As usual, very much in progress...
Gran Turismo 3 - A-spec is the third incarnation of the 'real driving simulator' created by Polyphony Digital. Originally scheduled to be released at the launch of the Playstation2, the title was set back by several delays and was finally launched in the UK on the 20th July, 2001. GT3 has been hyped as the first Playstation2 'killer app', and Sony seem to be going along with this idea by including the game in a new PSX2 bundle pack.
Gran Turismo 3 follows the path laid out by its predecessors pretty closely; you can leap straight in with the Arcade mode if you're looking for a quick game, where you'll be given a cross section of cars and courses to choose from. New tracks and cars are released as levels are completed; your progress is recorded via a stylised map in the Bonus Items section. Of course, the real fun is to be had in the Gran Turismo mode; here you start on the bottom rung of the racing ladder, get a licence, buy your first car and slowly work up the ranks.
For the original Gran Turismo, the defining moment for me was watching someone's face as they saw the beginning of a replay; of course, GT wasn't photorealistic, but the game had a strong presence that seemed to push beyond the boundaries of the television screen. With the increased processing power of the Playstation2, Polyphony had a lot more horsepower to play with; the results are breathtaking.
From the moment the introductory CG animation rolls onto the screen, the sheer professionalism of the performance shines through. Starting with an internal view of an engine, with petrol flooding into a waiting cylinder, the viewer is treated to broadcast-quality editing and effects showcasing the cars and tracks.