When the original “Gran Turismo” was released in 1998, video game fans worldwide declared it the most fun, realistic racing game ever to hit home consoles. Combining real cars like the Dodge Viper with advanced driving physics, both “Gran Turismo” and its sequel became must-have games for racing and non-racing fans alike.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Sony

Three years later, Sony”s latest installment of the series, “Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec,” brings its tested gameplay to the Playstation 2.

The most notable aspect of “A-Spec” is its unparalleled graphics. Never before on any system has a game looked this good. Forget the days of polygonal shaped cars, as each car in “GT3” is shinier and more polished than your car will ever be.

The elemental effects of the game are equally impressive, especially the game”s advanced lighting effects. From the way the sun shines through the trees to the way light reflects off the side of a newly washed BMW, “GT3” makes other racing games want to hide their faces in the shadows.

While the look of “GT3” is without a doubt enhanced, little has been done to improve its objectives. In fact, aside from pretty graphics, the game seems identical to “Gran Turismo 2,” requiring you to earn money to buy more cars and better parts, while earning new licenses allows you to open new events.

The gameplay is also similar to previous “Gran Turismo” games. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as “GT2” featured some of the tightest controls ever seen on a home console. Unfortunately, many of the flaws of the previous games continue in “GT3,” most dealing with collision. For instance, cars never receive damage from opposing cars or obstacles. Rather than smashing into cars and breaking through fences, cars just bounce around in a fashion similar to the yellow Porsche in the movie “Commando.”

While these oversights are frustrating, the game features enhanced acceleration and braking. Taking advantage of the Dual Shock 2″s analog buttons, braking and accelerating is now determined by how hard you press the button down. While this change is cool, it will bring the blisters on your hands to a new level.

As for the multi-player modes of “GT3,” there is one new feature that makes the game standout. While the game still features a two player split-screen mode, the game now features an option that allows up to six players to play at once. Using an i-Link firewire cable, gamers can hook multiple Playstations and TVs to allow for experience similar to “Daytona USA” at the arcade. The only downside to this option is that you have to have enough money to afford TVs, Playstation 2s, game controllers, copies of GT3 and i-Link cables. So if you and your friends have a few thousand dollars to throw around, get ready for the ultimate racing experience.

The only other notable change to “GT3” is its new and improved soundtrack. While the previous games offered good songs from the likes of Garbage and the Foo Fighters, “GT3” offers more diversity with bigger names. The soundtrack features popular songs by Jimi Hendrix, Papa Roach, Lenny Kravitz and even an exclusive Snoop Dogg track called “Dogg”s Turismo 3.” While these songs make the game a more exhilarating experience, the game still lacks the originality needed to be a classic.

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