Weekend Discussion: Should we buy GT 5: Prologue?

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Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is looming around the corner, set for release in one month’s time. It is the first game for the PlayStation 3 to go Platinum on preorders, over 1,000,000 thus far. No doubt, the highly anticipated release of the Gran Turismo series on the PS 3 will not disappoint its legion of rabid fans.

In an interview with Car and Drive magazine in July 2007, producer Kazunori Yamauchi stated he was shooting for a Spring 2008 release, but would push the game as late as the end of 2008 if needed. Details of GT 5: Prologue surfaced about a month later, essentially as a bone for Sony to throw at fans while simultaneously making good on pushing GT 5’s release date farther back.

If you are a fan of the series, right now you may be – or at least should be – presented with a purchase dilemma. Consider the following two points before putting your name on that pre-order list.

Do you mind paying over $100 in total for the full Gran Turismo 5 software experience?

I say over $100 because Sony has shown a large amount of interest in the idea of having users pay for “extra” downloadable content such as tracks and cars. The $100 is comprised of the $39.99 for GT 5: Prologue and $59.99 for the full version of GT 5. As of this time, there have been no announcements to offer any sort of upgrade program for those who purchase GT: Prologue and later opt to purchase the full version of the game, GT 5.

Also consider that if you are the type who wants to experience the game’s full experience, you may need to purchase a new steering wheel / pedal setup, such as Logitech’s G25 ($242 on Amazon.com), since GT 5 will support clutch pedal functionality. If money is no object when it comes to fun read on.

Will playing GT 5: Prologue ruin the full version of GT 5 for you?

There’s a good chance, especially if you are the type of player who starts getting burnt out playing a Gran Turismo game before you ever get around to completing all of the Endurance races.

The reason I included this one is because whether we like it or not, there were not many enormous changes between GT 3, GT 4, and GT HD. Sure, the list of cars grew a little, HD resolution started creeping in at GT 4, and the graphics got incrementally better; however, for the most part, the series has featured many of the same tracks, the same physics, and much of the same artificial intelligence. For those players who have been playing the series for countless hours over the course of years now, we all know that sometimes you really can get too much of a good thing.

Yes, GT 5 will most likely deliver on its promise of bringing to us an enormous leap ahead of the past several titles in the series, with new features such as online play, fields of up to 16 cars in a race, in-cockpit views, full 1080p HD resolution on next-gen hardware, and more. GT 5: Prologue will have all of these features as well. In fact, it seems GT 5: P contains most of the new features that we can expect to be in the full version of GT 5. Herein lies a big problem.

By investing countless hours into GT 5: Prologue playing the 6 included tracks with the mere 71 included cars (I say mere because the final version of GT 5 will have enormously greater), some gamers will inevitably start getting burnt out before ever getting to experience the game in its full glory. It is arguable that the online component could make for endless replay-ability IF Sony gets it right, but that’s still up in the air. The experience could be ruined if there are no penalties for players who like to play bumper cars or drive backwards on a track.

There’s also the invisible barrier that the limited number of tracks and cars present, which may leave some players fiending with anticipation for the full game, while others may be pulling their hair out in frustration for the next 8 months.

With what little we know as of now, I will be waiting until the end of this year to experience GT 5 in its entirety as Kaz intended. What about you? Will you be buying Prologue or holding out for the full game? Have another reason I didn’t mention for deciding one way or the other? Would you be willing to buy new cars and tracks as DLC for Prologue in the PLAYSTATION Store if Sony plays that card?

[See also: Gran Turismo 5: Prologue gallery]

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