What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an incredibly realistic racing simulator. While victory may require some aggressive driving tactics, all events are completed within the confines of a race track. Commercialism is very much in play with dozens of automakers prominently featured and ads for automotive companies like Michelin blanketing the scenery. The game is playable online, a feature Common Sense Media doesn't recommend for kids under age 12, although voice chat is currently unavailable. Parents of teen drivers may want to consider a recent study which suggests that playing some racing games can lead to real life risky behaviors.
What's it about?
To whet the appetites of longtime Gran Turismo fans, Sony unleashes GRAN TURISMO 5 PROLOGUE, a scaled-down version of the series that boasts an incredibly lifelike driving experience. Unlike the last iteration, which gave drivers over 700 cars to choose from, this precursor to Gran Turismo 5 offers about 70 vehicles, each of which look strikingly similar to their real-life counterparts.
Once you buy a car, you can advance to the single-player modes of three racing circuits, divided amongst six tracks. Some involve straightforward races. Others require beating a specific time or speeding from last to first in one lap. You must finish in the top 3 of each race in a circuit to qualify to the next level. At the end of each race, you'll receive points toward purchasing additional vehicles. You can play multiplayer on the same machine where you race using a split screen.
Is it any good?
Overall, the presentation in Prologue is gorgeous. Road textures look rough and gritty, while vehicles sparkle under sunlight. The series debuts an interior dash view, an unbelievably realistic vantage point for driving. You'll see your driver's hands move as he shifts gears. The first out-of-control spin you perform feels dizzying. The sounds of tires screeching and engines revving contribute greatly to the authenticity. The series still doesn't show the effects of damage. For example, your car can slam into a wall at top speed and still look good as new.
Cars handle very well, as each model feels as unique as they look. The pacing in difficulty is handled quite well. The beginners' C circuit gives novices a good starting point to learn the control basics and vehicle handling. Also, the vehicular skills of computer opponents ratchets up quickly as you progress to tougher circuits. Since you have few tracks and vehicles, both the single player and online modes are limited. But Prologue still packs a ton of horsepower.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the lifelike visuals. How close is this game to the real thing? Can racing games influence how you drive in real life? On a video game note, should companies release scaled-down versions of games to appease fans or wait to unveil a more robust experience?