Gran Turismo 4: Prologue

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We all know Gran Turismo 4 is a highly anticipated game. It’s such a big deal in Japan that Sony released a special Playstation 2 package for Gran Turismo 4 Prologue. The package contains a limited edition white Playstation, memory card, vertical stand and a copy of Gran Turismo 4 Prologue. It’s kind of funny that Sony made this package because GT4: Prologue is a demo of Gran Turismo 4, it is not a complete version of the game. With this much hype Gran Turismo 4 and GT4: Prologue have a lot to live up to.


When you start GT4: Prologue up you have two game modes to choose from: school and arcade. School mode has a number of different objectives to complete that help you learn to play the game. While playing this mode you’ll learn to master skills like drifting and making sharp turns. School mode is great for people that are new to the Gran Turismo series. Arcade mode is what most Gran Turismo fans will recognize. In this mode you can choose a car and choose a track to race on. When you start the game out you have a limited amount of cars to choose from. The initial selection includes an Integra Type R, Skyline, Skyline Coupe and Lancer Evolution. You can unlock additional cars like the Honda Odyssey by beating levels in School mode. The track selection has a lot of variation. You can race on a traditional tracks like or street race in New York City or do a little off roading in the Grand Canyon. Each of the five tracks provides a different racing experience, which shows the versatility of the game.


Gran Turismo has always had innovative tracks, but that’s nothing without speed. One of the greatest problems with Gran Turismo 4: Prologue is that there isn’t the same rush of speed that you felt when you played Gran Turismo 3. You see the speedometer move up to 150 km/hr, but it doesn’t "feel" fast. Maybe it’s because many other racing games like Need For Speed Underground have been released, which sacrifice graphic detail for speed. Yes, Gran Turismo 4 looks beautiful. The car models look realistic, they’re extremely well detailed. The use of lighting in this game is also extraordinary. When light hits the car you can see a small lens flare and the reflective paint surface. The race tracks look awesome too. The New York City track captures the vast city and the Grand Canyon track has a spectacular view of the canyon. Everything is detailed, even the clouds in the background look great. However, when you’re in the middle of a race you don’t care about the backgrounds or the models of the car (well OK you still care about the models of the car), you care about speed. To some extent the graphic detail is a trade off. Gran Turismo 4: Prologue plays more like a visual treat for the eyes versus a racing game.


If you want more eye candy, GT4: Prologue sports full replays of you racing around the track. During the replays you can rotate the camera to see different shots of the car. These replays are probably the best part of the game. Watching your car get first place or speed past another car from different angles is almost more exciting than actually playing the game. As a bonus you can save an unlimited amount of replays on your memory card. So you can treasure your best racing moments forever.


While GT4 Prologue may be a visual treat for the eyes, it isn’t a treat for the ears. There is the absence of music throughout the game. It’s cool to hear the sounds of a roaring engine, screeching brakes and the occasional cheering crowd. While all of these sounds effects are realistic, including the sounds of different engines, without music it’s a yawn. Only die hard autophiles will have an appreciation to only hear their engine purr. The average gamer wants some music in addition to this, preferably energetic music to build the "rush" feel of a racing game. The sound of silence is also the sound of boredom.


The greatest problem with this version of Gran Turismo is the lack of multiplayer support. Who doesn’t want to race against their best friend? Racing games, like fighting games, rely on being able to play against someone else. While Gran Turismo 4 will surely have a two player mode, GT4 Prologue does not. Without this mode GT4 Prologue leaves you wanting more.


OK, so GT4 Prologue isn’t a complete racing game, it’s not meant to be. GT4 Prologue is designed to give gamers a taste of what Gran Turismo 4 is all about. The game sells for $20 in Japan and it’s worth it if you love cars, racing games or just want to try out Gran Turismo 4. There’s a lot of cars and a variety of tracks to try out, but without multiplayer support this demo gets played through really quickly.


Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 1

All of the cars names, options and menus are in English, but the school mode goals are in Japanese. Without some knowledge of Japanese, you will have a tough time unlocking more cars.


US Bound?

Don’t expect to see Gran Turismo 4: Prologue being released in America, but Gran Tursimo 4 will defiantly be coming over.


+ Pros: Playing Gran Turismo 4 before your friends, crisp graphics, doesn’t break the bank


– Cons: No two player mode, it’s still a demo, very very quiet


Overall: GT4 Prologue is a demo, don’t expect much more than this. If you can snag a copy for $20 it’s probably worth it, but most import game stores sell it for $40 or even higher. Once you get Gran Turismo 4 this will be sitting on the shelf.


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