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Gran Turismo 3 is the latest in the line of racing simulations from Sony for the Playstation 2 platform. It's another instant classic and expands on the tried and true formula of the first and second games.

The game has the standard arcade mode offering (of course) sweet two-player action. But the real jewel is the simulation mode, where a player starts with a set amount of money and must purchase a car from over 200 available. You compete in single races, championships and series races to earn more and more cash to build and tune your roster of high-performance vehicles.

Sony got licenses from tons of car manufacturers for the game, so you'll be able to smash speed records with a tweaked out Dodge Viper or power slide corners with a Subaru Impreza WRX. If you don't own this game, go buy it. If you don't own a Playstation 2, go buy one - then buy this game!

Name: Gran Turismo 3
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation 2

GT3 is supposed to be very realistic, and it is, to a considerable extent. The graphics for the cars are frighteningly close to photorealistic, and the tracks and backgrounds are pretty close as well, all without any noticeable jaggies. GT3 is, as its predecessors were, challenging to control. You can't just jerk the analog stick to one side to make a sharp turn. Turns require various orders of slowdown, from releasing the accelerator to applying the emergency break. The main problem here, is that even if you crash your car headlong into a barrier, nothing happens, you just bounce off and spin out. Too bad.

There are two modes, arcade and simulation, the former being more for two players and the latter for one player. As you progress, you can earn higher licenses, compete higher stakes races, and gather enough credits to buy a big fancy car and tweak it out. The real prize, however, goes to the replay mode in GT3. Amazing camera work and brilliant effects (like the heat ripples on a blacktop track and dust being kicked up in a rally) make GT3's replays amazingly similar to real TV racing action, with the same camera angles and everything. You can even play with the camera angle, and access ultra-cool angles like the "camera right next to the front wheel" or the "camera on the top hood of the car". Combined with the already superb graphics of GT3, this is a real treat.

Also, GT3 features music from several popular artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Snoop Dogg, 8 Stops 7, Apollo 440, and others. The soundtrack is almost all good, and you have the option to disable songs you don't like and make a playlist of those you do.

Bottom line: GT3 rocks. Whether you buy it for the graphics, gameplay, or just the hype, you will not be disappointed. This game is one of the first real system sellers for the PlayStation2. If they all look this good, we're in for a helluva ride.

Gran Turismo's only flaws are not caused by bad programming, but by lawyers.

The lack of car damage mentioned by xmatt above is due to the reluctance of some car manufacturers to see their products get wrecked during game play--especially if realistic costs of repair are also implemented. This is also why the only reason to pit in on the longer races is to get your tires changed.

Another flaw is the lack of availability of some cars, and a glut of others. Lambourghinis, Ferraris, McLarens, and Porsches are nowhere to be found in the game, because these companies signed exclusive agreements with Electronic Arts and other companies for their vehicles to be modelled. Amusingly, you can buy cars from RUF, the "car company" that buys Porsche automobiles, then does enough tuning and parts replacement that the result is, technically to the German Government, a separate brand of car.

Less explicable are the lack of key models from brands that already exist in the game. Why did BMW only allow their 328i model in the game, and not the Z3 Roadster? Why didn't Volkswagen let any of their Jettas in? I would gladly have traded the access to 10 different models of the Mitsubishi Evolution or the Nissan Skyline for just one of these cars.

Despite these flaws, GT3 is still a great game, and a must for anyone who owns a Playstation 2. If you don't own a PS2, I recommend doing what I did and buying the pack that bundles GT3 with the console.

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