Since the Playstation 3 launch back in 2006, gamers have been waiting for Gran Turismo 4’s predecessor to surface. The game was first revealed at E3 2005. With the release on November 24th 2010, that makes it over five years since the game was first announced. So now the game is with us, but there is one question everybody wants answered, “Was Gran Turismo 5 worth the five year wait?”
Polyphony are definitely perfectionists when it comes to detail, and Gran Turismo 5 has lots of it. If you take any of the Premium cars featured in the game for a spin, then you are likely to be blown away. Driving these cars is just one of many ways you can enjoy your ownership of them, as you can drool wile you watch over your last race, take beautiful high quality pictures which can be saved to your hard drive, or spend some time and money tuning up your baby.
The premium cars are the cream of the crop in Gran Turismo 5, but the downside is that only 200 of the one thousand cars featured in the game are premium. The remaining 800 cars are all standard cars which must be purchased in the used car dealership. It’s all fine and dandy that Polyphony wanted to create two tiers of cars, but the problem lies in the fact that the standard cars look nowhere near as detailed as the premium ones. The premium car models are basically upscaled Playstation 2 models, which could leave many hardcore fans unsatisfied. It is certainly a sad sight to see one extraordinary looking premium car in a race with 11 standard looking cars. The issue may have been more forgivable perhaps if they made more premium cars than standard cars, but delivering only 20% of the cars in the highest quality is definitely very questionable when you think about the amount of time it took to develop this game.
Going back to the detail, it’s clear that Gran Turismo 5 was created to be the signature racing simulator. It’s not only the graphics that shine in this game, the actual driving mechanics are precise to the point you can tell the difference between the type of car you are driving, and the different tuning attachments that you can install. When playing a specific race for the first time, you might find it incredibly difficult to win, especially if you’ve just purchased a used car. But if you then spend some cash on tuning your car, you’ll be able to tell exactly where it pays off once you get back behind the wheel.
While the tuning options are great to have, it’s something that’s been a part of all Gran Turismo games, which means that it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. What could have really made this game even more superior to its competition is if there were more customizable options. Gran Turismo 5 falls flat when it comes to creating your own unique looking creations that you can boast about. Where other games give you the level of customization that allows you to express your creative side, Gran Turismo 5 leaves you stuck with paint jobs in which you must unlock the colors before you can even apply them to your vehicle. Not only that, but some of the standard cars will not even allow you to change the paint job or rim color. There are options to fit body kits and spoilers, but it’s still a tad bit disappointing that you can’t do more with your cars design wise, especially given the fact that the game looks so amazing.
No matter how you choose to play Gran Turismo 5, you will no doubt be completely immersed by the experience. Unfortunately I don’t have a 3DTV unlike two of my colleagues which I envy the hell out of, so I cannot speak on how it looks, but the fact that it’s an option is incredible. As for the different modes that you can enjoy; when you load up the game you are presented with three modes. GTTV is exactly what it says on the tin, an area where you can watch different videos, including clips from the popular Top Gear TV series. Arcade mode allows you to get behind the wheel and race without any fuss. You may even use the cars you have in your career mode garage. And finally of course is the actual career mode itself, which is the meat of the Gran Turismo 5 experience.
The main criticism to make note of here, is the amount of loading it takes to do even simple tasks. The career mode is described as having too many menus and too much loading between them. Even if you apply the whopping 8gb install which you are prompted to do upon loading up the game for the first time, then loading times can still take up to 30 seconds. Hopefully the optimization is something that can be worked on in future updates for the game, but for now being patient will allow you to endure these loading times.
Once you manage to get over that minor annoyance, you should begin to appreciate the full driver experience that the career mode provides for you. When you begin you create your driver profile, choose a look for your driver, and customize your dashboard. Once you have full control of the dashboard it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of options available to you. Even the minor options available are impressive, like being able to choose a music playlist from your XMB to play while you’re driving. You’ll no doubt start off by purchasing your first car, but if you wish to work on your driving skills first you can attempt to ace some driving tests. In previous Gran Turismo installments you were required to pass driving tests to unlock new racing opportunities, but this time the driving tests are only there to improve your driving as well as adding to your merits.
As for the actual racing, there are three different types of driving competitions over all. A-Spec races are split up with Beginner, Amateur, Professional and Extreme race challenges. Many of the challenges will require a certain type of car to compete in, ensuring you’ll try out a broad selection of different cars. B-Spec events allow you to hire computer AI drivers to compete for you, with the challenge being that you must hire a driver of the right skill level for the type of car you assign them. This mode is great as it allows you to appreciate the art of racing from another perspective, and watch a computer controlled driver make money for you. Lastly is the special event races, which will allow you to participate in kart races, nascar, WRC, and other special racing types. With all these options you can be confident that there will be hours of racing ahead of you.
Besides Gran Turismo 5 prologue, this is the first Gran Turismo to feature an online mode. The extent of the online facilities are amazing; allowing gamers to communicate with other Gran Turismo 5 gamers on their friends list by sharing pictures and other media. The actual online races are satisfying, as the net code is very stable while admitting up to 16 players in a race. You are also given a lot of control over the amount of laps you and your buddies will be racing; see if you and your mates can finish a 30 lap Le Mans race without a single person dropping out before the end. The only gripe is that the online menus could be a lot more user friendly to ensure the whole online experience is streamlined.
So was Gran Turismo 5 worth the wait? When you observe the amount of detail put into the driving itself, and appreciate that it’s not about how fast you can go, but more about how well you can control the vehicle you’re in. When you consider that this is a complete driving experience, but on your Playstation 3. Then maybe you’ll feel that personally Gran Turismo 5 was worth the wait. But if you’re the type who was waiting for perfection in the game itself, and not in the actual driving experience, then you may begin to question why after five years Polyphony didn’t allow you to add custom designs to your beautiful motor, or why only 200 of the 1000 cars are drool worthy, or why you must endure multiple loading times.
So at the end of the day it comes down to this. If you were looking for the ultimate driving simulation experience on the Playstation 3, then you’re damn right this was worth the wait. If you were waiting five years for a game with not one flaw, then the game will not be worth the wait to you; and in fact I might just have to question why you wanted a game with no flaws anyway. No matter how long the wait, no game can be perfect; but when you think of driving simulators alone, then Gran Turismo 5 came damn close to perfect.