• Gran Turismo 3 Review - Sony PS2

    When Sony first unveiled PS2 to the public it was running an advanced version of GT2. It looked very promising and Sony claimed it would be ready for the PS2 Japanese launch. Come launch day it was not present and gamers were then told that it will be ready sometime around December 2000. Come Dec 2000 and there was still no sign of it, and with Sony sweating because up to that point games for the PS2 were not up to the standard many gamers expected. The delays did not look good.
    However in April 2001, and over 1 year after the launch of PS2 in Japan, Gt3 was released! Finally the wait was over and finally we can get our hands on one of the most anticipated PS2 games.

    Just like its predecessors GT3 allows you to participate in Arcade mode and Gran Turismo (simulation) mode. Entering Arcade mode will allow you to select a list of cars classed in 6 different categories - C, B, A, S, Rally and Garage, C being the lowest and S being the highest for the road cars. Rally cars can only be used on the dirt stages and not on the tarmac stages. The Garage option will allow you to use cars that you have stored in your garage from Gran Turismo mode.
    More stages are unlocked on easy as you progress through the sections (each section has 5 races and you move on to the next section only after you completed it) more cars can be unlocked by completing normal and hard. For those of you who want a challenge there is a hidden professional mode that is only available if you hold L1 and R1 on the difficulty select screen, in this mode one mistake and you will find it hard pressed to win! Although you don't win anything for your efforts, you do get the satisfaction that comes with completing this immense challenge.
    2 player races can be setup within seconds in arcade mode. Polyphony Digital have been kind enough to include an I-link mode so that up to 6 players can play, but it does mean having 6 televisions, 5 I link cables and 6 copies on the game and 6 PS2s. But how many of us can admit to being actually able to do that? Still, it's a nice addition and link-up play has always been gaming at its finest.

    Another special bonus is that you can play the single game with 3 televisions. You will need 3 PS2s, 2 I link cables and 3 copies of the game. What this does is spilt the picture to 3 television screens. Although this is an extremely nice and special bonus it does again prove very impractical. Oh well at least you know its there should you ever have spare TVs and PS2 and GT3 lying around.
    Those who know Gran Turismo will know that the real game lies in the Gran Turismo mode. In order to participate in races you must endure a series of license tests. There are 6 Licenses to obtain, B, A, IB, IA, S and R. B is your most basic and will unlock the simple and not so rewarding races where as S will unlock the extremely difficult, rare and very rewarding races. Rally races can be entered only when you have gained the R license.

    Once a license has been obtained you will have to use the credits you start off with (or if you managed to get all golds in a license test you can just skip this) to buy a car. And enter a race. As you progress through the races you will gradually be able to afford the more powerful cars, upgrade cars with performance boosting parts and enter races that will give you more credits upon winning them. With the right parts you can setup your cars ride height, Gear ratios, brake levels, camber settings and so forth. GT3 is a paradise for budding mechanics.
    There are 5 categories of races in GT3 they are Beginner, Amateur, Professional, Rally and Endurance. Each one consists of a big selection of races to compete in and gradually get harder and more demanding to play as you progress through them. The Endurance races consist of 2-3 hour races and demand a very powerful car and a lot of concentration to complete them. The prize money for these races is very high and winning one will give you a 1/4 chance of unlocking a F1 car to use.

    Rally mode is now fully incorporated and instead of being the quick 5 min job it was in GT2 it is now a lot more complex. In Rally stages you will have to make the car go around corners sideways and learn to control the turn and learn when to re apply throttle to ensure that you don't spin out. You really can feel every bump and will need to be alert to control the car. All in all the rally mode is a worthy mode that is different and playable.
    While the fundamental structure of GT3 remains the same as its predecessors, The PS2 version does offer more precise, sharper and more responsive controls, You can now feel the back end of the car begin to drift out, and can correct the situation earlier and more precisely. When played with the dual analogue set up (left stick to steer, right to accelerate and brake) the amount of control in the handling and movement of the car is very well documented and gives a very satisfying drive and feel to the game, thanks largely to the increased processing power of the PS2. The game launched with the GT force wheel that was made to work exclusively with GT3, I have yet to obtained the wheel yet but I once I do I will expand this review to include my thoughts about it.

