Not your Grandma's Turismo...
Having revolutionized the genre, the Gran Turismo series is synonymous with racing brilliance. With two successful runs under its belt, the series is poised to break even more ground on the PS2. The third installment, Gran Turismo 3: A-spec, isn't due out until the Spring of 2001, but if the demo retrieved by the Game Revolution spies is any indication of the final product, we've got a lot to look forward to.
One of the great things about the GT series is the impressive lineup of available autos. A-spec continues this tradition with over 150 authentic cars from top Euro, American, and Japanese automakers. You've got your Acuras and Hondas with a helping of VWs and Bimmers, topped off with Ford and Dodge for good measure. Just about every mainstream car can be found here. The three cars available in the demo (S2000, NSX, and Mustang Cobra R) all look awesome. I can't wait to see what else Sony has in store for this game.
The series is famous for top quality graphics, and A-spec takes advantage of the PS2's power to give fans quite an impressive show. Fifteen courses will be available to choose from, including a few real life tracks. The demo only contains the Trial Mountain course, but it's easy to see just what a graphical accomplishment GT3 is shaping up to be. Cars are extremely detailed and accurately model their real world counterparts. Textures are looking great, too. You won't find any pixilated trees here, folks.
Of particular note are the "enhanced weather conditions." Sunlight effects in this game are some of the most amazing I've ever seen. Driving through a forest will reveal streaks of light breaking through the treetops, and that light will individually reflect off your shiny car as you pass through the beams. The heat emanating from the tarmac creates a haze. You'll also notice a brilliant looking sky that might as well be real. Prettiest racer ever? Yeah, probably.
Sound effects are also pretty impressive. I've never gotten a greater sense of power from the low growl of a video game engine before. The demo's featured music is classic...in an 80's sort of way. Mötley Crí¼e's Kick Start My Heart is actually a good tune to drive to, despite my constant visualizations of big hair and arena pyrotechnics. Oddly, it's perfect for racing excitement.
The realism that helped make the Gran Turismo series so successful is of course present in GT3. The handling and physics all seem accurate - the learning curve promises to be pretty steep. Both simulation and arcade modes are still available, making the game accessible to both hardcore racing fans and arcade drivers alike.
Yet to be seen is the level of customization that will make it into the game. One of the best things about the series is the amount of work you can do on your car. Hopefully, GT3 will keep all the custom goodies intact and maybe even throw in some new surprises to boot.
So far, Gran Turismo 3 looks like top quality racing love, spit-shined to perfection. If it can stay true to its successful roots and expand upon some already great gameplay, it's poised to become one of the best racing titles of 2001.