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Gran Turismo 5 Prologue: Pretty. Slick. Racing game...

Pretty. Slick.

I can think of no better description for what I've experienced in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. The graphics are amazing - the 1080p Gran Turismo experience I've been waiting for... and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is just a sign of better things to come; it is merely a very, very playable demo. Gran Turismo 5 should be bigger and better. Prologue is just to wet our appetites.

The user interface has been massaged quite a bit and, although it's not release-ready just yet, it looks like Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will redefine gamers' expectations for level of polish and production quality.

When you first arrive at the Main menu screen, you will find that your "desktop" features a calendar and a clock, as well as a gadget at the top of the screen that indicates the weather in the different locations around the globe in which you could choose to race. Along the bottom of the screen, you'll find the icons for all of the selections you might want to make, such as racing Events, Online games, your Garage, Dealerships, etc. All of this is layered on top of an absolutely beautiful background featuring your current car in a car-magazine quality setting. The camera slowly pans or circles, and provides a beautiful, serene backdrop for your menus. If you don't make any selections for a bit, the U.I. overlay fades away, leaving you with the beautiful visuals and the awesome music...

Ah, the awesome music! The music in the menus of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue has a "lounge" feel to it and, as Psibabe pointed out, sounds very much like you're at a Sony Party at E3, if you manage to find the room intended for "chilling out." What I like best about the music, however, is how it is delivered. The music seems to be in 5.1 surround sound, as I could clearly make out different instruments coming from different directions while playing Gran Turismo 5 Prologue in my home theater. Furthermore, the music keeps playing when you switch back and forth between things. This, really, makes perfect sense; there should be no reason to have to abruptly stop the music when you have to load environments or the likes in a game, but, sadly, it wasn't until playing this game that I was able to see just how nicely submersive a game could be. When you're playing Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, suspension of disbelief is unhindered by whiplash-esque music changes.

Of course, the heart of any Gran Turismo game is the driving experience. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue stays true to the Gran Turismo line; you can't buy accessories for your cars and "trick them out", but you can tailor the handling of the vehicles and adjust the control from arcade to highly realistic simulation. Besides the differences in difficulty, Arcade mode lets you just jump in and play, while Career mode starts you out with a little bit of starting funds and you'll have to buy a car and win races to get access to the other cars.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue features online multiplayer support, but as of this writing, I was unable to test it out; I was unable to connect to the server and find a game. I assume the server side is probably still being tweaked for its upcoming release.

You can expect Gran Turismo 5 Prologue to be a show-piece in your PS3 library that will hold you over until Gran Turismo 5 hits the streets. You can also expect it to be available on April 15th and at a pricepoint of $40.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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