Gran Turismo 5
After a monumental wait for serious driving enthusiasts, Polyphony Digital’s fifth true instalment in the beloved Gran Turismo franchise has finally arrived. The series has always striven to live up to its moniker as the ‘real driving simulator,’ foregoing many of the more wacky arcade antics in favour of a more true-to-life experience, rewarding those patient enough to sit and spend weeks, even months learning to take full advantage of its many intricacies. The landscape has changed considerably over the half decade it took to produce the game and it’s certainly not for everybody, but fans shouldn’t be disappointed thanks to some solid gameplay mechanics and a beefy selection of extra modes.
If you’ve loved the series from the beginning and continue to do so, then you know what to expect from Gran Turismo 5. On the face of it, GT is a game about hopping behind the wheel of a digital replica of a real-world car, then following the racing line (though this can be turned off) for the optimal path whilst facing stiff opposition. Gamers who require instant gratification in the style of Burnout or Split/Second can happily ignore what’s on offer here; Gran Turismo is a game demanding patience and dedication, as well as a large amount of free time to be appreciated to its fullest. For better or worse, the game serves its purpose as the seminal driving simulator, which is the very reason stalwart fans might be willing to shell out on a PS3, plus a game chair and steering wheel peripheral.
As realism is key, it makes sense for Polyphony Digital to include a host of popular vehicles from a variety of big-name companies. The used car dealership serves as your starting point, offering hundreds of basic cars complete with tinted windows. After you’ve levelled yourself up and increased your wealth via the GT campaign, you’ll eventually be able to fork out for some of the high-end premium cars, all of which have been lovingly rendered from the ground up and look absolutely gorgeous. These models are the standout feature of the presentation, adding weight to the sense of realism that attracted its loyal fan-base to begin with, though damage physics have definitely taken a back seat in comparison to other racers.
Unfortunately, other aspects of the presentation have not fared as well, with pixelated shadows and minor screen tearing appearing on occasion. The music is forgettable and non-descript on the whole, erring on the side of jazz for the most part and only rarely throwing in some toe-tapping tunes. Seasoned GT fans won’t care one iota, of course, as for them it’s all about the roar of the engines and the screech of the tyres, and again this is where Polyphony’s efforts have paid off in full – everything car related sounds exactly as it ought to. Certain tracks can appear bland while others will amaze in the level of detail rendered (namely in the city locations), revealing just how much of a mixed bag the game can be. The central hub comes in the form of a computer desktop, which is interesting enough; just be aware that you’ll be flicking through a fair amount of menus and sitting through some irritating load times, even if you’ve chosen to apply the 8-Gigabyte install.
It’s in the A-Spec racing mode that you’ll be spending the majority of your time, charging up the ranks as you take part in a series of championships from Beginner all the way up to Expert and Extreme. Many events will be completely off-limits during your first few hours with the game, as you might be ordered to purchase a particular type of vehicle or told to reach a certain level before you can enter them. This main gameplay mode is challenging and exactly what you would expect from Gran Turismo, though the entry demands can irritate at times when all you want to do is hop behind the wheel of your car and get on with your racing duties. B-Spec mode tasks you with sending commands to an AI racer of your very own. It can be frustrating when you’ve told him to slow the pace only to spin out at the last bend, but this mode is easily the most forgettable of the lot and can be easily bypassed with little concern.
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