Gran Turismo 5 Review

In December 2004, Sony released Gran Turismo 4 on the Playstation 2. In May 2005, Microsoft released Forza Motorsport on the Xbox. By the end of 2009, we’d played two Forza titles on the Xbox 360, and we still hadn’t seen another full, home console Gran Turismo game. GT5 was delayed again and again as Kazunori Yamauchi continued to beef up the game, and then, last week, the game actually, truly, hit stores. The question now, with Forza 3 being the success that it was, is this: Does the long-awaited Gran Turismo 5 maintain the franchise’s status as the gold standard for simulated racing or, now that the polls are closed, can we call Forza the champ? Hold that thought.


Gran Turismo 5 (PS3 [Reviewed])
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: November 24, 2010
MSRP: $59.99

Gran Turismo 5 is, without a doubt, as full of content as any game I can think of. It has 1,000 cars, including stock cars and karts and freaking buses, and the events are so varied that you’ll have to try out dozens of different vehicles. It has 70 tracks and a few different ways to race on each one. It has online and splitscreen racing. It allows the player to get under the hood of each car and tinker to his heart’s desire. B-Spec mode returns and lets you be the crew chief and oversee an AI driver. You can take your “premium cars” (these make up 200 of the 1,000 or so cars) and plant them in some picturesque location just fo the purpose of taking pictures.

After about 16 hours of racing, I owned 27 cars and had completed 20% of the events. I noted this, and then hunkered down and raced some more.

While the game is known as being only for the snobs, it is, in fact, very accessible. Racing lines that tell you when to brake are enabled by default, and you can tinker with other settings that can make the game a whole lot easier than you would expect. While I’m not exactly what anyone would call a stellar racer, bumping up the oversteer compensation and ABS settings had me winning races by 30 seconds in my suped up ’71 Mustang, so I imagine pretty much anybody could make this game work for them with the right combination of settings. I would have liked to see the game make use of the rewind feature we’ve seen in a few racers the last couple years, though, because it would probably encourage some of the more apprehensive players to have a go without the other aids enabled if they knew one bad corner didn’t mean the end of the race.

Structurally, GT5 is a Gran Turismo game through and through, which means it’s a grind. That isn’t an insult at all; the grind is a joy. The Gran Turismo experience wants you to enjoy all aspects of the journey, and this is why you’ll come out of a race in which you finished last place with a couple thousand credits and come out feeling much less frustrated than you would otherwise.

OK, so Polyphony spent five years making this bad boy, and it’s on the PS3 and the whole franchise has always been car porn, so how does this s**t look? Well, it looks…. mostly pretty. The premium cars look really good, and the new cockpit view on those vehicles is the bee’s knees, and the new rain and snow effects look great in conjunction with it. Oh, and they dent up a little bit, too. The other 800 cars look pretty good. The environment textures look good sometimes and whatever other times. The humans look downright frightening, and it’s really hard to concentrate when Jeff Gordon is trying to teach you about racing NASCAR when he’s got a fish mouth and extremely disturbing and extremely dead eyes.

You probably won’t notice many of the game’s visual faults, aside from the bland and low-res environments, while you’re doing the driving, but the problems become obvious when you’re watching a replay or playing B-Spec. I should note that very rarely does the game look outright poor, but racer fans won’t be able to help but notice the models don’t look as sharp as the cars in  Forza 3. On the other hand, that title only has about half as many cars all in, so I suppose there has to be a trade-off somewhere. On the third hand, though, Forza 3 had to fit everything on a DVD rather than a much larger Blu-ray disc.

So, yeah, the racing. The racing is exactly how you expect it to be, and by that I mean it plays like a Gran Turismo game. There is no learning curve for folks who are familiar with the franchise, and the learning curve for outsiders is no more daunting than it has been in the past; it’s probably a little easier, in fact. The physics are a little different (read: improved) now, as you would hope, but it’s otherwise the same. It is, truly, a Gran Turismo for this generation, which I would say is some of the highest praise I can give the game.

Those similarities are not always a good, however. The AI racers are still on rails, and you can do any given race repeatedly only to find the enemy drivers do exactly the same things every time, which, after a while, gets boring. Also, the sound effect you hear when two cars bump into each other still sounds more like a person punching a hollow piece of wood than metal clashing with metal, and it briefly took me out of the game whenever that happened, which was often because I’m a reckless asshole driver.

Back to the positive. NASCAR is really cool and exciting and intense, probably moreso than any other type of race. Kart racing, too, is crazy neat, although it’s also impossibly difficult at first. My first foray into karting, in fact, reminded me of my first go ’round with Gran Turismo on the Playstation so many years ago because I would spin out pretty much every time I hit the brakes. The effort is worth it, though.

Unfortunately, online racing as it exists today is somewhat of a trainwreck, which is a huge letdown particularly considering the problems with the AI. It’s not the races themselves that are a problem, although it was laggy as hell for the first day or so; the problem is a lack of matchmaking. In lieu of that amazing feature we apparently have been taking for granted is “open lobbies”; essentially, you just take your car and stumble into random rooms until you find one you like. It’s just weird and needlessly complicated and not really unlike Fable’s “join random game” feature except this is a racing game and that doesn’t work as well here. The PSN friends list is, however, integrated into the game, so it’s beyond easy to set up a game that way, but I have no friends so that doesn’t help me too much.

