It’s been many years in the making, and after several false starts, one of the most anticipated games of 2010 (which for a while looked like 2011), Gran Turismo 5 is finally here.
To ease the load times, the game offers the option of installing game data onto the Hard Disk Drive. It’ll take anywhere between 40 to 60 minutes (it took 47minutes for me), and use up 8GB of HDD space. It’s a pretty hefty install, but proved to be a wise investment as even after the install, the load times weren’t exactly quick, so I shudder to think how long the load screens would’ve been without it.
Cars are divided in two different classes: Premium and Standard, the main difference being the Premium car models are of a higher quality. Around 20% of the cars are classified as Premium, and one of the differences between the two is the inclusion of a cockpit view for Premium cars. The cockpit view is superb; the work gone into capturing the detail of the car’s interior truly is amazing and goes as far as having working windscreen wipers for races held in rainy or snowy conditions. Racing from this viewpoint certainly enhances the realism, and became my preferred viewpoint, which just made it disappointing that the option wasn’t available to Standard cars.
Another difference is that Standard cars are limited to minimal damage, usually consisting of scratches and minor dents, while the Premium cars have more extensive damage modelling. Overall, I was less then pleased with the damage modelling, as it wasn’t realistic at all. I found that even slamming into walls at high speeds had no adverse affect on the car’s performance and just resulted in a minor dent to the front bumper, and this was in a Premium car which had a greater damage model.
Visually, the car models in Gran Turismo 5 are superb, though, as mentioned above, the quality of the Premium cars is way above that of the Standard ones. In saying that
though, the same can’t be said of the graphics quality for the game’s tracks. It’s not that it was particularly bad or game-breaking, but it’s just not to the same photo-realism that so many of the game’s cars are.
While the car damage is unrealistic, Gran Turismo is still number one in terms of realistic driving simulators. An aspect of Gran Turismo 5 that’s done well is the realistic handling of the cars. The sense of weight is achieved well in the game, as you’ll be able to distinguish between driving a go-kart; which is light and zippy and being behind the wheel of a NASCAR, which is far heavier. Unfortunately, the overall racing experience is hampered by the AI drivers, which lack any personality and drive like robots. The AI tends not to deviate at all from the racing line; which results in them ramming you if you get in the way, and their cars always seem to be bunched together.
A feature that is a major disappointment has to be the Course Maker, as it doesn’t actually let you create your own track, only edit a collection of themed tracks. And even then you’re limited to options such as number of sections on the track.
The game offers two modes: GT and Arcade mode. It’s in Arcade mode that you’ll be able to take your chosen car out for a spin on the track of your choice, and boy does Gran Turismo have options. Here you’ll get to drive around many tracks from several different locations, which include snow and dirt tracks, actual cities such as Rome and Tokyo, real life tracks such as Daytona, Monza and the Top Gear test track.
It’s only in the Arcade mode that you’ll be able to transfer and drive up to 50 cars that you earned in the PSP version of Gran Turismo; which kinda sucked as all the cars unlocked on the PSP aren’t available to you in the GT mode. The Arcade mode is also where you can try out the new Head Tracking feature using the PlayStation Eye. It can be finicky to set up, and can only be used on Beginner level races. It definitely felt like more of a tacked-on novelty; offering very little in the way of anything special to the game.
GT mode is the career mode in Gran Turismo 5, and is where earn your licenses, buy cars from new and used dealers, sell cars and tune them up to drive them in races. A-Spec races allow the player to take on the role of the driver and race in different events, while B-Spec allows you to give directions to your created driver. Directions are limited to telling them to decrease, increase, maintain speed and ordering them to overtake. Apart from using AI to get around, it also affords you a chance to just sit back and watch the race.
To progress in GT mode, players must earn experience points, which are then used to level up. The higher your level, more options such as better cars, challenges and races become available. So for those who received the special cars via DLC will have to leave those cars in the garage till you achieve a high enough level to be able to drive them.
The License tests return, and along with the levelling up, licenses are required to unlock races. I found that it wasn’t difficult to achieve a pass rating, which is the Bronze trophy, but to unlock the Silver trophy I needed several attempts at the test, while a Gold trophy was achieved via near flawless driving. In the end, the goal was to earn the license and that could be done by just earning passing grades, so I didn’t really see the need to try and earn gold for all the tests, but that is something I can definitely see the more hardcore driving fans out there sinking their teeth into.
In Special Events, the game offers several different challenge scenarios, which include karting, NASCAR and WRC challenges. Many of these challenges are similar to the license tests, and can be frustrating, especially when trying to achieve the gold trophy rating. But unlike the license test, where just passing is good enough, the payoff for achieving gold is worth it as you earn large amounts of experience points and credits to expand your overall experience and progress into the game even more.
Gran Turismo 5 is fun and addictive. It still follows the same pattern of previous games, and while it features a fantastic and realistic driving experience, it still feels somewhat let down by a number of annoying features, most likely due to the game being pushed out this year when, despite all the time in development already, it clearly needed more time in testing and bug-fixing.