Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) | Impressions

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Impressions
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Score: 9.5/10
Platform: PS3
Developer: Polyphony Digital

Gran Turismo 5 is one of the few games which needs no introduction. The game was hyped to an insane extent, and after a long wait of 6 years, it finally released on November 24, 2010. The fact that the game did release is not the most enjoyable part, it’s the thrill you get driving the world’s top-hyper-realistically looking cars at breathtaking speeds, all the while enjoying the beautiful vistas zooming past you.

In short: the game delivers. Delivers is an understatement, the game outdoes every other racing game in the market. With over 1000+ cars ( 1031 cars to be precise ) and over 20 courses, when it comes to play-value ( let alone “replay” value ) the game is a bang for the buck! The graphics are stunning and the games plays out ( for the most part ) at 60 fps, which ensures a smooth and pleasurable racing experience. The attention paid to the detailing on the cars is mind-blowing, with some Premium cars ( out of the 1031 cars, there are two categories of cars: Premium and Standard; more on that later ) touted to have been made of 200,000 polygons! When Kazunori Yamauchi said that Gran Turismo 5 would be using a totally new physics simulation engine, he wasn’t joking – car handling is utterly realistic. On the flip side, arcade racers will be disappointed as the game demands you to slow down at corners.

In GTMode ( the game’s career mode ) there are two modes: A-Spec and B-Spec. A-Spec is where you are the driver, getting behind the wheel. B-Spec is where you call the shots. In A-Spec, you start off at Level 0 and have to progress your way through the level order by completing championships and other races which will earn you Credits ( the currency system in the game ) and experience points. Certain races ( or for that matter, most races ) will have regulations, to which you will have to comply in order to finish them. For example, some races will ask you to use a car of Japanese make, 1969 or older. Initially, Mechanical Damage will be disabled, so that you can take your own sweet time to get to grips with the basic mechanics of the game. Slowly, as you progress Light Damage is enabled and finally at Level 40, full Mechanical Damage is enabled. When I say full Mechanical Damage, I’m talking about how performance is affected when you crash, and how the car parts deform realistically. As I mentioned above, the game has a lot of features which will be left undiscovered even after a few weeks with it.

One of the most fun modes in Gran Turismo 5 is “Photo Travel”. On an elemental level, what you do is pick a car and pick one of the listed locations and capture stunning shots of the vehicle. The results are out of this world; most shots blur the lines between what is real and what is game graphics. Here are a few:

The only gripe I have about the game is the menu structure which is in simple words frustrating to use. Even a simple back action is a combination of “Close” + ‘X’ button. Astonishingly, even the menu screens take a few seconds to load. This is totally absurd and makes no sense. Maybe it’s because of the admitted fault in the game’s working – that it heavily relies on you being connected to the Internet, even in offline modes. The load times for races are a reasonable 15-25 seconds – acknowledgeable considering the visuals that the game has to load. I dearly hope that Polyphony Digital fixes the menu system ( in terms of load times at least ) in the forthcoming torrent of updates and patches – because the poor user interface was the only reason the game lost half a point on the review scale.

Apart from the bizarre structure of the menu system, what puzzles me is the choice of BGM ( background music ). Except for a few upbeat songs which really get you into the mood, most songs would do great for a romantic movie rather than for a game like Gran Turismo 5. But fortunately, custom game soundtracks is a logical feature included in Gran Turismo 5.

Although the game is far from being tightly knit in terms of social competition ( a la Need For Speed Hot Pursuit ), it boasts a decent online community structure. You can post messages on your friend’s profiles, share photos you captured, and even send them Gifts. Neatly thought out huh? You can create and join rooms. Once the race settings have been finalised, ( and before the race starts ) racers can go on a free-roam-esque drive in the selected course in order to familiarize themselves with the track.

All said and done, hats off to Polyphony Digital’s dedication and consistency. Gran Turismo 5 is without a doubt, a must-have in case you own a PlayStation 3.

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