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4 Reviews

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue

PS3's ultimate tech demo proves beauty is in the eye of the key-holder

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue might only be a demo, but it's worth £25 alone to justify the £1000 you splurged on a PS3 and a 1080p HDTV. Prologue - the preview version of 2009's full-on GT5 - looks even better than the stills on these pages. It's the game you'll use to convince confused loved ones about the power of PS3.

The demo may have been available in Japan for a while, but thanks to the new Drift Mode and two-player split-screen, the UK version is the definitive package.

Thrill ride
Screeching down the course carved out of a mountain in Eiger Nordwand feels great. Crowds mill around trackside taking snapshots as you speed by, creating a real sense of race day action. Taking to the narrow streets of London in a Mini Cooper S genuinely excites as you whizz past recognisable landmarks like the neon Sanyo signs of Piccadilly Circus. And, as the interiors of every car have been recreated perfectly, you get to experience driving cars that you're unlikely to ever afford in real life.


Not without a crippling bank loan, anyway. Inside your chosen motor, virtual hands clad in Sparco racing gloves grip the wheel and shift gears in incredible detail. As always, the replays are worth checking out - exhibiting the fidelity of 1080p HD like nothing else. You can even record them to your hard drive and show off your skills to your mates. But this is all cosmetic - there's plenty more on offer.

Prologue really gives you a taste of the level of intricacy GT5 will incorporate. For learner drivers, there's a host of aids to switch on - like traction control to stop wheel-spin and driving lines to show you when to brake and accelerate, so you'll never feel out of your depth. But if you're a more advanced racer, you're in for a treat. You know that button that Jeremy Clarkson flicks when he's test-driving a car on Top Gear - the one that makes his voice go all high-pitched and his rubber jowls flap in the wind?

Well that's what happens when you turn off all the aids in Prologue - minus the flapping skin at least. Certain races require you to pinch as many split-seconds as you can to achieve a first place gold trophy, and the only way to do this is by playing in the most realistic way possible and turning all the aids off. Sure, you can get a bronze trophy with pretty little effort but the true test of skill is winning as if you were driving a real car.

Not-so-massive damage
However, Prologue still doesn't allow any cosmetic damage to its range of motors. Not even a wing-mirror will snap off after a side-swipe and all your metallic paint will remain intact. Come on Polyphony, if you're aiming to be the ultimate simulation - and Race Driver: GRID uses real-time damage (see page 46) then why can't GT? Sort it out. On the plus side, Prologue comes packing extra features to the Japanese version.


We get a Drift Mode, which works well but it's nothing compared to the arcade-style cornering from NFS: Pro Street and Juiced 2. There's also a set of new online race days to compete in, two-player offline split-screen races and the ability to get under the hood of your motor and tweak your vehicle's performance, rather than just relying on the Quick Tune option.

Prologue isn't perfect, but even lapsed GT fans can't deny the clarity of its 1080p visuals, or the thrill of taming its exacting physics. You might not like the idea of buzzing around in a VW Golf - chances are you know someone who has one - but it's unlikely that you'll get to thrash one around the F1 track of Fuji Speedway.

For £25, you won't regret test-driving GT Prologue - not only is it the perfect bridge between now and Gran Turismo 5 in 2009, but it's also the best-looking technical demo your TV and PS3 has ever had.

The verdict

The attention to detail is staggering and it handles like a dream. A true technical showcase.

PlayStation 3
Polyphony Digital
Sony Computer Entertainment
Racing / Driving