It’s been about five days since Gran Turismo 5 became available worldwide and just like everybody else, we’ve sequestered ourselves in our rooms, put on our ‘Do not Disturb’ sign, and closed off our world entirely. Yep, no phone calls, no Internet, and certainly no regard for personal hygiene (Okay, we took a quick shower here and there, but nowhere close to our usual standards).
After five years of development and numerous release delays to boot, not to mention Sony’s continued insistence that the game is as close to real driving as any racing game in the history of civilization, the expectations surrounding Gran Turismo was about as high as the Miami Heat’s chances of winning the NBA Championship this year. Unlike Lebron & Co. though, GT5 hasn’t disappointed.
When it came to the graphics, Gran Turismo 5 is a definite cut above everything else we’ve seen. Every last swooping line and polish of the cars was visible in the game, the tracks were impeccably tailored to include even some unwarranted dirt around it, and the loose engagement of the cars while racing around the Nurburgring felt like you were sitting in the driver’s seat yourself.
Full review after the jump.
Graphics and Game Play
Not only did Polyphony Digital deliver on the gaming experience, but there’s something to be said for a game that took great lengths in building over 1,000 cars that all feel unique from each other. Sure, we haven’t driven all the cars in the game, but we’ve compiled enough models in our garage with different driving standards, all of which carry a distinct realism. The Ford Mustang GT’s burnouts are as loud and smoky as they are in real life, the Nissan GT-R’s launch control looks absolutely spot on, and the ’91 Honda Civic, well, let’s just say it feels and certainly drives like a ’91 Civic.
The realism also lends itself into the controls for the game, with the cars reacting instantaneously with every push of the button. (Sorry, we’ve been stuck with a Six-Axis controller because the Logitech Driving Force Racing Wheel we ordered hasn’t arrived yet). Braking on corners looks so seamless that if you do it right, you can shoot right up into a straight and tuck in at the back of the car in front of you for a perfect slipstream.
It certainly got to a point when we began thinking of our Gran Turismo credits as more valuable than real money, saving as much as we could and using them only for the best and most appropriate upgrades. After winning a few races and special events, we convinced ourselves to purchase our first premium vehicle. There’s something to be said about buying a video game sports car and spending a good two hours thinking about what to get. We would’ve finished our groceries, gone home, did the laundry, and walked the dog in that span of time. That’s how mesmerizingly real this game feels. As for our first premium vehicle, we scooped up a 2006 Aston Martin DBS Coupe for about 185,000.
Of course, every game, no matter how often it shatters the “Awesome Scale”, still has its quirks, and GT5 is no different. One thing that we did find a little odd about it – at least for the first few levels of GT Mode – is that, contrary to its mantra as a “real driving simulator”, car and track collisions didn’t result with the corresponding level of damage we would’ve thought. Bumping your car against all seven other cars before the first turn of the first lap and still ending up with a win sure doesn’t feel like a true scenario in a real race. Another thing we noticed was the lack of stalling in the cars, which we tried to do intentionally a couple of times for kicks to no avail. That’s something that we’re hoping gets updated real soon because car races without stalling cars at the start aren’t as fun as the pleasure you feel when you leave someone eating your dust.
We did find one other thing a little perplexing, although considering the volume of gamers playing the game at the same time, it was a little understandable. As soon as we started playing, we went straight to online mode to check out the competition only to be met with a notice from the developers that due to the volume of online players playing, the feature was being temporarily shut down to fix whatever lags that would occur in the game. Yeah, that was a ball buster on so many levels. After a few days, Sony sent out another notice that the problem had been ‘fixed,’ but as soon as we tried to log-on, the game started to lag again. As a result, we’ve yet to get a chance to play online.
For now, we’re giving Sony and Polyphony the benefit of doubt given that with the incredible interest in the game, something like this was bound to happen. And despite playing for what seemed like a total of three lifetimes, we’ve yet to fully dive ourselves into other features of the game apart from GT Mode.
The good thing is we’ve seen enough of the graphics and gameplay to draw up a pretty good conclusion about them. The game is without question one of the most realistic racing games we’ve played, but it is also complicated enough that it doesn’t dive down in the depths of dumb-ness.
For all the thrills and spills, real life racing is still a thinking game, albeit one that involves split-second decisions at just about every conceivable corner. Gran Turismo 5 feels the same way. You’re going to be mesmerized at first, but once you get used to the graphics and you’ve got the controls down pat, it becomes a real race and you better have your sacks screwed on tight if you ever want to get far in the game.