Gran Turismo 5

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Gran Turismo 5 has been half a decade in the making. In those five years we've had some good news, some bad news and a delay just weeks before release. Every single piece of Gran Turismo 5 related information was scrutinized, right down to the trees that littered the sides of the track. Since its release, a lot has been said about Gran Turismo 5. Some people were rather disappointed with it, citing lack of proper damage or the 800 “standard” cars looking quite poor when compared to the premium cars, among other things. So when the opportunity to review the game came by, I grabbed it with both hands and raced home. What did I think of Gran Turismo 5? Read on to find out.

Before we begin, I must say that if you are expecting an experience similar to Burnout or Need for Speed, then you have bought the wrong game. But if you want to learn about how awesome and authentic Simulation is, then stick around.

Menu Screen is a treat to the eyes.

As soon as I put the disc in (with GT4’s Moon over the Castle in my head), I was treated to six and half minutes of pure awesomeness as the intro documented how a car is created from scratch. Just Like Gran Turismo 4, the intro starts out slow and then shifts into high gear with “Planetary” from My Chemical Romance blaring out of the speakers. After playing around with the main menu for a while (which by the way has a ton of options), I jumped straight into the Arcade Mode and chose a night time track called Special Stage Route 7 (SSR7) and selected the GT by Citroen. What followed as I finished the race was me trying to pick my jaw of the floor after what I had just witnessed. You race through a track which resembles Tokyo and as you zoom past the barriers and into the tunnels at 200 kmph, fireworks go off in the distance, which adds colour to the entire spectacle.

Impressed, I switched over to a Rally track (Toscana) and watched day turn into night as the last of the sun rays hit the dashboard, giving off this stunning twilight effect. It looks super impressive and is an absolute treat to the eyes. The only issue I had with the visuals was some screen tearing popping up every now then. Also, some tracks are less impressive than others, with flat textures and dull looking areas. This may aggravate some players, but it's not regular enough to be a problem.

Fastest race car ever....

As expected, the real stars of the show are the cars, especially the Premiums. The moment you see them in the selection menu, you know that Polyphony Digital have put a lot of effort into creating them. They are some of the best car models I have seen to date, with every line, angle and swoop identical to its real world counterparts.
Gameplay is the aspect where Gran Turismo shines and shows you why it’s the best in the business. If you are a new player, the game gives you time to understand the world of simulation. If you don’t know where to begin, and want to understand the ins and outs of the business, try the License mode. This is where the game teaches you every trick in the book, right from breaking in a straight line to tackling the dreaded Schumacher S turn without spinning out.

It’s the actual art of driving which forms the crux of Gran Turismo 5, the feeling that you and your car are one single being and that you are right on the edge of losing control. The game transforms itself if you have a wheel. Once connected, every dip, bump and turn is delivered to you with pin-point precision. Take a car, a fast one - preferably a Lamborghini or a Zonda around the Nürburgring and you will actually feel your car losing grip once you reach its limit. The game has the innate ability to tell you when the car's back end is gonna slip and allows you correct it by powering out.

The amount of racing options given to the player is so extensive, that it will take you weeks to even scratch the surface. You have the Top Gear Challenges, The AMG Driving School, NASCAR challenges and Rally School, each with their own set of challenges and medals to win. Winning an event, be it a Japanese Hatchback Championship or the one of the Licenses, gives you credits, which you can either spend on a new car or use after jumping into the GT Tuning area to buy upgrades for your car.

Pedal to the metal.

The new driving physics in Gran Turismo 5 are something to behold as each car has its own physics. Yes, this means every one of the 1000+ cars control and behave differently. A 70s muscle car will understeer and will have very vague steering, while a super car will have razor sharp cornering abilities, provided you manage to keep the massive power under control. The first time I took a Dodge Challenger out for a race in Rome, I crashed into the barrier at the first turn, because I didn’t brake early enough to provide me with enough turning area. Good thing I was on a low level then, as the damage was minimal.

This brings us to another new feature, damage. It is unlocked as you progress through the single player campaign and the higher your level, the greater the damage. I must commend PolyPhony for this because as you go higher, the damage can be quite severe and your car will lose doors, hoods, side skirts and a host of other parts. Repairing them is quite expensive too, so drive carefully. The Aston Martin DB9 that I raced against eleven other AI drivers ended up with me spending over 80,000 credits to fix it up. Imagine having that sort of hit to your wallet when you have just started off your career.

The AI in Gran Turismo 5 can be quite aggressive, especially when you are on the offensive and are trying to take the No.1 spot. They will trade paint if need be, just like any other driver and are not afraid to spin you out if the occasion calls for it.

The audio in Gran Turismo 5 is just superb. From the rumblings of a muscle car to the racket created by racing karts, everything is recreated faithfully by PolyPhony. One car in particular, the Mazda 787B really caught my fancy as it looked and sounded like something Kratos would drive to work. The deafening roar of the Wankel engine is a sight to behold and you can hear it in all its glory below(skip to 5:25).
Some people hate the jazz music in Gran Turismo games and GT5 is no different. The songs are chosen from a variety of different composers and have a calming effect which will be required when you come second in a race by a hundredth of a second. Overall, the audio in Gran Turismo is top notch and gamers with a home theater setup will love it.

Online is a riot, when the Fiat 500's are involved

Online Multiplayer is the usual affair with 16 racers racing around a chosen track. The game also includes a offline split screen mode for two player madness. Hosts can restrict races to certain cars or makes, so that you don’t have a cheat who races a Bugatti Veyron against the others in a Suzuki Cappuccino. The online mode is a blast, especially with a bunch of friends when the chosen mode of transport is Karts.

Besides multiplayer, you even have something called a B-Spec mode where you are in charge of a racing team. You can give instructions to your drivers as well take care of their cars and upgrade them as and when necessary. Some players may fight it boring and may choose to ignore it, while others will relish the chance of owning a racing team and leading them to victory.

Beautiful, isn't she??

Gran Turismo also has a Course Maker mode which lets you build tracks to your liking. While the option isn’t complex, it allows you to select a time of day and how many segments it will have. The game randomizes the track every single time. Finally, we move on to the Photo Mode, which allows you to take pictures of the cars in your garage at different locales. It does get quite addictive, and I have spent quite an unhealthy amount of time taking pictures after a race is over.

Gran Turismo 5 is an amazing achievement, whatever issues it has is washed away in a tsunami of absolute driving perfection. There are very few games out there that teach you something every step of the way and that is what Gran Turismo 5 has done. It taught me how to drive, and fulfilled my childhood dream of driving the cars I loved (well, virtually).

If you want to experience the best in driving simulation, Gran Turismo 5 is a must buy. Tt took me one race to figure that out, where all the problems just melted away and I entered driving nirvana. It was where the game just clicked for me, hope it does the same for you.

Published Date: Dec 04, 2010 04:00 pm | Updated Date: Dec 04, 2010 04:00 pm