Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
PlayStation 3 from 15
Switch off all of the driver aids and this can be a tricky game, and some challenges seem impossible to achieve the first, or even the 99th, time you have a go. Leave a few aids on and it's possible to whip through this taster for the full-blown GT5 (that's scheduled to arrive some time in 2010) fairly quickly. One of the hardest bits is adapting your driving to more powerful cars, as you get them.
Prologue is nowhere near as big as the full-blown GT5 is going to be (or as previous proper instalments of the game have been). There are more than 70 cars, but there were several hundred in GT4. The number of tracks is also limited, even if it does include a thrilling race around London. Prologue really only manages to whet the appetite for the real thing. Roll on GT5.
Stunning levels of detail, even if an aliasing effect where gentle curves become a series of straight lines instead is still sometimes noticeable. The cars in the game are modelled beautifully, while track environments and lighting are also superb. The cabin views are also obsessively accurate and detailed. The first time we drove around in a Focus ST we crashed because we were admiring the air vent surrounds and the nap of the cloth on the back of our Sparco driver's gloves.
Dynamically, everything is excellent, with the cars responding faithfully to all of the inputs you make, whether it's accelerating, braking or steering. A lack of crash damage robs some of that realism, though. There's always the temptation to smash into the back of other competitors, which takes the skill, and grace, out of overtaking. The full version promises crash damage as well as night races and, perhaps, changing weather conditions.
Off- and online
Computer opponents are skilled and adept at following the racing line, but they don't feel all that aggressive or competitive. They hardly jostle for position and nudge into you only if you happen to get in their way. Online, then, there's the added bite of real drivers, but it's pretty faceless, compared with the charm of playing against other Miis on Wii's Mario Kart for instance.