Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec - PS2

Also known as: GT2000

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Viewed: 3D First-person / Third-person Genre:
Racing: Car
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Polyphony Soft. Co.: Sony
Publishers: Sony (GB/US/JP/GB)
Released: 1 Mar 2002 (GB)
20 Jul 2001 (GB)
Unknown (US/JP)
Ratings: 3+
Features: Analogue Control Compatible: analogue sticks only, Vibration Function Compatible
Connectivity: I-Link Cable
Accessories: Dual Shock Joypad, Steering Wheel, Memory Card

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Summary

Gran Turismo 3 proves the PlayStation 2 can deliver amazing looking games, heavily laden with gameplay. GT3 is easily one of the best driving games ever. If you don't have a PS2 yet, it's time to make an appointment with the bank manager.

Gran Turismo 3 is very similar to its predecessor, and that's a good thing or a bad thing, dependent on how you feel about the other games in the series; luckily for Sony, the vast majority of driving gamers loved GT and GT2. It's good to re-acquaint yourself with some of the tracks and experience that feeling of familiarity as you do exploration laps in your new cars. It's kind of like being a Grand Prix driver in his second season. GT3 only features four new tracks and some of the family favourites such as the High Speed Ring are missing. But new tracks like the return of Special Stage route 11, Tokyo r246 and Monaco more than make up for any losses.

The menu system has been tidied up,and the whole process of navigating the game, choosing races, tuning your car is much easier and more intuitive. The total number of cars has dropped considerably, but the complexity of the car models has increased, as well as the physics. The secret cars are so amazing to drive. You can even imagine Senna being happy to drive some of these hidden beasts.

GT3 runs at a smooth 60 frames a second with high-res graphics and practically no pop-up. Just wait until you see Special Stage Route 5 in the wet, or the sun effects, or glowing brake disks. You know how your optician feels about too much eye-candy. The increased frame rate means that the game responds twice as well as the others and you have more feel of your cars handling characteristics.

Almost every car is a dream to drive. New to the series is customisable traction control and anti-skid control. This means that previously tricky cars like the TVR Speed 12 can be driven without wheelspinning in every gear and the backend becoming the front-end in every corner. As you become better at driving these assists can be lowered or turned off and that makes the game more realistic. One of the best features of Gran Turismo is the tweaking of your car and the effect that it has. It's time to study under and over-steer, camber, downforce, and then experiment to find the optimum gear ratio for any one given track. Another new feature is the 'gear suggest' function, in which the 'ideal' gear is displayed before the corner. This makes it easier to use manual gears and if you use automatic you can hold down the gear button to stop the computer downshifting and losing revs when you don't want it to.

The PlayStation 2's analogue buttons, with their 128 levels of sensitivity, add to the GT experience. You can now accelerate and decelerate with the smoothness that only a steering wheel offered previously. And if you go down the wheel route, the dedicated GT Force steering wheel is the first console steering wheel to give true force-feedback. You have to fight against the wheel as you lose grip on the high-speed corners.

The artificial intelligence of the computer cars leaves a little to be desired, and the lack of damage is slightly worrying. It's only the Formula GT league that offers good computer competition. But these factors do not detract from the quality of the game and the standards it sets.

If you play this game in two-player mode (and you really should) it's likely that you will put thousands of kilometres on the clock. The split-screen mode is smooth and even has a special widescreen mode. If you have money to burn, or a lot of like-minded friends, you can link up six PlayStation 2s via iLink and have true six-player races.