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Gran Turismo 3: A-spec
Score: 97%
ESRB: Everyone (Mild Lyric
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (i-Link: 6)
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Gran Turismo 3 are nothing short of astounding. When I saw the demo I thought, ''My God! They look REAL.'' There were actually times during replays that my mind would tell me I was watching video footage - just for a few seconds here and there in the middle of the replays, but it was unbelievable.

Well, the final version of the game offers no surprises in graphical quality - it's just as good as the astounding demo, only with a lot more game to play. I even managed to impress a (complete) non-gamer of the awesome realism when I showed her the wet night track demo replay. And the sounds? Dead on. You can actually tell the differences you do to your vehicle throught the different sounds of your engine. Pay attention to the sound of your engine and you can better determine your tuning. Also - there are appropraite changes in sound when traveling past a car, through a tunnel, etc. Gran Turismo 3: A-spec delivers an excellent racing experience. (Now, if I can just find a way to fix up my REAL car a bit...)

Well, the gameplay is definitely there. There IS an 'Arcade' mode, but I'll tell you flat out - the main attraction is the Simulation mode. In the Simulation mode, you 'buy' your first car, then win races and use the prize money to upgrade your car (engine, shocks, brakes, you-name-it) or buy new cars. The going is slow at first, as the prizes start small and get bigger as you try more difficult races, but if you manage your vehicle well, your car will be getting more powerful the whole time. The one gripe I have about the gameplay is the lack of used cars. One of the coolest features of the earlier Gran Turismos was the fact that you could buy and upgrade a car that you either own, owned at one time, or could feasibly own if you really wanted to. Gran Turismo 3: A-spec no longer has these used cars available. Instead, there's a lot more 'concept cars' to play with. Driving concept cars is really cool, but it's not the same as simulating something you could actually do if you wanted to pick up a second job and save up a bit. The fun factor is absolutely there, but it doesn't seems as, um, personal as the earlier games in the series.

One thing that's simply difficult in a Gran Turismo game is getting your licenses. Never had easy tests, never will. However, you can earn your licenses as you need them. It all comes down to 'practice makes perfect' - or better anyway. It might take a lot of trying to get it, but if you have the patience, you'll make it through. (If you don't give up for a while and play on the 'Arcade mode' - its more forgiving and lets you use more advanced cars earlier on.)

One thing you have to realize is that you set your difficulty by choosing your races. If you can't beat the race you're trying, race some more times on a track you've already beaten. That first place loot adds up fairly quick and you might be able to win the harder race if you could only afford to get that air intake you've been drooling over...

For casual racers, you'll want to rent Gran Turismo 3: A-spec before buying it. It's not your everyday 'arcade' racer. If you're into racing and want a beautiful showpiece to make Dreamcast owners cry, pick up Gran Turismo 3. Now.

Game Mechanics:
This game quite simply plays well. It's an excellent simulation and can be the showpiece of any PS2 collection. However, as great as the graphics are, I find that when I'm really trying to advance, I often wish there was a way to turn off the auto-replay feature. The developers apparently assume that since the graphics are SO good, you'll ALWAYS want to see your replay. (They must not have figured that I'd get to the last curve of a race I'm having trouble passing and crash into a wall, thereby dropping from 1st place to dead last. Or, if I did, that I'd be such a good sport that I'd want to watch the replay, as big as life, so I could laugh at my error. They were wrong.) I find that often when a reply comes on, I fumble with the buttons, desperately trying to turn off the replay and get back to trying it again...

Well, I guess if everything else is as great as it is, I shouldn't harp too much on such a small thing, but sheesh! - it should be an easy thing to do, just put an option in the Options menu.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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