Normally a sample of an upcoming game is released as a free demo, or perhaps dangled as a promotional incentive for people who preorder the title. This week's release schedule sees an exception, as Sony will start selling Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for the PlayStation 3 at retailers and through its own downloadable game service for $39.99.
However, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is much more than a simple demo. The game includes more than 70 vehicles and six different tracks (with some alternate layouts thrown in for good measure). On top of that, it marks the first time the series has gone online, with multiplayer races for up to 16 players.
While this Gran Turismo side project is the first to be sold in the US, Japanese gamers have been offered similar titles before. In addition to Gran Turismo 4 Prologue, Sony released a handful of stripped-down Gran Turismo Concept games, featuring as yet undeveloped cars featured in international auto shows.
Beyond that, it's a light week for console releases. Only the Wii has other retail releases scheduled, as Nintendo's system is set to receive ports of the PlayStation 2 hit Okami and the PC offering Dream Pinball 3D, as well as Summer Sports: Paradise Island.
PC gamers have a little more to look forward to, starting with Europa Universalis: Rome, the latest installment in the long-running strategy franchise. This week also sees the PC receiving a port of the Xbox 360 and PS3 shooter Turok, as well as a new Sherlock Holmes title and another Sims 2 accessory pack.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue might be the highest-profile downloadable launch of the week, but as usual, the Wii and Xbox 360 are both adding to their online catalogs. The frantic Sega Genesis arcade shooter Mega Turrican can be added to the Virtual Console for 800 Wii points ($8), while Sega Master System shooter Fantasy Zone is available for 500 Wii points ($5).
Over on the Xbox Live Arcade, Pinball FX developer Zen Studios is set to launch its stand-alone Rocky and Bullwinkle minigame collection this Wednesday for 800 Microsoft points ($10). Atari also has another remake headed to the downloadable game service, as its original arcade tank game Battlezone will be released for 400 Microsoft points ($5). As with other Atari revamps, Battlezone will include original and enhanced versions of the game.
This week's new releases are listed below (list compiled from publisher and retailer information--actual dates may vary).
APRIL 14, 2008
Major League Baseball 2K8 Fantasy AllStars (DS)
Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis (PC)
Dream Pinball 3D (Wii)
APRIL 15, 2008
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (retail) (PS3)
High School Musical 2: Work This Out! (DS)
Europa Universalis: Rome (PC)
Cory in the House (DS)
Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! (DS)
Final Fantasy XI: Vana'diel Collection 2008 (PC)
The Sims 2: Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff (PC)
Rondo of Swords (DS)
Summer Sports: Paradise Island (Wii)
APRIL 16, 2008
Rocky and Bullwinkle (Xbox Live Arcade)
Battlezone (Xbox Live Arcade)
APRIL 17, 2008
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (downloadable) (PS3)