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Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PlayStation 2) artwork

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PlayStation 2) review


"80 events. Sound like a big number? It is. While the first GT featured a healthy number of events, and GT2 featured more than double as many events as the first, GT3 more than triples the number of GT2's events. There is also a lot more variety in the races here. "



The Hype:

Racing cars has always been a common premise in videogames. People love speed, and they love to be able to do things they wouldn't normally be able to do. But it wasn't until GT's release in '98 that people were really able to get a feel for how fast cars actually drive. Sony managed to pack in 160 cars, a large handful of tracks, an array of true-to-life car adjustments and upgrades and even three licenses to test your driving skills. Fans were stunned. How could it get any better? Well, GT2 answered that question for us by nearly tripling the number of cars, doubling the number of tracks, adding tons more events and better graphics. Now the question is, how could it get any better than that?

The Cars:

GT3 features 185 cars from 7 different countries. RUF, Maza, Mitsubishi, Honda, Mercedez, Audi, BMW, Citroen, Nissan, Dodge, Chevrolet... These are just a handful of the many dealerships which are featured in this huge game. Every car is designed according to the real thing, down to every tiny detail. The cars are mostly free of jagged-edges, and truly do look like the real thing. Sure, Gran Turismo 2 may have had more cars, but they didn't look a fraction as good as GT3's. I admit, I kind of expected more cars, but I totally understood why there weren't quite as many as before as soon as I started playing. Simply put, if they had to add 200 more cars, the game would probably be delayed a full year, and I'm thankful it wasn't.

The Events:

85 events. Sound like a big number? It is. While the first GT featured a healthy number of events, and GT2 featured more than double as many events as the first, GT3 more than triples the number of GT2's events. There is also a lot more variety in the races here. While in the first two games, events were categorized mainly by car weight, drivetrain, nationality and horsepower, in GT3, there are way more classifications. The events are seperated into five categories: Beginner, Amateur, Professional, Endurance and Rally. The beginner, amateur and professional races consist of a few cups (easier events with only a few races), events specific to car-type, events specific to car-model, high-speed events, national events, etc... The rally races consist of 10 different events through rough, bumpy and off-road terrain over some of the coolest courses I've ever seen, including a rugged road-trip through the swiss-alps. The only event that I think really should've been here that isn't is the Pikes Peak race, featured in GT2. The endurance races consist of 10 long, tense races through some of the game's most technical tracks. The shortest will take around an hour, the longest over three hours. These races are huge. So, as you can see, GT3 has an incredibly wide variety of events, which is basically the key to it's success.

The Upgrades:

As in the first two GT games, there are over 30 different upgrades you can do to your car. Engine modifications, turbo kits, tires, suspension, brakes, drivetrain, transmission, weight and more. The only real upgrade that was present in the first two games which isn't in GT3 is the ''racing modifications'' upgrade, which allowed you to paint your car with a special racing design, and add in a spoiler and ground effects. The reason for this is that, again, it would add on release time. They'd have to pretty much make another model for each car, which would take lots of time and effort. Other than that, all the initial upgrades are here, plus a few extras, like traction control. As expected, all of the modifications are true-to-life and realistic as can be.

The Physics:

The physics engine in GT3 is MUCH improved over the first two games. It's partly because of the stunning graphics, but also just because of how well-made the game is. This does make the game a bit harder, to a certain extent, but it's definitely for the better. New features include wet roads, improved rally race physics and an in-depth traction/car-vibration system. Yet, even with these changes, GT3 plays and controls essentially the same as it's predecessors. This means that if you were good at the first two, it won't take any special training to succeed in the third one.

The Licenses:

GT3 sports six different licenses, each with their own 8 driving tests: B, A, International B, International A, Super and Rally. Just like in the first two games, these license tests are timed sessions, usually little pieces of a course, which allow you to get three rankings; gold, silver or bronze. For the most part, the license tests cover most of the same stuff as in the first two games, but a much more easy-to-use interface was designed for the tests. Now, you can look at specs for your car, you receive a more in-depth explanation, and you can also view a demonstration, which is definitely helpful. Overall, these tests can be hard as hell to complete, but you'll have to in order to compete in all of the game's 80 events.

The Tracks:

GT3 took the best tracks from GT and GT2, and added in several new ones as well. It's really great to see all of the old tracks from Playstation games, brought to PS2. The tracks were kept exactly the same in every manner, except now the graphics are stunning. This is particularly noticeable on such tracks as Seattle Circuit and the Special Routes. All GT fans should be delighted to see their favorite tracks from the original two games brought to PS2 with a complete graphic-makeover. It's good stuff.

The Music:

GT and GT2 both had very good music, but it lacked variety. Both games featured less than ten songs, and after a while, they got very boring. GT3 solved that in two very successful ways. Firstly, they added a ton more tunes for added variety. It will take a very long time for you to get sick of the 30-some odd tracks featured in this game. Secondly, there is now an option to manage your playlist, ''turning off'' songs which you'd rather not listen to. If all you want to hear is 99 Red Balloons by Goldfinger or Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz, so be it. This adds a whole lot of flexibility which is sure to satisfy anyone who doesn't play the game muted.

The Verdict:

The fact of the matter is, GT3 is the best racing game ever made. It may not feature as many cars as Gran Turismo 2, but it more than makes up for this with superior car physics, more upgrades, more events, more tracks, better graphics, more songs and, overall, more replay value. When it comes down to it, this game will take longer to fully complete than any other racing game out there, and because it has such an amazingly realistic engine, you'll enjoy every minute of it.

The Scores:

Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Control: 10/10
Replay: 9/10


Rating: 10.0/10

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Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)

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