Gran Turismo 5
For die-hard fans and driving aficionados only.
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Writing a review for Gran Turismo is as hard as not crying when you see your first born child take his first steps. Okay, maybe the analogy isn’t the best but in a way, if I’m Kazunori Yamauchi, I’m feeling pretty swell. After all those years of hard work and jokes at my expense, seeing my efforts and devotion finally hit retail shelves makes me an emotional fellow. Over the last two years, Gran Turismo 5 was the laughing stock of the gaming industry. Releasing, not releasing. Delayed, not delayed…hence, tough times. Holding the official retail copy in my hands was special.
Roughly 50 minutes later (the time it took to install on the hard drive - which I didn’t need to do, but since it was HIGHLY recommended, I had to), I started racing in front of my 40” TV with my nifty steering wheel. A few hours later, it finally struck me: Gran Turismo 5 is huge. Days passed...am I having a good time? Not at all…and I’m not seeing anyone else having fun with it either, unless you’re part of a special group of racing nuts that have considered trading their wife and kids in for a Lamborghini Murciélago or a dinner with Kazunori Yamauchi himself at one point.
You see, Gran Turismo is - and will always be - a racing simulator. I mean, it says so on the box art. Seeing it on a shelf beside copies of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, BLUR and Splt/Second doesn’t add up. Those who decide to pick it up expecting exhilarating gameplay and high-five moments with their buddies will end up very disappointed because Gran Turismo 5 isn’t about having fun, its about savoring every single car - down to the nuts and bolts - the same way one would eat caviar. It doesn’t make it a bad thing but to me, it’s an experience more than a video game. Much like Microsoft’s long-gone Flight Simulator franchise, Yamauchi’s latest lovechild aims at a very niche and advised gamer.
Gran Turismo 5 starts in GT Mode, a dashboard where all the main features are found. Once a driver profile is created and a poor man’s car is acquired, you’ll hit A-Spec mode to work your way up the ranks. Winning races will net you credits to buy and upgrade any future cars you may set your sights on. Securing additional licenses via a variety of mini-events in the License Test menu will grant you access to even more challenging race events. There’s also a B-Spec mode where you’re given an idiotic A.I driver that you need to manage, train and nurture to make him become champion, whether its outside or on the race track. Ever played the Colin McRae games? Remember that British guy that tells you where to turn, accelerate and such? Well, its rather similar..but really, who wants to spend time playing as a GPS? Up to six drivers can be earned but being incredibly boring as it is, the feel to play the mentors will wear off rather quickly...unless someone has been praying to the Polyphony Gods for years just to get this mode. Certainly, it would have been interesting to see my trainings eventually improve the game’s zombie AI and teach them to not brake unexpectedly or being more aware of their reckless driving behavior. Those who’ve been playing GT games since the beginning are certainly asking themselves how come this isn’t fixed yet?
Special events such as WRC, Top Gear Test Track, Super GT, NASCAR and Karting - which for some reason are completely separate from A-Spec - will also become available as you progress through the game and add an extra layer to an already jammed pack experience. The only positive of seeing these modes not being included in A-Spec comes from the fact that there’s lots of easy XP and money to be had in comparison to the A-Spec events.
The heavily-Japanese car selection available here may be huge (more than 1000) but unfortunately, most of them aren’t that new since they have been featured in previous GT games. With various models of a single car being presented, only the true aficionado will actually fall for the high car count. I would never buy a Miata in real life...so would I give a hoot for its 20+ variations here? Even worse, only 200 of those 1000+ (known as “premium” cars) look great, with each its own cockpit view and highly detailed interiors. The rest, well, they aren’t that well rendered. Most of them don’t even look PS3-powered. Some standard models don’t even allow for cockpit view. For those who own Gran Turismo PSP, the option to import your portable garage is also available. I felt like mentioning it here although its not a game-changing experience.
Car visuals don’t always impress and the same can be said about the tracks and environments, which are jarred with jaggies and texture pop-ups despite the heavy HDD install. The weather effects and shadows usually add something special and some eye-candy to the experience but here, and depending on the track, it makes it only half-amazing. Though Gran Turismo 5 remains visually impressive, you can’t go out and ask yourself why are we still dealing with these kind of issues when they’ve clearly had enough time to work on it. Maybe if they didn’t spent all that spare time adding an oil change feature, a 3D viewing option or a PS Eye-enabled head-tracking feature (if you have the Eye connected, moving your head side to side will shift the camera view while racing in cockpit view), they could have been resolved. Each car has its own distinctive engine roar when riding solo but once you hit the tarmac with others, the droning sounds are fairly similar. As for the soundtrack...well, there’s nothing really amazing to talk about. The jazzy music will eventually make you fall asleep. Custom background music is available but it has been limited to in-race only. As soon as you’re done, the default soundtrack kicks in.
