#464 Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

Posted: 4th August 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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74th game played so far

Genre: Driving
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2001
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Between the two of us there is probably no genre of video game that we can not cover with grace and enthusiasm… except for realistic racing games. Despite one of us having links to the world of rally car driving (hint: it’s not me) neither of us are that interested in cars in either the gaming world or the real world. I mean the only reason we watch Top Gear is for the witty banter and challenges rather than the varitable autoporn.

Howvever, this will not stop us from giving this, what is viewed as one of the best driving games ever made, the same treatment that we have for games which tickle our personal fancies.

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec was called a the PS2’s “killer-ap” upon release and it really helped to define this console’s image when compared to it’s contemporary consoles. This is expecially so since the Xbox was yet to see the light of the public gaze.

Our Thoughts

Despite the fact that I wrote the introduction to this game it was not me that got to know it’s nut and bolts. True, I played a number of races and actually did better than either of us expected but this was truly a Jeroen game so I will be leaving most of this to him. Part of this seems to have been thanks to my family history. As you can clearly see, this is a racing game. I haven’t driven a car in nearly a year, to be honest, although that doesn’t immediately apply to these games anyway. But my father had a lot more experience than that anyway. Mostly a car mechanic, he’s been on severaly rally races as a mechanic to help out, and even was a navigator in some of them. Mostly exciting, although there were some narrow moments that barely kept him out of hospital. So yeah, all of the things in the game made a bit more sense to me, even if it’s never been a great interest. Which explains why you immediately tried to buy an Alfa Romeo. Absolutely. It’s the family favourite, and my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to do anything else.

You see, Gran Turismo isn’t just a racing game, where you get dumped on a track and do your rounds. No, you need to buy your car, and with the money you have left and that you earn from your racing, you need to tweak your car. Install a turbo, add a lighter body, change your tires, make sure it all works best together. Even down to you being able to wash your car between races, should it be necessary. The range of options is huge and quite overwhelming at the start. It’s worth taking your time to consider. In the end, however, you do have to race, and that’s where my errors are exposed, not having the right fine-tuned control over the PS2 controller just yet. I guess that this is where our lack of experience in the racing/driving genre (someone explain the difference to me) shows. When it comes to games like Mario Kart Wii and F-Zero X I am always up there near first place when against the PC… but when you actually need to give a damn about oil, breaking and tyre tread then we both come slightly unstuck. Well, you do. I actually did better here than I did with the other games, possibly showing some results from my genes after all. Also, I doubt either of us considered Australia as a powerhouse of car manufacture.

What also helps is that, so far, we seemed to be mostly indestructible while racing. To be fair, most race tracks aren’t delined by rocks and mountains, but more often walls and tires that absorb an impact better, but even then we can mostly just keep driving on in this game. If this game had been slightly more realistic then I would have regularly been sans wing mirrors nearly every attempt I made at racing. Absolutely true, and the amount of bumping off the road – often thanks to your opponents wanting to stick to their racing line without taking into account that you’re driving there.

Despite the fact that this game was realised near the consoles release date I have to say that I am surprised how crisp and polished the game looks. Ten years later the graphics and sound are still pretty decent. Some parts of the world look a bit dated – the audience itself was more just some white and red dots, rather than something that might look a little bit better – but overall it looks nice enough. It helps even more here that you don’t have much time to pay attention to the graphics anyway, as you need to pay attention to staying on track. The sound is better in that sense, although you mostly hear the cars anyway. There is background music – a good soundtrack that fits in well, with mostly rock influences – but the engine sounds themselves are quite loud and are more important. If we did a direct comparison between this game and a recent one (such as Dirt 3) then we would definately see a big difference when it comes to aesthetics, but this was head and shoulders above other games released at that time. And it shows. The game, despite our lack of interest in the genre, is a good one, and I found myself racing a few more laps after I just tried some customizations… just so I could see how it’d go. Also, the amount of unlockable cars and races available would keep an avid fan occupied for months.

Final Thoughts

In total nearly 15 million of this title was sold around the world making this the second highest selling game for the PS2 after Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Since neither of us are really in the position to judge the merits of racing games in relation to others then this is the last we’ll say about that and we apologise to those who disagree with our opinions… but thems the brakes.

  1. […] difference was between racing and driving games. This was especially fueled by our realisation that Gran Turismo 3 was a driving game whilst Micro Machines is considered a hybrid of the two. Either way it was good […]