Well this is what we have been waiting for. A true next gen renecarnation of the ever popular Gran Turismo series. But does it meet the expectations of this reviewer?
Due to the nature of Prologue, and meaning of the word its fair to see that this is no more than a teaser for die hard GT fans, so i won't be leaving a score for this version.
What your getting
For your money prologue contains 37 cars, a 16 player online mode, 5 tracks (however each of them can be raced in 2 different ways, so really theres 10 tracks) and GT-TV. As normal for Gran Turismo games, there is an arcade mode for practicing and an event mode.
Theres no doubt here, that Polyphony Digital have polished up this game to the max. The menu is slick, providing the users with an easy to use navigation system, on the same screen, it will display how much GT Credit you have remaining, a calender, the time, and even the weather, which isn't nessecery but provides a nice professional touch to the screen. Then the background, will show your currently selected car from your garage in all its glory, showing different angles of the car while being set in a town centre. This gives you a great first impression of the game before you have even played it.
The visuals of this game are to put it simply - Amazing. This really is one of the best looking games to grace a console ever. The level of detail in each car is immense. Even to the level that you can see some of the stitching on the drivers gloves when racing using the cockpit view. Each car looks identical to its real life counter part. All this is done with a solid framerate, however a very small but noticable amount of screen tear has occured, but this is rare, and doesn't affect the gameplay at all
How has this made the next gen leap?
Theres a large number of improvements beside the visuals, the first one fans of the series will notice, is there is now 16 cars on the track at once, compared with the mere 6 in previous games. This does offer the user a new challenge when racing with a larger amount of cars on the track you have to be more careful. Especially so as the AI is one area which has been improved by a fair margin. The first thing you will notice is how much more aggressive the computer AI is. In Prologue its not uncommon for you to be cut up, or even forced to break more often because of the computers actions. This is a massive improvement over the AI in previous games. A new race mode has now also been added, you have the choice of either a standard race mode which is really just a slightly improved version of the system in place in previous games, if you really loved this mode in previous games or are new to the series I suggest sticking to this mode.
There is also now a Professional mode aswell, this mode vastely improves the racing physics of the game and does provide the most realistic right of the 2 modes. If you want to see what Next Gen GT is capable of select this mode. Gran Turismo TV also its a nice new feature for this generation, it provides users with videos to download, with english versions of most video's on the japanise version of the game, which is always handy. GT-TV provides a great time buster, whenever you are catching up on what events happened at the toyko car show, or seeing how Polyphony helped nissan with the new GT-R. Really this feature is great for those car lovers out that.
The largest improvement I have found however comes with the new cockpit view, from this view it actually gives me the feeling that im actually driving a car, and not a remote control one. It has instantly become my favourite view and can only wish it becomes standard in all future racing games. I found using this view in professional mode provided the best experience. The of course there is the online mode. while it isn't what many people would have been expecting its still great to be able to finally race others in a GT game. There are two types of event online in this game, there is the normal Time Trial mode, which ranks your time against others in the world and then there is racing events where you race 8-16 people depending on the track, while it is disapointing that there is a lack of headset support and you can't actually choose who you race, PD have provided a solid virtually lag free system.
GT5: Prologue is a game worthy of the Gran Turismo name. It gives a real idea that the developers are working hard to continue to make this game the standard for all racing game. Really I do recomend this game to all the die hard Gran Turismo fans as it is a large improvement, however if you want value for your pound I would wait for the final version, however if this retails at around the £25 mark it will be worth it.
I do expect that in the final version the online mode will have depth added to it with the ability to create your own game and have full headset support. The one feature I am most looking forward to in the final game is the damage model which has been confirmed, plus the return of the upgrade system will also be welcome.