    Tyre's play a BIG role in this version and can drastically affect the way you drive. Hard tyres provide less grip but are extremely hard wearing which reduces the need to pit on a regular basis in races that have tyre wear turn on, whereas super soft tyres provide the most grip but wear out within a few laps, meaning you have to pit on more frequently. Careful choice is required in deciding what tyre to use and what best suits your driving style. Selecting the wrong type of tyre can very much mean your race is over before you even started.

    Another new addition to GT3 is that you are required to change your car's oil on a regular basis. Failure to do so will result in your car to drop some ps, meaning your car is not at its max power output. During endurance races you cannot change your oil during pitstops and as a result will just have to live with a driving a slightly powered down car for the rest of the race. You really have to look after your car for it to perform at its peak.

    Graphically GT3 does not disappoint. The game runs at a solid 60fps, with no, I repeat no trace of any slowdown at all. Whether you are driving at 400+ kmh down a straight or spinning out on a tight corner, the frame rate remains at a constant 60fps This brings a smoothness and polish to the game, and is a truly a fantastic achievement and technical showcase of what the PS2 is capable of.

    Each car model consists of around 6,000 polygons and looks exactly like their real life counterparts. Everything from the body right down to the headlights has been accurately captured. The game replays truly are stunning to watch and at times you would swear that you are watching real car models racing around on your TV.

    Throw in real time lighting (the reflections of the lights reflecting from the bodywork), some very nice smoke effects and you got yourself something that is extremely satisfying on the eye.
    However, GT3's graphics are not without their faults. From what I can make out pop up is present in this game. I have noticed that on some of the more complex courses, backgrounds can suddenly pop up in front of you. On some of the more graphically challenge courses like SSRoute 11 (the night race course) the street lighting on the floor can just appear from nowhere if you should find yourself spinning out on a corner and being overtaken by computer cars, whilst headlights make no discernable difference to visibility of the road ahead.

    The original GT and GT2 did not really have a sense of speed. At first GT3 will appear slow, this is due to the fact that it runs at 60fps and the sheer smoothness of it makes it appear like this but as you move on to more powerful cars you will notice the increased sense of speed in which you propel your beast of a car around the tracks. The sound of the wind flying past does appear to add to the sensation of speed. Overall the sensation of speed is not quite realistic but it is a big improvement over the previous ones.

    The Rally mode includes dust effects that mimic the real thing, and it is such a wonderful effect to witness. I recommend you let the computer over take you on the first lap and marvel at the reduced visibility of the track due to the dust being propelled at you!!!

    2 players split screen mode is very smooth and has no sign of slowdown and the detail level remains high despite the increased information being processed. Although rev counters, turbo gauge and speedometer are not present on screen the 2 player mode is very impressive indeed.

    The jaggies that plagued the 1st generation of PS2 games are not so evident. But that's to not say that there aren't any; it has just been made less noticeable and is only evident on very close inspection.

    Another graphical limitation seems to lie with the PS2 amount of Vram, tyre marks are not present and while this is not a major thing it does somewhat limit the impact of the graphics. To me there is nothing more satisfying that leaving your tyre marks. Just a shame that it was not present, I guess we will just have to wait for GT4 then. Although the backgrounds in most case look superb, there are a few things that appear to be basic. The crowds are not animated, and look very 2d in comparison to the polygon buildings and trees. Some trees in the distant background appear to be 2d and not the lush 3d polygon type.

    New to this version is the introduction of a widescreen anamorphic mode for gamers with widescreen TVs which comes as a blessing for such owners For people who are unaware of what this does it basically allows more of the track and its surroundings to be seen on a widescreen TV without loss of resolution or picture quality.

    Sound has been very much improved over the previous Gran Turismo's. Each car has been completely re-recorded and re-sampled, Engine noises sound exactly as you would expect them to sound in real life. The use of the PS2's increased sample rate has been used to good effect, you can now hear cars whizzing past you from left to right clearly and hear the wind rush past as you accelerate and maintain speed on straights.

