Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec Review
Possibly once every year you are presented a game that simply sets a standard for the genre. You are offered a piece of history that will not be forgotten, and perhaps may be the indefinite leader in the future of gaming. In no way, at this time, will any racing simulation ever even compete with what has been formally titled Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec. The title has easily topped the list of what the Playstation 2 can offer, and will live in infamy as the racing game that begat all others on the PS2. I have honestly never been so submerged in a game that breaks all limits for what was once thought to be inconceivable. All time is lost when you experience GT3, and 24 hours may accidentally be lost as you suddenly notice the rising sun to your disbelief. Only when you have felt the sheer presence of what GT3 can bring to your home will you ever truly understand the audacity that this title has furnished. We may need to go back and remember the first two Gran Turismo series, and remind ourselves of what has inspired one of the greatest titles of the year.
Back in March of 1998, Gran Turismo saw it's first release and defined what the PSX could present, and began a franchise that is hailed as the best racing series of all time. Gran Turismo 2 was the next addition in the set, and proved to add certain elements that characterized what racing titles needed to replicate. By far the best racer of its time, GT2 was even put in the imperial list of all-time best games, an accomplishment that is rarely seen with racing simulators, as the gameplay at times can become repetitive. However, the Gran Turismo franchise has somehow been able to break out of the mold as just an ordinary racer. They have consistently added gameplay that is both exceedingly in-depth and addictive. No longer is a car just an instrument for winning races, it has been transported into an implausible goal, one that when accomplished fuels the desire for perfection. Every level of enjoyment that real racing can deliver is almost flawlessly enlisted in this series, and for those of you who have missed out on the adventure have literally missed out on video gaming history. Luckily, however, you can still relive any of these journeys through exploration of an aged product, but even better, Sony has given us the opportunity to begin a new venture, one that gives incredible detail to almost every facet, and accomplishes a feat rarely attainable.
By now you may know that the Playstation 2 is an incredible machine. Words are barely enough to describe the endless potential it is capable of achieving. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec has taken full advantage of the PS2, and has given us a glimpse of what is justly obtained by Sony's next-generation console. The pure innovation that has gone into this game is phenomenal. It is easily the best looking game out right now on the PS2, and backs up these visuals with killer gameplay that makes the graphics just that much more enjoyable. Car and track designs have been created perfectly with their real life counterparts, and present the gamer and in-depth look at something that he may never get a chance to experience. Sony has truly put themselves at the top of the 1st Party leaders, and should be very proud of what they have accomplished with GT3. As soon as I started the opening video, my jaw literally dropped as I was preparing for the best racing game ever made. I quickly chose my car and began a journey that would continue many months down the line. As I revved my engine for the start of an exhilarating race, I could hardly concentrate on the road. This was actually how in awe I was of this game. The pure eye to brain stimulation that is created here is outrageous, and you will tell yourself how long you've been waiting for a game like this to knock you off your seat. I simply cannot rant and rave about Gran Turismo 3's visuals anymore, just to tell you that each car can get a maximum of 20,000 polygons and that it is an injustice for you to not expose yourself to the best eye-candy you will see on the PS2 right now.
The environments of Gran Turismo 3 are crazy. The detail is so outstanding it's seriously as if you're watching a video of the course every time. A CG video could hardly show a difference between the amazing track design that has been developed here, and I, for one, feel no need for the presence of one. Every aspect in the background is perfectly sculpted, creating a racing environment that is not only exceptional, but in all honesty, overwhelming. As you race through what seem to be perfectly replicated tracks, you may almost want to stop and stare at the scenery. This, however, will cause you to lose every race, and is not advised. However, what you can do is marvel at the sheer beauty that is represented by Gran Turismo 3, and appreciate it for the level it has brought to gaming.
When dealing with gameplay for Gran Turismo 3, you might as well say you're dealing with gold. GT3 has basically taken this glamorous racer to a height that few games can reach. It incorporates wants and desires that other titles strive for. Overall, gameplay is near perfect, but it's so much more than that. There are so many elements that need to be examined for you to acceptably understand what type of game we're dealing with here. In that sense, I should almost stop referring to GT3 as a game, for it is far more than that. Gran Turismo 3 is the pinnacle of all racing games, and it's stellar scheme and game modes are what set it apart from even the most unique racing titles. Simply put, GT3 centers around 5 different simulation game modes: Beginner, Amateur, Pro, Rally, and Endurance League.
