-eyed, GT fanatics
stand in line for this one. For all the newcomers out there, check out our review when the
finished game is available. Get ready for a racing experience like none other, Gran
Turismo 3 is almost here.