[joke about how complicated and occasionally confusing the game's menus are]

I suppose it’s time to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this review. Is Gran Turismo still the king? The answer: I don’t know. Even after Polyphony toiled over this thing for five years, it doesn’t feel like GT5 is a completed work. Even so, I have thoroughly, for the most part, enjoyed my time with Gran Turismo 5 thus far and greatly anticipate continuing to enjoy it down the metaphorical road, just because there’s two or three racing games worth of content on this BD. I think it’s difficult to say that GT5 delivers less than what we expect from it, but at the same time I can’t help but think it should deliver more than it did, especially now that it has legitimate direct competition, something the franchise had never faced.

Pros:

  • Handles like a GT game
  • Grinds like a GT game
  • NASCAR and kart racing are wildly awesome
  • Mindboggling amount of content
  • Accessible

Cons:

  • Old AI problems resurface
  • No online matchmaking
  • A little visually underwhelming

Final score: 85/100

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7 Comments on Gran Turismo 5 Review

joober

On December 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

All of forza 3 cars look good and have pit. 800 of the GT5 cars look like they came from previous games…

I was waiting for this game for years, it’s the only reason I got a PS3, sadly it is one of the biggest let downs I have had when it comes to gaming. Or maybe I’m just spoiled by the PC sims that rock anything that is on consoles.

drsgfire

On December 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm

amen… preach on brother

corpse

On December 4, 2010 at 4:16 am

joober, this is the only game that has 1000+ cars and I don’t see any other game out on the market right now that has 1000+ registered official vehicles from official car making companies do you? I don’t think so!! I don’t think I need to further validate my argument because that practically sells its self to me, plus I’ve been GT fan since GT2 and I played the S^#T out of that game. Don’t see any problems with graphics wise because you expect too much Phil, you were probably hoping it was going to play like Grid or Forza 3 like you have compared the title to. which because those other games don’t have 1000+ cars. Do I need to be more clear on that? sells its self again. 1000+ CARS!! ya sure PC sims are well done but does not have again!! 1000+ CARS!!(I think my opinion/fact is clear)
AGAIN 1000+ CARS!!
Old AI problems you have problems with cars that drive the racing line and wreck your ass when your not going as fast as they are because you don’t know how to tune your car up right? or you just decide to drive slower cars. That makes no sense to say bad AI because actual race car drivers are extremely accurate at taking the racing line, its almost like watching a marching band. And how much of this game have you played Phil I have played up to level 25 on A-spec and level 6 on B so far and I haven’t had this AI problem you speak of, only problem I had AI related was the GT Rally portion where my car goes in reverse and drives into the wall before the race starts but only happened to me 3-5 times out of the 100+ starts I had. oh I’m sorry it doesn’t have random AI and stupid ass camera blurs your so use to on some titles but I love the game and anyone that likes GT series should definitely pick up a copy. What is this matching you need? no point of needing it if your playing against the best players or players better than you, It pushes players to learn how to play the game better, take a look at counterstrike that game made me a better fps player due to the fact I was playing against very good players right off the bat. It forced me into learning new tactics against better players and learning how to gain advantages on maps I didn’t know how to play. I do see a little problem in no match making but Most racing games that I have played do not have one, so there fore this argument is not valid and not very good put down on the new GT title. at least it runs a good 35-60 frames the whole game as far as I have played which is a lot!! still back to my point 1000+ CARS!! and I can’t catch them all.

Phil Owen

On December 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

It’s not that they follow the racing line that’s the problem. It’s that the movements of your opposition will be exactly the same no matter how many times you try a particular race. It’s not something you’ll notice in most races, but it becomes extremely obvious in the races at you have to do to complete a license. Through trial and error, you can eventually figure out exactly how fast you need to go and where to put your car in order to win. It should be organic, but it is not.

corpse

On December 9, 2010 at 2:32 am

oh I get you now, okay…ya I see that a lot, your right but hey I’m fine with that cause I’ve played the game for years. True with the technology now they should have some type of reaction from the cars like that one racing game that had a pressure meter while racing(R-type Racing I think it was called) or something, makes sense that you want a different experience every time. But this is Gran Turismo your typing about here I don’t think AI change will make too much a difference in the game. The up and down on the AI, the game feels simple for beginners to get use to handling and overtaking. But I think the real fun is taking it online, sure there is no match making, but who wants to play a random racing online game now days? Plus I love the lounge feature so you can just have your buddies race with you I think that’s really neat!! I do get your point now Phil but you can cut the game little slack, it does seem the title was a little rushed to be put out this year, but hey they had to accurately model 1000+ cars and did interiors of 200 of them I think that’s pretty damn good. Only BIG problem I have with this title is that the first few endurance races are pretty lame your racing a bunch of stock vehicles against your super fast ones, kinda takes to fun out of it when you whoop on them for 30-90 laps on the track, but I hope it gets harder on the higher level ones. And again see your point, AI technology should be slightly better but sometimes you just have to go with the simple AI system, has its ups and downs but I get ya.

don sabiondo

On December 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

Es una cutrez de juego dientes de sierra sin ningun punto a favor en creatividad no se acerca a la realidad roza lo arcade es una mierda..el que diga lo contrario eske no sabe lo que es una gforce 580 gtx y un buen pc y una xbox 360 cn tus colegas echandote tus FIFAS en live viva microsoft sony es un cagaoo con patatas adios piltrafillas

ilyas

On January 18, 2011 at 8:01 am

thanks