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Gran Turismo 3 A-spec
Review By:  Joe Rolfe
Developer:   Polyphony Digital
Publisher:   Sony
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Driving
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   7-23-01

Since the original installment came out in 1998, the Gran Turismo series has been regarded by many as the greatest racing simulation to ever appear on a console. Containing literally hundreds of cars, tracks up the wazoo and realistic graphics and physics, the GT titles have always carried a huge fanbase on Sonyís PlayStation. Never was it so evident how large this fanbase was once Sony and Polyphony originally announced Gran Turismo 2000, a semi-sequel to Gran Turismo 2, intended to appear on the PlayStation 2 as a quick racing fix for the fans. Despite numerous delays and a name change, the now-titled Gran Turismo 3 hype grew larger and larger as its release date became closer and closer. Itís finally arrived.

Letís make one thing clear: everyone knows how spectacular most aspects of GT3 are. The visuals, audio, cars, etc. -- thousands of previews and showings have displayed this. So I wonít waste much of the readerís times with more hype towards the game, and rather explain the few, small but sometimes annoying problems that disallow Gran Turismo 3 from being an impeccable racing title.

Despite being heralded in advertisements as the next step in racing intelligence, the AI in GT3 shows rare improvement from most other racing titles on the market. The cars manage their speed and braking timing well, but the problem is that itís all too well. Instead of battling opponents for position and time by switching in and out of lanes, out racing one another, each of the five other opposing cars simply go in a pre-determined line without any real dramatic changes in their course. Even if you knock an AI racer off course, or cut him off and push the opponent into the wall, the AI, instead of finding the fastest route to the front of the pack, will hop straight onto their path again... and again... and again. Adversaries never really try to fish tail you or block the player from passing, but will instead just drive in a straight line, turn for a corner, and keep on going on that line. Repeat for each change in the trackís geometry. In the end, it never feels like a true nitty gritty race, and the only time it feels as if thereís some drama in the race is when the player drives an under-powered car and has to continually play catch-up with the opposition. Letís just pray that Polyphony can up the ante in this department for GT4.

Outside of the lacking AI, however, Gran Turismo 3 really has few scratches to its name. Visually, GT3 is a knockout. Incredibly detailed cars, jaw-dropping special effects (rainy tracks and dust clouds), and a consistently smooth 60-FPS rate makes GT3 the standout on the showroom floor. There is no need for CG openings anymore, as the in-game graphics for GT3 are just as graphically stunning as any pre-rendered movies. The only small (and I mean small) gripe I have towards the aesthetic part of the game is the weak inanimate objects. The little characters standing on the outside of the track look like cardboard cutouts and seem fake against the breathtaking beauty appearing on the race way. Otherwise, Gran Turismo 3 is simply awe-inspiring.

GT3 retains the same basic design as the former titles, containing both an Arcade mode and Simulation. Of course, the real meat of the game lies within the Sim option, again having the gamer attempt to earn six different licenses, rewarding you with bronze, silver or gold medals for how well you accomplish the license tasksí. Even with the AI quirks, the retained gameplay of the Gran Turismo series is still a cut above mostly anything else out on the market.

GT3 also includes an improved Rally mode and hidden F1 cars as well. Improving and upgrading your car is easier than ever, displaying menus to explain each part and item to buy and how they affect your vehicle. All of this is paced along by crisp, easy to follow menus and very short load times.

The music in GT3 was one of the hardest parts to judge. For the most part, it is a very diverse selection of tracks, ranging from old 80ís classics from Motley Crue to new hip-hop by Raekwon, plus a lot of pop and techno in between. Even Snoop Dogg did a personal song for the game, aptly titled "Doggís Turismo 3". Some of the music tracks canít really be felt while racing, while a handful of songs can really pump you up in a race and heighten the adrenaline rush. And if you donít like any of the songs, just listen to your own in a CD player. Easy.

GT3 also contains a plethora of car engine sounds and revs, each meticulously matched to their real life vehicle counterparts. Sometimes itís fun just to race or watch a replay of a battle between the S-class cars, as hearing their whining engines zip by on loud surround speakers is downright immersive, as if you were in an arcade booth. The only problem I had with the aural area is that there is no mixer or sliders to alternate the depth and volume between the sound effects and music. You can never really quite hear the music loud enough at itís pre-set level, although the S/E come in quite clearly.

On whole, GT3 did not disappoint. Although the game still feels a bit more like a GT2.5 than a true sequel, the updated graphics and outstanding gameplay formula can still take up weeks, if not months, of gaming time for those interested. The game weíve all been waiting for since the PS2ís launch is thankfully here, and it comes through in a big way.


  • Simply gorgeous visuals
  • Nice musical mix
  • Classic GT gameplay with incredibly deep replay value
  • Did I mention the graphics are outstanding?


  • AI can be spotty and boring
  • Opponents seem "emotionless" and just drive forward
  • Are those mushy pixels supposed to be bystanders?


No, itís not quite impeccable, but even on itís worst day Gran Turismo 3 still outshines anything else available. You need this game.

Overall Score: 9.4

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