Gran Turismo has been around since the playstation one, and has been known for its amazing graphics, and great gameplay. It has been a defining title for Sony, and now, after many years, with many delays, Gran Turismo 5 has finally arrived. It brings a ridiculous amount of cars, and some great tracks for racing fans to love, but how is the game?
After playing this game for hours on end, I was left with contradicting feelings. On one hand the game felt unfinished and was a bit of a let down, but on the other hand I found it to be one of the best racing simulators out there. It was really frustrating feeling this way after waiting for so many years to play it.
There are so many things to look at in this game, but the best place to start at is the graphics. This game is absolutely beautiful most of the time. The premium cars are so detailed that, at times, they can look like the real thing. The interior looks extremely detailed, and you can see the stitches in the leather of the seats, and every little button on the dash. It is amazing. The standard cars on the other hand are a big let down. They are just upgraded versions of cars from older games, and you can tell. There are no interior views of these cars, and the paint jobs are jaggy, and unfinished. This is a big disappointment because many of the cars I wanted in the game did not even have cockpit views because they were standard cars. It was a big disappointment when I found this out, because most of the cars in the game are standard.
After getting past some of the disappointing aspects of the car models and get to the racing, then you will find that the tracks are beautiful. They are so close to the real thing that it is amazing. When driving around the track Laguna Seca, I noticed the smallest details outside of the track that can be found in real life. It astonished me how much detail they put into the game. The biggest problems that I found on the tracks were the trees. They pretty much looked like cardboard cutouts. It is not a big deal. I just found it kind of funny that they put so much detail into the game, but the trees look so fake.
The game also has great lighting effects. You really get to see how beautiful the game is when you race in a day to night race. When the sun starts to go down or come up, the game starts to show its true beauty. The sunset and rise leaves a nice dusk color on the track, and the slow appearing glow of the head lights as the track becomes darker just shows how great the game looks.
Now the graphics would be nothing without gameplay, and this is one of most enjoyable, realistic simulation racing experiences I have had with a game. I have been a big fan of simulation racers since I can remember, and this is the best experience I have ever had with a racing game. The cars have weight to them, and react to the track like a car would in real life. When you start to lose control and you try to save it and if you do not do the right thing, then you will sling shot into the wall.
There are also some great racing features in the game that help add to the realism. The drafting works great, especially in the NASCAR races, where you need to utilize it the most if you want to win. They also did a great job at the breaking and cornering with the cars. You cannot just drive into a corner at full speed and expect to make it through. You need to factor in the speed and weight of your car when breaking into the corner. You also need to factor in the sharpness, and banking of the turn because it plays a big part in making it through the corner.
Even though there are tons of cars in the game, each one of them has their own feel to it. While driving, they each have their own weight, and feel as you go around the track. You can never really know how the car will handle until you actually drive it. Even if the car is the same model but different years, it could drive totally different. It really shows how much time the developers took to create the cars, and it is really amazing.
I also found that I could not just create one setup for a car and apply it to other cars and have the same affect. I would have to take each car that I wanted to use, and work on it until I had the best setup for that car. This has granted me tons of hours just fixing up cars how I wanted to.
You are also able to upgrade your car. You can by new engines, tires and other things to improve your car. As you buy parts for your car they can open up new ways to customize the gearing, and suspension, along with other things. It brings a lot more variety to the game and cars. There are some cars that you cannot upgrade, such as racecars, and other high-end cars. You can also paint your cars, and change the rims on the premium cars, but not on the standard cars, which is disappointing. You also need to take care of your cars. You may need to make repairs or do oil changes so that your car stays in tip top shape.
The biggest disappoint in the game comes in the form of the damage. The first big let down was that only the premium cars had damage, while the standard cars do not. It seems as though the damage progresses as you play. This is a good and bad thing at the same time. It is good because as you start playing you may not be good at racing and you may wreck a lot. The only problem is that for a person like me, who has been playing simulation racers for a while, will want damage from the beginning. I think it is nice feature, but I would have liked to just be able to turn it on or off instead of having to wait to get to a certain level. Other than this, the damage modeling can sometimes look strange. The cars can sometimes look strangely deformed when they hit a wall. It sometimes looks unrealistic, but it is not a big deal.
The biggest gripe I have with the damage modeling is the fact there is no mechanical damage on the cars. There are no real consequences for running into another car or wall. It takes away from the simulation feel of the game. Overall though, the damage in the game is good.
This great gameplay also translates well into the multiplayer. It is fun getting online with friends and racing it out between each other. The only problem that I found was when racing against people I did not know. I would join random rooms and only race about one lap before I would quit because of the way they would race. They would just drive straight through the corner and knock you off the track so that they can get in the lead, and prevent you from catching them. I also had a problem with how the lobbies where set up. There are pretty much no restrictions that the room leader can create. You can choose any car at anytime, and this makes for an uneven race. These are the biggest problems I had with the online, but when I got to play with people I knew, it was fun because we could talk to each other and choose cars that were equal.
Not only is this a great looking game, and one of the best simulation games out there, it is also one of the best sounding games out there. Each car sounds amazing, and actually sounds like its real world counter part. The gear wine, the sound of the turbo and supercharger, and the tire squeal is mesmerizing. It feels like I am at a real race when I hear all of these things.
The game does have a strange soundtrack for the menus though. It kind of sounds like jazz music that you would hear while in an elevator, but strangely enough, it did not really bother me, but if you absolutely cannot stand it, then I am glad to be able to tell you that you can create your own custom soundtrack. It is a welcomed feature when you are tired of smooth jazz elevator music.
Overall, this game is one of the best racing games I have ever played. Yes the game may feel unfinished, and yes that is a disappointment because of all the years it took to make it, but I find myself loving it even more every time I play it. The cars look great, the races are varied and fun, and there is a lot of depth to the game. If you are a racing fan, then you will sink hours of play time into this game, and if you are not a fan of simulation racers, then do not expect this game to change your view on the genre. It is a great game that may have taken a little to long to make and some disappointing aspects in it, but it surely has not disappointed me as a whole.
Some Other Comments:
I know that this review is coming a few weeks after the game has come out, and there have been a few updates that have fixed a few problems with the game. I know that they have refined the multiplayer lobbies, and added mechanical damage, but I wanted to give a review of the original game before the updates. These updates have fixed a lot, and I am sure there will be more updates to come for this that will improve various aspects of this game.