For a limited time from the 20th October 2007 until 11th November 2007 a PlayStation 3 demo of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is available for download on the Japanese PlayStation Store.
First up, this means that if you are a European or American PS3 owner you will need to set up a dummy Japanese PlayStation Network ID. If you haven’t already done so, you can search on Google for a translation of the various screens or you can use this excellent guide.
The demo gives you access to Suzuka and, initially, four cars. Enough of the demo is in English or the default button is the one used to progress so that you can navigate successfully without being able to read Kanji script.
To play you select a car and colour from the Showroom (second icon from the left) then select Race (first icon on the left). You can then set some options on your car for driving with automatic or manual gears, adjusting the traction control (that’s the one with the number, default is 5), turning Active Stability Management on or off and choosing your front and rear tyres. The default options will be fine so you select the default button which is the bottom right one.
Instantly, one thing strikes you about the demo. The genuine feeling of gripping the tarmac with your car. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and Gran Turismo 4 were both very slippy-slidey-skiddy in their feeling of grip. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo instantly feels much more like the car you drive every day and convincingly gives you a feeling of weight and grip that is instantly, remarkably, much more satisfying and fun to drive than the PlayStation 2 games. It also encourages you to start exploring the limits of the car whereas the PlayStation 2 games left the limits of the car in the domain of only the most brilliant players.
There is no question that Gran Turismo 5 will reclaim it’s position from Forza Motorsport 2 as “the drive of your life.”
It is clear that Polyphony Digital has not sat on its laurels with regard to the handling. Graphics? Well, this is something where the Gran Turismo series has traditionally shone but here we get the much-modeled Suzuka circuit and not one a Gran Turismo original circuit. Suzuka is modeled well and feels accurate but familiarity breeds contempt and no effort has been made to provide the atmosphere of a circuit. This is not a specific Gran Turismo problem as only Melbourne House’s excellent Grand Prix Challenge has successfully achieved this in recent times and only Geoff Crammond’s legendary Grand Prix series has ever bothered in times past.
An area where the PD boys have come up trumps is with the overall rendering quality which provides an outstanding overall visual package. The default car is a masked Nissan GT-R and the masking looks just like real masking. The metal looks like real metal. This rendering quality continues inside the car with the cars that have the interior available (the Nissan GT-R Blackmask is initially not one of them). The driver’s gloves look like they should and the interiors are simply breathtaking.
The in-car view is the best in-car driving view in any racing game ever.
PD have also generously supplied sixteen Artificial Intelligence opponents and, unlike, all previous Gran Turismo games, I am pleased to report that the AI has never driven into me or attempted to drive through me once. Wheel-to-wheel action is fine though because the demo is on the easy side the AI generally don’t put up any resistance. Even when racing side by side through the Suzuka esses, for example, the AI cars never bumped into me or felt unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged. It appears to be another area of significant improvement.
AI is significantly improved over all previous Gran Turismo games.
The game runs super-smooth even with all sixteen cars, according to the blurb: 16 cars at 60 frames per second and 1080p. That bests Forza Motorsport 2‘s 8 cars at 60 frames per second and 720p by some considerable margin. Like FM2, performance is different during the replay and GT5 Prologue drops its frame-rate target to 30 but, unlike FM2, there is no stuttering at all during replays.
Gran Turismo 5 is the reason I bought a PlayStation 3 and both this demo and the previous GTHD Concept are providing genuine reasons for glee. Let’s hope that GT5 Prologue sees an European (and American) release and that we don’t have to wait until next October for the full GT5 goodness.