Gran Turismo 5
So whilst I’ve become a self confessed XBox fan since my last GT expereince, I’ve been waiting with anticipation for this release. With the sheer number of good solid racing games that gamers have seen it the last few years, I was confident that Polyphony Digital will have learnt a few lessons and incorporated a few new features to take the GT series from wanna be eye candy to a serious racer.
Sadly Polyphony Digital seem to live in their own secluded world where there are no other racing games to compete with.
Now I’m going to tell you how I became a XBox fan after being a Playstation fan. It came down to one thing, left and right triggers on the controllers. The first time I played a racing game where the acceleration and braking used the graduated ability of the triggers – much like way real accelerator and braking pedals work – I knew I would make the jump to XBox.
Of course, with the PS3, Sony made the subtle change to having small trigger style buttons, so my hopes for GT5 were elevated.
Of course, Polyphony Digital seem to live in their own secluded world where there are no other racing games to compete with and where you drive cars by using buttons.
But GT5 has made some advances, the cars are now damaged modeled, something that is standard in any serious racer these days. of course, realistic damage with have been better. The easiest thing to get ahead in GT5 is to race at top speed into the first corner and use the pack as your break. There is no noticeable damage penalties, even if your front bumper will eventually look like it might soon fall off. And don’t worry, your bumper won’t fall off. Trust me. I tried. I tried crashing head on into a barrier at 100km/h. I raced around the track the wrong way for countless laps having head on collisions at top speed, but still the bumper stayed in place, and still my car retained it’s performance.
Some things are of course the same, barriers are there to help you get round corners, not punish you for mistakes, and many tracks have short cuts that you can take with no penalties, though it is nice to be bale to get you wheels over the curb on slightly onto the grass on some corners to take a better racing line with out trying to cheat – though this all comes to naught when you hit a track with invisible walls on the inside of some corners.
And it’s this kind of inconstancy that kills the game.
It is however nice to see that Polyphony Digital have fixed the car to car collision issues, and you can now turn one of your opponents around if you so desire, creating a minor road block, but it is more likely that your opponents – who don’t seem to be that aware of your presence on the track – will do something incredibly stupid causing you to end up facing the wrong way.
Of course, the main attraction for any petrol head was not the inclusion of over 1,000 cars, but the inclusion of the Top Gear test track. This alone would have had me lined up to get a copy of GT5.
Sadly, Polyphony Digital seem to have made a decision to totally change the rules for this one track. Where by on every other track you can cut corners (at least the ones that are cuttable) without any penalties, but try having a race on the Top Gear test track and stray even a millimeter off the course and you’re disqualified. Add to this the fact that the first race you unlock is old school VW combi vans and the frustration level sky rockets and an unbelievable pace.
It’s almost like Polyphony Digital decided to suck the fun and passion out of racing.
The cars themselves drive like they are a child’s cheap – but very safe – electric car. Even when you turn off all the assists, the traction control and such and hop into a classic American Muscle car, with a souped up engine, you never feel like you are living on the edge. I remember hating American Muscle cars (in other racing games) because they had too much power and were a pig to handle, but then falling in love with them because one you mastered them (not that you ever really mastered them) it always felt like you were driving on the edge. A little too much power coming out of the corner and you’d find yourself spinning out of control. Leave the breaking to late and go in too hard and you’d start to wobble and fishtail to disaster. With GT5 you can floor the accelerator (I mean button) coming out of any corner and the most you’ll get (if you have traction control off) is some smoke coming from the tires.
But at least it looks really nice, right.
Well to be honest, it looks pretty average. The cars and most of the scenery are all nicely modeled, but then Polyphony Digital go and ruin the effect by having a nasty, jagged edged shadow under the car. I had heard that the weather effects – specifically the rain – were awesome, so I took one of my cars for a test drive, and a wet track with a full set of opponents. I turned on the cockpit view and pulled off the grid. I have seen better rain effects in the original Colin McRae Rally game. Sure they are nice, and the long distance visibility is awesome, but Codemasters already did the whole weather package better in F1.
Maybe, if GT5 had been launched in it’s present state, with the PS3 back in late 2006 it would have been an awesome game, with some drastic improvements over previous GT games. Polyphony Digital could have then gone on and tweaked it even more, fixing all the issues and creating a solid racing experience. We can only hope that in another 5 years, GT6 will come along and Polyphony Digital will have learnt what makes a good solid racing game.
Until then, the best I can say about GT5 is that it’s probably the best serious racer on the PS3.