Gran Turismo 5 Review
|Publisher:||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release Date:||November 24th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
I had a Gran Turismo way back on the PS2, and its subtitle "the Real driving simulator" was well deserved. Back then, the game was a stand-out simulator, crammed with just about every car on earth, and overflowing with fun, from tweaking your rides to slamming your friends into a wall in multiplayer.
It's been six years since GT4, and after a long, long list of false-starts, delays and time-wasting, the venerable series has returned, in high-definition superovision! Or, not.
In fact, there isn't a lot to say about GT5 that hasn't already been said about its predecessors, and apart from slightly better graphics, new tracks and a wide selection of motors to tinker with, there's not a lot really 'new' here at all. Not to say that that's a bad thing.
The game will be instantly familiar to long-time fans of the series, and is also pretty simple for newcomers to grasp as well. Singleplayer-wise, the in-depth career mode makes a return, offering gamers the chance to take a three-year-old, C-class Honda Civic and turn it into a motor that would make even chavvy boy-racers blush.
The career mode is just as fulfilling as ever, and the gamer's rise from nobody to racing pro can take hours and hours of tweaking, scanning the second-hand market and ramming any and all comers into the barriers at Silverstone. This is a staple for the series of course, and the wide variety of options to tweak the game's 70+ cars makes the campaign infinitely playable.
The AI is reasonably intelligent, and more than capable of countering your driving style. It is, however, a fan of tailgating and slamming on the breaks, so you have to learn to watch out for its tricks pretty quick.
So, what holds back this great racing game? Unfortunately it's the archaic and difficult menu system.
Now, while I've always thought the menus in Gran Turismo were overly complicated, GT5 takes this to an extreme, hiding the garage tweaking, market-searching and races in a dense knot of menus, all of which feels like it would be more suited to a mouse and a keyboard than a PS3 controller.
Sadly, this annoyance is continued to the multiplayer, which suffers from one major issue above all others - no matchmaking. In an age where Burnout: Paradise lets you start a race by driving up to a junction, and Codemasters' DIRT is so immersive the game knows your name, this is simple stupidity.
This oversight forces you to scan through a long, long list of games to join, or start your own, and cheapens the whole experience. This is a pity, as aside from this glaring error the multiplayer contingent more than keeps up with its singleplayer brethren, offering a wide selection of races, chases and some brilliant set-piece events. These can include Formula 1 racing, and a wonderful little jaunt in a 1920s-era car with a astonishing pedigree - and throaty rumble of an engine.
Speaking of the cars, the range runs from a Mini to a Bugatti Veyron and back, and they all handle wonderfully (or awfully, in the case of the Veyron), with the right amount of punch and drift one would expect of a game claiming to be the 'real' driving simulator.
The same cannot be said of the graphics however, which vary depending on the type of car you're driving and where you're driving it.
While the game's newer tracks all appear very sharp, with some of the inner city races being particularly high-standard, some of the familiar tracks - like my favourite, Trial Mountain - appear to have been largely ported from the PS2, and it shows.
The textures are dodgy, the shadows are still terrible and the older tracks are so obviously of a poorer quality that it really shows up the cars which are, largely, well rendered.
The better cars, the Lambos and the TVRs, all look fantastic, inside and out, and heaving one of these monsters around the track is a great joy to behold - especially when combined with GT5's brilliant replay and camera modes.
As well as being able to take stunning pictures of your cars as they race around the track, oozing smoke, you can also upload them to the game's social network and share the images with your GT-owning friends.
The same cannot be said of some of the stock cars, however, which are often of a far lower visual quality than the better motors, and seem to suggest a slight lack of effort on the part of the developers - but, as there are 70+ cars to zip around in, who can blame them.
One odd factor is the almost total lack of damage detection. While the game has a robust package for recognising a particularly bad crash, you have to literally ram your motor into the barriers to even scratch the paintwork - good for saving money on repairs, bad on simple reality. This is the 'real' driving simulator, after all.
Sound-wise the familiar GT theme returns, along with a decent jukebox of tracks to keep your feet tapping as you screech round the corners. The cars all sound fantastic as well, and I would recommend manual transmission in most of them, both for the added control and for the sound of the gear changes, which are stunning.
Overall Gran Turismo 5 is a familiar game given a HD overhaul in some places, and left to stagnate in others. A clunky menu system and poor multiplayer networking hold the title back somewhat, but the driving is just as much fun as ever, and sure to keep even the most pedantic petrolhead amused for months.
- Huge range of cars
- Simple, addictive singleplayer career
- Cars handle like a dream
Not so good stuff
- Complicated and clunky menus
- No matchmaking
- Graphical inconsistency