Gran Turismo 5: Prologue PS3

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue PS3
When is a demo not a demo? When it’s called Prologue, sets you back 40 bones, breaks sales records and spurs console sales.

Just as they did during their last turn around the track back in 2005, Gran Turismo’s developers have rolled out a preview version intended to whet appetites, if not sate them, until the full meal deal crosses the finish line sometime next summer (or later).

Prologue has sparked considerable debate over whether it’s worth it to pay for a portion of an eventual game, though this "portion” still boasts 70 cars (ranging from Ferrari to Ford), a kick-ass soundtrack (Weezer, Mars Volta, DJ Shadow, Justice) and 16-player online racing. On the other hand, there are only six race tracks to choose from and until a downloadable patch is made available in the fall, there is no vehicular damage during crashes.

Now, the obvious way to avoid grumbles would be to offer a GT5 discount to Prologue owners but that’s an issue separate from the game itself, really, because this fraction of the eventual game is still almost as big as many other racers.

The 50 million-selling GT series is for people who love cars and are unwilling to settle for faux autos. It’s nearly pornographic how much attention has been put into the way the light reflects off the paint or how the lifelike car hugs the road and handles the curves.

I greatly enjoyed the ultra-realistic graphics and handling — not to mention clocking wins in an itty-bitty Austin Mini — despite being fonder of crash-’em-ups like Burnout. Of course, that’s at least partly due to the fact that I tend to crash a lot anyway so thankfully, GT5:P includes plenty of newbie-assisting settings to stabilise the steering and show you where, and how fast, to take corners. After a few times around the track, even doubters will be raring for another go.

So, no, it might not be a good deal but for racing fans sick of spinning their wheels at the starting line, rest assured Prologue is a good game. (Polyphon Digital/Sony)