I have never really been a huge fan of racing games. However, Ive always had a soft spot for the Gran Turismo series by Polyphony Digital. I guess thats because Gran Turismo is more of a racing simulator than a racing game. Gran Turismo 5 is the latest entry into the series and although it doesnt live up to the hype, its still a great game.
As a racing simulator, the way the vehicles handle is one of the more important aspects of gameplay. In that regard, Gran Turismo 5 is a vast improvement over the games in the series before it. The physics system employed here really gives each car a distinct feel. Even a teenager with a learners permit can easily tell a 1969 Mustang from a 2009 Corvette with their eyes closed. Well, if they could still drive with their eyes closed. With that in mind, this is definitely not a pick up and play type game. It will take many hours behind the wheel for a Gran Turismo novice to gain any kind of comfort level. Although, the inclusion of many driving assist options make the transition from arcade racer to simulation racer much easier. There is one thing in particular though that many players, myself included, wanted to see in Gran Turismo 5 that was inexplicably left out. Well, it wasnt really left out as much as it just wasnt fully implemented. Im talking of course about the allowance of all cars to be fully damaged from accidents. Yes, the cars do take damage, but it isnt very realistic. If you hit a concrete wall head on at 200 mph, it would be crushed. Not in Gran Turismo 5. Here it would look more like you ran into a shopping cart at 25 mph. This is one area where the game was over-hyped, as players were just expecting more from the damage system in a game that was in development for 7 years.
Car Selection/Models 8.5/10
There isnt a racing game in the galaxy with the car selection on display in Gran Turismo 5. Theres everything from an old VW van, all the way up to prototypes that only exist in some car designers mind. Theres even a DeLorean as seen in the Back To The Future Movie Franchise. How many racing games can boast that? All these cars look gorgeous on the track too, most of all the Premium models. There are two types of cars in this game, Standard and Premium. The Premium models are flawlessly detailed and feature 100% true-to-life cockpit views. Standard cars, while graphically acceptable for a PS3 game, really suffer from the cockpit view standpoint. Each standard car only has a basic shadowy interior with almost no detail. This is very disappointing since the cockpit view is my favorite view to drive from.
Dont get me wrong, there really is nothing wrong with the tracks in Gran Turismo 5. The low score is based more on lack of variety than anything else. Yes Polyphony Digital added day and night cycles and changing weather, but unfortunately this great feature isnt available on all the tracks. This really makes for a high level of redundancy when you consider the vast amount of cars at your disposal, and such a small variety of tracks to drive them on. There is a Course Maker, but it seems more like a last second tack-on than a full fledged feature.
Im not really in love with the soundtrack in this game, but that's easily remedied with the option to play tracks straight from the audio library stored on your PS3 console. Want to drag race while listening to Metallica? Go for it. How about a 100 lap race around Daytona Speedway while blasting Taylor Swift? If youve got the songs on your hard drive the opportunity is yours for the taking. Where the sound really shines though are the cars and their corresponding effects. Each car sounds exactly as it should and is easily identifiable by sound alone. Plus nothing beats the thrill of blowing away that rival car on a straightway while hearing my Camaro roar like the beast that it is.
Final Score 8.5/10
Gran Turismo 5 was over-hyped and it shows with the lack of vehicle damage, poor track selection, and a failure to have all cars rendered as Premium models. Even so, theres no way to deny its an outstanding game because the positives far outweigh the negatives. Gran Turismo 5 is proudly displayed in my gaming collection and is without a doubt my favorite racing game in a long time. Hope to see you in my rear-view mirror very soon. Happy Gaming!