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Ben’s Week In Review: March 30

We are officially less than one month away from the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV – which I'm thoroughly psyched about – and for once, I might actually be caught up enough to invest a serious amount of time into it right off the bat. But there's another awesome release in April coming up that I ain't gonna miss, either…

Will we see more "Prologues" in the future?

This past week, we learned that Gran Turismo 5 was still about a year away , which disappointed many a racing fan. However, with Gran Turismo 5: Prologue releasing on April 15, we'll get a healthy dose of what should be the best racing game of the generation, and that's nothing to complain about. I still wonder, though…is Prologue a prelude of things to come in the industry? Think about it, demos are becoming more and more popular, primarily due to the rise of the PlayStation Network and Store. In fact, gamers are already starting to expect playable demos for high-profile titles, and in turn, many developers are granting their wishes. But what about blockbuster games that are still a long ways off, like GT5? Will Sony and Polyphony be the first and last to produce a demo that's so deep, it's bordering on a full game? Think about it- they're going to sell millions of copies of Prologue , and even though it's at a lower $40 price point, we're still talking about the same game . That's like almost doubling initial profit expectations!

Of course, it needs to be something people are going to buy, so it would have to be a massive title like GT5. Square-Enix could do it with Final Fantasy XIII , for example; just release the first few hours of the game, or something. We're talking about greatly enhanced demos, here, not the 10-minute downloadable demos we're already used to seeing. Question is, is Prologue merely blazing the trail for more demos-on-steroids that cost money? I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing…

Anybody else looking forward to Top Spin 3?

Being a tennis player myself, I've always liked the tennis video games, especially when they're simulators. The original Top Spin , while being far too easy, was still great fun, and the second ramped up the realism even more. I'm looking for another big update out of TS3, and while I hardly put great stock in celebrity or athlete endorsement, I like what Maria Sharapova had to say about it. She's probably not a huge gamer, so she might've been "amazed" at just about anything 2K Sports generated, but even so… I think one aspect of the TS series they need to work on is the serve, because it has been significantly downplayed in the first two entries. Big servers should be able to blast out 20 or more serves per match, but it was always exceedingly difficult to do that. Furthermore, it was far too easy to return a serve; if you ever stood back there attempting to return a 140 m.p.h. bullet from Andy Roddick, you'd know what I mean. Much of the return is just about luck, in that if you're caught leaning in the wrong direction, you're screwed. With tough servers, you often just have to guess .

The other enhancement I'm looking for is a balancing of the ground stroke game. In the first TS, it was far too easy to hit a winner; in the second, it was too difficult. They need to find a happy medium that tests your skill and your opponent's maneuverability without leaning too far in either direction. Beyond that, I do have faith in 2K Sports, and I'm definitely looking forward to playing Top Spin 3 .

P.S. As hot as Sharapova is, I must say, the hottest chick on the women's tour today is right here.

Personal gaming update

As I said in the intro, I should be in a good position when GTAIV releases at the end of April. I'm right at the end of Lost Odyssey , and even though I'll be pursuing more side-quests, I will also complete it this week. After that, I should get a good four weeks with Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds , which will make me very happy. It's what I've been waiting for, but like I've said in previous weekly updates, I wasn't going to break the seal on HSG until I had completed Lost Odyssey . And I've kept my word. But before GTAIV comes Prologue , which is another game that's definitely on my list. The good news, however, is that it shouldn't take very long to complete – as big as it is for a demo – which means by April 29, I should be all primed and ready to go on GTAIV. Being a huge fan of the series on the PS2, I have nothing but the highest expectations for that title, and I'm really hoping Rockstar comes through. I'll be handling the review, so be sure to look for it not long after April 29!

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K Phantom
K Phantom
16 years ago

You did not just say that there is tense player hotter than Sharapova. I mean Ana is OK but if you google her name and see the pix you'll see that she only took a few good photos, the one you have is also good. You just side tracked me from things that matter most to me, GTAIV. I'd give my left kidney (and my liver) to play this game right now. I truly can't wait even thou it will be in the week when I am supposed to get ready for my finals. I hope GTA IV doesn't have the same bugs Assassin's Creed had. Now I have to buy Assassins Creed to actually play the game on my PC. Great month is coming ahead of us and I can't wait to hear more about Resistance 2(not a fan of MGS, too slow gameplay)

16 years ago

On the subject of "demos that you pay for", Gran Turismo is really the only series I can see it working for. GT gameplay is very granular (races, cars, tracks), it's easy to break it down into a small, self-contained chunk.

Plus GT fans are (in my opinion), older as a group than most gamers, meaning they are more cashed up. They have investments in expensive racing wheels and the like, which makes the cost of Prologue easier for them to swallow. Also, in my experience a large number of GT players own their console solely for that game. So when you factor in the cost of console and wheel, Prologue itself is chump change.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
16 years ago

K Phantom: I've watched Ana play. …you can't take a bad photo of her. 😉

16 years ago

Well, Europe had GT4 prologue many moons ago and mo other franchise followed it so I doubt that will happen now. I agree with endlessfloods opinion on the matter. As for other racers out there, 6 tracks and over 60 cars is about all you get in the final release anyway 😀

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