While the Playstation 2 has sold very well in the United States, Sony has yet to release a "killer-app" (a game that sells nearly one-to-one with the console itself). GRAN TURISMO 3 A-SPEC may be the first game to accomplish this as it is easily the best PS2 title to date.
GRAN TURISMO 3 is one of the most realistic racers I have ever played. From the little details on the cars up to the driving physics, everything is dead on. I know a little bit about racing concepts (speed limits? What are those?), and the game executes them with near perfection. Don't expect to floor it and never look back, you'll actually have to lighten up on the gas and actually use the brake button if you want to survive some of the more vicious courses.
With the realistic physics, some uninitiated may be surprised at how hard racing actually is. To be truthful, it is hard to replicate a true race on a TV screen. Even with the GT3 Steering Wheel (which I highly recommend), your body feels none of the acceleration or lateral Gs that you actually would if you took a corner at 85. That aside, everything else is dead-on.
The detail included is astounding. There are over 150 cars along with a plethora of tracks. All the little touches, such as brake lights, lens flare, and kicked up dirt on the rally courses, are used prominently. If the designers missed something, I didn't notice.
Now that I've gushed all over the game, there were a few small complaints. First and foremost, A-SPEC seemed little more than an enhanced version of GRAN TURISMO 2 at times. The AI drivers seem to use similar routines and don't seem very improved. The second gripe is that there was a little pop-up throughout the game at various times. Not a major issue, but it was there. Finally, I wanted more cars; call it greed, or call it the fact that the Volkswagon Jetta wasn't in there.
There's one more area I have to emphasize. That is the sound not only the groovy soundtrack (featuring major artists), but also the sound effects. From the crunch of metal to the revving of a 1000 horsepower engine, the sound effects are superb.
GRAN TURISMO 3 A-SPEC may stay in your Playstation 2 until the release of METAL GEAR SOLID 2. Its great engine, graphics and sound make it the highest quality PS2 title to date. This is a must-own.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: E
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A+
Reviewer's Wild Card: A+