There are 6 licenses that need to eventually be obtained and they include License B, A, IB, IA, Rally, and Super. Depending on what tracks and what level you choose will depend on the license you will need to get. A standard of Gold, Silver, and Bronze will be set, and will need to be broken for the numerous tests presented at the License Center. Receiving your licenses and taking the tests is a great way to get a feel of how the control setup and mechanics work for different cars. It is an excellent preparation course, and readies a player for elevated merit when entering their first mode. Also placed in the game is an Arcade mode, which allows players to advance through selected courses and cars, and also distributes a brilliant 2-player feature that initiates competitive racing. For me, the Arcade mode was also a pronounced source to prepare for Simulation mode, and offered time trials that can be utilized perfectly when getting associated with Gran Turismo 3. As you venture through Simulation mode, the object is to obtain as many high-quality cars as possible, while excelling in numerous race series and circuits for necessary funding. I found this to be incredibly addicting, and the portion of the game that will challenge hours upon hours of your time.
The considerable number of cars presented is far less than GT2, but are of higher quality. Each car is separated into their noted company and assorted countries. While you are only allocated $18,000 to purchase your first car, the process has already begun. What will follow next is the endless desire to own top-notch cars and soup them up to speeds of exceedingly high proportions. While easily posting some of the best cars to grace any street at this time, GT3 lacks the company of old-time cars, excluding the lone Shelby Cobra. This is the only element that caused me to remove a tenth of a point from my score, and is something I hope will be remarkably looked into by Sony. Granted, a small amount of development time was given to Sony and their developers of GT3, but the presence of older style cars is an aspect that cannot be simply overlooked. However, as I've stated, the gameplay of this title is incomparable, and the very small problems associated with GT3 are so vastly overshadowed that one may forget any minor flaws. I can easily say this the all-time most addicting games I have ever played. A bold statement, yes, but undoubtedly backed up with amazing game physics and a setup that may need a patent for assurance.
The sound executed in GT3 is overall a gem. Combining both incredible sound affects and a fantastic soundtrack, Sony has once again come through with an element of a game that can truly either make or break a game. When considering the sound effects, car engines and squealing tires are portrayed at such a high standard you may actually have to check in front of your house to see that no one has just sped by in a drag race fashion. The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in a racing title, and besides a few setbacks in song tracks, an absolute enjoyment to listen to while racing. Your adrenaline will soar and your breathing will become rapid as you combine every element I have listed so far.
If it's real car driving you want, the control of Gran Turismo 3 is flawless. You will never witness the gross misinterpretation that a car traveling 180 mph can turn on a dime. Each turn must be well executed, utilizing the break and correct design path that will drive you into strict competition. A very simple button layout is presented with X pertaining to the gas pedal, square being break, circle covering emergency break, and triangle representing reverse. The mechanics and dual shock properties have been delivered in perfect strive allowing players to truly understand the physics of real life racing. While car damage has been eliminated, tire damage can become an issue as you continue through higher playing levels. With each tap of either the D-pad or joystick, your car responds in unison, giving the player full control of his vehicle, and leaving the fate of each race in his hands. If the control in GT3 were any different than what it was, possibly we would not have such a true-life experience to enjoy.
As we know, replay value is always an issue. Just as you may have imagined, Gran Turismo 3 once again provides in sheer excellence. With the overly addicting gameplay value, graphical perfection beyond all games, a flawless control scheme, and an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, GT3 has every element you can wish for, and will leave you playing for years to come. As new games are being released, you will continually find yourself returning to this seamless title, and enjoying it as you always have. Don't miss out on a game that could seriously change your life as a gamer, and cause you to have some of the most enjoyable playing experiences imaginable.
Well, possibly one of the best games to ever grace your PS2, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec has almost put all other games to shame. If for some reason you have not already picked up GT3, this is a deliberate order. Please don't make the mistake of categorizing this just as a racing title. It has some of the greatest features of any genre, and should be on the shelves of every PS2 owner. Even with the knowledge of some of the blockbuster hits expected to be released, I seriously do not think you will find a game more addicting than GT3. Owe it to yourself to experience Gran Turismo 3, you may not qualify as a gamer if you do not.†
8/1/2001 Matthew Stensrud