While on the subject of complaints, as of this writing, I was able to successfully log-on the online servers and race a few times before giving up completely. For some reason, Polyphony Digital knows how to make each car handle differently and realistically, but has no clue how to build a solid - yet functional - online realm. On top of not having a proper matchmaking system, searching and joining an available game from a list of servers is a pain. There’s no indication of what type of race you’re getting, the car power and/or driver levels. You can’t invite friends into your private lobby or the game you’re currently racing in either. Friends who want to join you need to access your game via your in-game profile in their game...unless you give them a friend code. To fight the lack of matchmaking, each created lobby has an unique 20-digit code. Tell your buddies to select the little globe at the bottom-left side of their online room selection menu, punch in the code and join your game. Silly, isn’t it? Well, that’s IF you manage to jump online. The last patches released by Polyphony Digital failed to improve anything. At least there’s a two-player offline split-screen mode.
One of the most talked (and highly requested) features for Gran Turismo 5 was exterior car damage. Well, it’s here and for the first time in the franchise’s history, both exterior and mechanical damage are part of the experience. However, don’t expect to be blown away by it for various reasons. First, none of the cars will suffer from the wrath of your poor driving skills until Level 20 is reached. For ultimate damage (car flipping included), Level 40 will need to be attained. The choice to not have it available right our of the box is questionable but I can see what Polyphony tried to accomplish: rewarding those who log an incredible amount of in-game hours. However, what you get in the end isn’t that amazing. Damage modelling is incredibly superficial and at times, barely noticeable, whether you drive at full speed in the wrong direction and collide with more than three cars or manage to flip the car a couple of times with part of the back bumper being the only thing flapping. Curiously, the amount damage will reflect in repair costs. At this point, might as well buy a brand new car instead or repairing it since your virtual wallet should be rather thick.
When not spending time racing in circles with Jeff Gordon, tuning your favorite car or obtaining your International C License, you can leave GT Mode and pay Arcade Mode a visit. Single races, two player battles, time trials as well as drift events can be partaken. There’s also a Course Maker mode, which aside from remodelling existing locations and its online sharing capabilities, its pretty minimalistic compared to what ModNation Racers offered earlier this year. Finally, there’s Gran Turismo TV where you can enjoy free and premium motorsport programming whether its the BBC’s popular racing show Top Gear or original content from Polyphony Digital.
Polyphony Digital’s willingness to add everything and make Gran Turismo 5 the most complete automotive experience is both appreciated and very welcomed. However, I don’t see this game pleasing every single gamer out there. Matter of fact, I don’t see myself recommending it to every PS3 owner despite being the most accessible GT game in the franchise. Is it worth your money? Sure, as long as you know what you’re getting from it. No fanfares, no sense of speed, no fun…the best way to describe Gran Turismo 5’s gameplay is to compare it to driving a car while a driving instructor sits right beside you.
Don’t get me wrong, for those who have been playing GT games since the PS1, Gran Turismo 5 will make them shed tears of joy. It may even make them feel like marrying the Blu-Ray disk. The incredible amount of content packed in is certainly what makes this title a must-see and not because it revolutionizes the genre. Inconsistent visuals, lifeless environments, cluttered menus, frequent loading times, half-baked online realm, boring soundtrack...Gran Turismo 5 is the best example of banking on quantity rather than offering the much promised near-perfect quality, which is what many are expecting after six or so years of development. Once you’ve racked 150+ hours of gameplay, you will understand better why it took Kazunori Yamauchi that long.
+ Incredibly high replay value
+ The most accessible GT game ever
+ Solid visuals…
- Menus, menus, menus, menus, menus
- Online component blows
- Frequent loadings despite heavy install on HDD
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Fuel Overdose
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Darkstalkers Resurrection
1 month ago :: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
1 month ago :: (PSN) Alien Breed
6 months ago :: Assassin's Creed III
6 months ago :: FIFA Soccer 13
7 months ago :: Resident Evil 6
7 months ago :: NHL 13
8 months ago :: (PSN) The Expendables 2
Download us here!
Game Junkies podcast and audio interviews
Release Date : 2010/11/24
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer : Polyphony Digital
Category : Racing
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10