    But despite all those wonderful advances GT3 have some faults. Perhaps the most important game play fault is one that has not been reviewed since the original Gran Turismo is that the infamous wall ride is still present. This allows gamers to simply scrape along the wall of a corner or bounce off it and hardly lose much speed meaning they can corner faster than taking the corner perfectly by braking, turning and accelerating away. This also applies to hitting cars too, you bounce off them as you turn and can maintain your speed, giving you the advantage (please note that the AI can do the same to you to get the advantage on you) I have experimented with both ways to turn a corner and from my studies I found that in most cases you are looking at a 2 second advantage using the wall ride trick.

    AI cars still remain bunched up during 2-5 lap races and seem to follow a setline of movement. Although they become more spaced out in long races they still seem to follow a pre programmed waypoint.

    The lack of car damage available is a big disappointment, (seeing Xbox racer Project Gotham will have it) I was expecting GT3 to include it and look forward to writing a few cars off heh heh, but in some cases you can understand how much of an effect this will have on the game play. GT3 is about being able to push these fantasy cars and cars that most of us will never get to drive to the max, with car damage present it would be very difficult to get the most of your car because you are limited by the thought of, if I crash this, its all over lurking in the back of your mind. Just a shame that Polyphony Digital did not include car damage in the Gran Turismo mode for the serious gamer and left arcade mode with no damage for the less serious gamer. This would have created license issues and inevitable delay however, but perhaps this will be included in the next installment of the series.

    Wet driving stages just have wet roads and no rain. Why could not Polyphony Digital incorporate real time rain and other hazardous weather conditions? Driving in the wet does prove very tricky due to the car being 5 times as prone to spinning but it feels that this option was rushed and not fully being that Polyphony Digital set out to do from the start whilst to emphasize this point is that only two cars race at any one time on wet roads, as opposed to the usual six.

    Gt3 is an essential purchase and is worthy in any PS2 owner's collection. The Japanese text menus for car setups and game options can be easily navigated with a FAQ from www.gamefaqs.com. The race options are very simple and provide no problems for gamers who cannot read any Japanese.

    While GT3 shows what the PS2 is capable of and sets the new standard in graphical power for future games, it does have its faults, which affect the game play and the way you play it. I for one will hope that GT4 will iron these faults and bring in real time damage to car models to give us the most realistic driving game ever.

    Score: 8/10
    Review by Kent Yip
    Originally published in 2001
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      This is the main GT game I go back to. It just has the best graphics of the whole series for me. The review here is spot too. It was a great game, still is but needed work. The series has stagnated badly since.
    1. Wools's Avatar
      Wools -
      GT3 was the first ever game I went to the midnight launch for, convincing my Dad to take me over after work. That opening intro with Feeder blasting out, it was the future as far as I was concerned, the first game on the PS2 to convince me that it would not be possible on the Dreamcast.

      Great game but with the passage of time, the original GT was the most revolutionary and GT5 is the best in the series and in my eyes, the best realistic racer ever made. Warts and all.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      GT5 is tragic. I was given a free copy and I gave it back. What on earth have they been doing all this time?

      I agree that GT1 was the most revolutionary though.
    1. englishbob's Avatar
      englishbob -
      GT may be the best "driving" game ever, however its the WORST racing game ever. Only a substantial re-write of the whole game will change that. Alas, I reckon all of the original dev team buggered off years ago, leaving Polyphony to keep to maintaining that core code.

      Its never going to change all the time that whatshisname is head of the studio, he gets to go to loads of track days and drive the best cars in the world.

      GT5 was woefully behind the times, with no effort to bother to catchup with all of its "extended" support. Online leaderboards?
    1. Kit's Avatar
      Kit -
      My favourite GT by quite a stretch. Totally mesmerised the first time I ever saw this running round a friends. The best track was the one where you went through the woods and would get all that insane reflection mapping on the roof of the car.

      Stunning!

      It was the last proper Gran Turismo for me. GT 4 barely held my attention and GT 5 sounds like it completely ****s on the awesomeness of the first three.

      They need to use this game as a template for the next one. Hell, even a straight up remake would be fine by me.

      More cars on track though - that was my only problem with 3.
    1. speedlolita's Avatar
      speedlolita -
      I felt GT3 was a step back from GT2 myself. Of course, maybe it's because it was an early release but the game just felt like there wasn't as much content as the 2nd game. In terms of driving I hated the pressure sensitive controls and remapped my accelerator to the R2 button. Possibly better than 4 and 5, but can't touch 1 and 2 in my eyes.
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