A few days ago I bought a copy of Gran Turismo 3 for my PS2, since it was only $12 second hand. (Yes, I know GT4 has been out for months now, but it still costs $60). I played it a bit on Friday and liked it but found it intensely frustrating to control, so I went out and got a Logitech GT Force steering wheel instead. Wow - what a difference. I've never driven a real car (and don't intend to, I can't justify it in ethical terms) but as far as I can judge it feels incredibly realistic; the steering wheel just keeps it on the 'nicely difficult' side of the dividing line beyond which lies 'excessively frustrating' (think about how much precision of control you have with a steering wheel and a couple of pedals, then turn the steering wheel into the tiny analog joystick on a PS2 control pad and the pedals into buttons - which on the PS2 control pad are actually analog, but the travel is so short you need superhuman touch to actually reliably get any response between 0 and 1). I've played many arcade-style racers on different formats - from Outrun and Chase HQ back in the day through to Ridge Racer on my PSP - and this is obviously and immediately utterly different - orders of magnitude less immediately amusing and more difficult, but ultimately much more rewarding than games where the car behaves like a go kart and just pings off in the direction you point it. Unfortunately my PS2 is old and has laser problems, which I think is why the game crashes every time I finish a real race...fortunately, the difficulty level and my perfectionist tendencies mean that I find just playing the license qualification tests and trying to get the gold scores so rewarding that I'm happy just to do that until I can afford to get the laser fixed.

I suspect many first-time players spent about an hour just trying to figure out what car to buy first (there are a hell of a lot of cars in this game), but for any right-thinking Initial D fan, the choice is a no-brainer; the Trueno AE86 comes in nicely under your starting budget...


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