This is it. After five years of waiting and repeated increasingly disappointing delays, the fifth installment to the Gran Turismo franchise is here as GT5 finally gets its official global launch.
The one question that will no doubt be on the lips on gamers across the world as Gran Turismo 5 lands on shelves and ends a prolonged period of anticipation, ‘Is it worth the wait?’ Well, in short, yes it is, but only just.
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Building on the foundation laid by four phenomenally popular predecessors, Gran Turismo 5 gives what you expect from Kazunori Yamauchi and the Polyphony Digital team, expansive amounts of content, anal levels of detail and an unparalleled level of realism found in an all-encompassing racing simulator. With its constant postponements being repeatedly followed by new increasingly exciting revelations and renewed levels of hype and anticipation, however, the vast bubble of expectation surrounding the new GT title was one of such magnitude that any end result was always going to struggle to match up.
By no means is this an arcade style entertainment racer filled with thrills and spills, quirky over-the-top additions and purely smile-inducing features, Gran Turismo 5 is the most true to life racing title ever released, a trait that will no doubt attract many gaming fans but repel others.
Depth of Content
With 1,031 vehicles to chose from ranging from the furiously addictive and tetchy go-kart to the pinnacle of automotive design and technology the 2010 Ferrari Formula 1 machine via a bevy of standard saloons, rally steeds, NASCAR racers, supercars, hypercars and ultimate performance vehicles, the overwhelmingly vast selection of GT5 is enough to leave gamers baffled by choice and salivating at the immense possibilities and seemingly endless options.
Although this fanciful feast of automobiles is further boosted by more than 70 tracks that include street circuits, famous racing landmarks, rally stages and the Top Gear Test Track, navigating between all the selection menus, options and user controlled configurations can be a time consuming drag as can the loading screens, all of which is given a further irritating edge thanks to the perpetual elevator music.
With the game’s numerous delays reportedly caused by Polyphony’s attention to detail you would expect an in-game level of realism unparallel by other titles and fortunately, this is what you receive.
Although the graphical quality of the game, something that has been hotly tipped as the title’s killer blow, is initially underwhelming compared to expectations, its unwavering high-end quality quickly attunes itself in gamers’ eyes as the most immersive title ever released. At times, the true to life graphical surroundings truly stagger and steal focus away from the gameplay, at others, however, such as when crashing, the lack of damage realism almost ruins the obsessively fine work and true to life driving renditions created in GT5.
The levels of in-game realism are further boosted by each individual vehicle’s handling prowess, something that mimics the real life equivalents to stunning degrees of accuracy. Moving from the point-and-squirt driving style of the go-kart to the under steering rally offerings and pig to drive NASCAR racers is a taxing requirement on gamers but one that thanks to the game’s massively addictive nature is one that is welcomed with open arms. The superb handling physics are further bolstered by the game’s impressive weather and surface details that each require a careful and unique approach to ensure fast, consistent times.
With a wide selection of vehicles available for abuse on a vast number of tracks in arcade mode from the first play, gamers are thrown straight in to the deep end with Gran Turismo 5. The career mode, whilst taking a mind-numbing age to set up quickly becomes the game’s most compellingly addictive attribute as gamers are offered a host of gaming options, vehicle shops, tuning garages and skills tests.
Acquiring racing licences is a not only a fun and challenging way to learn the handling requirements and controls of the game but helps to quickly unlock a number of special events that give users their first insights into the vast array of vehicle and race types included in the game.
B-class races are possibly the most unusual and downright confusing addition to the game, however. The need to sit over a drivers shoulder issuing instructions to speed, up, slow down and overtake is reminiscent of being taught how to drive by your nervous mother as she sits panicked as her child gets behind the wheel and ventures out on to the road for the first time. Whilst watching real-time stats and race telemetry might appeal to the most hardcore of car fans, its availability in the game begs the question are some gamers so low on self esteem and ambition that they don’t deem themselves worthy of taking the wheel themselves?
At risk of drifting slightly under the heavily loaded radar, GT5’s 3D capabilities are a confused mixture of awe-inspiring realism and drab, under-achieving nothingness. Whilst coming close to the rear of a competitor’s vehicle in 3D is as nerve wrenching as real-life driving as its pops from the screen, tracks and surroundings are often unaffected or hindered by the additional dimension as their 2D sharpness is lost. Although a headline grabbing addition, 3D isn’t quite the future of gaming just yet and this is made clear by Gran Turismo’s sporadic adoption of the technology.
With the online patch for Gran Turismo 5, a 133MB download required by all purchasing GT5 with the hope of competing online, being launched just hours before the game’s official release, we have not been given sufficient time to test the title’s online capabilities and intricacies to such a standard to be included.
Capable of competing on online multiplayer races with up to 15 other drives, however, reset assured that come tomorrow morning and another night locked in online battles, a full online verdict will be here.
Gran Turismo 5 conclusion
Despite its numerous slip ups and pitfalls, Gran Turismo 5 is one of the most comprehensively impressive and powerful games ever released. The possibility to play this title for weeks on end and not come close to attempting, let alone tiring, of the almost infinite number of vehicle, tracks, conditions and racing methods is a hugely impressive achievement. The longevity of this game and its insatiable ability to keep gamers coming back time and time again to top a best lap or strive for the next level of achievement is a trait reserved for the highest echelon of releases.
The repeated delays, cancellations and postponements enforced on Gran Turismo 5 in the recent months and years have come so close to being the games downfall. The hype and expectation pitch on a title that has constantly disappointed expectant gamers prior to launch have given it a lot to live up to and whilst it doesn’t reach all expectations, GT5 is undoubtedly the best Gran Turismo to date and the most accomplished and complete racing title to ever hit the market.
Posted by Luke Johnson