I received my copy from Play today and got it installed ASAP. Having played right through the series from GTR, GT Legends, GTR2 and even Race '07, I had my hopes high for this.
I shouldn't have had any doubts. GTR Evolution is simply THE cutting edge in terms of what a driving simulation should be. Yes, the graphics are merely pretty and the sounds are good. But combined, they are simply 'fillers' for the core of the game - and that is the handling and dynamics of the cars themselves.
Having few (if any?) racing games on the PC that accurately represent the sacred Nordschleife circuit - that was my first port of call on GTR Evolution. Selecting a Koenigsegg CCX in bright orange (what else?!) and heading out onto the 'Ring - I realised that I was waaay out of my depth. Keeping the car on track was a feat in itself, but even when struggling with that, the handling model of the game shone through. Fish-tailing under heavy braking, tail-happy powerslides and rapid changes in gear as the redline was reached all too soon.
Deciding I had bitten off more than I could chew to start with, I switched cars and chose one of the Caterhams on offer within the game. What a transformation! No longer under the hellish acceleration of the CCX, I now had the chance to savour the large power band of the Caterham and 'prep' the car for the next oncoming corner.
Following a computer controlled Caterham, I managed to keep the blue car in check - just - the AI drivers' seeming to have the great balance of being a challenge to beat, yet not a complete pushover. There's even the neat little addition of having a key to pull off one of the tear-off strips on the visor. The attention to detail is that good.
Sure enough, the overall charm of what GTR 'is' let itself be known in a mere half lap. There are plenty of racing games out there that look better, have more options, have more cars and tracks to choose from - but nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the latest GTR incarnation in terms of car handling.
Granted, you'll need a decent wheel and pedals combo to get the most out of it (GTR Evolution itself supports many wheels - including arguably the best of the moment - the Logitech G25) - but it is SO worth it. However, if you're into your racing games enough to even consider this, then you probably have a decent control setup already. And as a fresh addition to the series, there's even the option to have engine 'rumble' come through the force-feedback wheel as well. Just don't set it to maximum. It feels like driving over a field of bricks!
Put simply. If you want your jaw to drop at stunning visuals and simply have fun in a racing game - pick Gran Turismo Prologue on the PS3. If however, you can look past graphical perfection and instead, want to be rewarded for pure driving simulation - then GTR Evolution really is your only choice.
And the icing on the cake? You simply cannot argue with the price of £17.99! For anyone who considers themselves even as a part-time petrolhead - you need this in your collection. Just brilliant.