Gran Turismo 5 (Game Review)

Gran Turismo 5 is a game that has been in development since before the release of the PlayStation 3. Can you believe that?  And after many years of waiting and numerous delays Gran Turismo 5 is finally out! But the ultimate question must be asked…Was it worth the long wait or is it already too little too late? Let’s take a look and find out!  On your mark…get set…GO!

This game features a huge collection of cars and real tracks from around the world. Just about every sporty vehicle that I can think of is accounted for. Even my Toyota MR2 MK1 is available in the game so I can race my very own car on famous tracks. Paint it silver and everything. In addition, there are many great exotic cars available to race like Ferraris and the great McLaren F1. Basically if you like cars you will find a car in this game you want to drive. To be able to use these cars is another story. This game is not designed for the casual gamer who plays one or two tracks on a weekend. If you want to play with some of the super exotics and unlock all the cars this game has to offer, expect to dedicate yourself to playing this game a few months.

GT5 is very much like a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG). Instead of collecting little monsters or weapons you are collecting cars. In a JRPG you can train and level up your abilities whereas in GT5 you upgrade and maintain your cars. Also like a JRPG to get the best equipment in the game requires grinding many hours, days, and months. The main differences between a JRPG and GT5 are the fact that there is no awful plot that you are forced to sit through, and there are no walls of text that need to be read. Progressing through this game is slow, as you will need to find a car for many of the events.  For example, for some events you will need to have a French car, a front engine rear wheel drive car, or a Toyota Yaris (worst race ever). They occasionally will give you cars for winning events, but in some cases  it is cheaper to buy a used car then upgrade the car they give you for another event. You will likely need to repeat a few events to get enough credits to buy stuff for your cars or afford new cars. Avoid buying many cars early, as the higher level events give you significantly more credits so you will not be stuck in a loop of having not enough cash to buy a car to play a specific high level event.

Grinding for credits is not the only way this game eats up your time, GT5 has some of the longest loadscreens and slowest navigation menus of any game I have played on the PlayStation 3. The initial install will take about 40 minutes and 8GB of your system’s hard drive. If you have the 40gb PlayStation3s or the early 20gb model defiantly look into buying a higher capacity 2.5 inch laptop drive. There are already two patches for the game out so you will need to wait, download and install them before you can even play the game. Loading races takes a while and loading back the main menu sometimes takes longer than loading the tracks.  One good area for loading times is when you have to restart an already loaded event, the reloading is fast enough for the wait when you restart the race to be relatively painless.

The racing in GT5 is acceptable but not exactly executed in the best manner. The cars drive and handle very much like you should expect from a racing simulator which is great. The tires and speed that you enter a turn can really make a different between making the turn and sliding into the nearest wall. Invest in a good set of tires and it will make a world of difference, however tires are not transferable to other cars even if realisticly they should be compatible sizes. Drifting is not as fun and  predictable as it is in arcade racers like Burnout and Need for Speed, in fact its a bit scary as you will lose control of the car. The game supports a wide array of 3rd party wheels and petals however I did not have one to really try it out.  If you have played other racing games on the PS3 you might find the default controls not to your liking. Luckily allows for configuration of your Sixaxis duelshock controller, a feature that is missing from many games these days. The racing is not perfect, the AI players skill does not adapt to your skill, it is based on your level and event. Early races will be very easy and not challenging in the slightest, so you will need to play a good amount of hours before they start to match your level of playing. This makes some of the first races rather boring to play through, which may make it hard to keep attached to the game. Someone who is new to the Gran Turismo series might rent this game for a weekend and find that it was not enjoyable because lots of the good cars and features are locked up and not apparent until you play the game a very long time. If you do stick with the game through some of the boring beginnings it starts to get better and unlock more stuff like Kart racing, NASCAR and GT5’s damage system ( a very odd thing to lock out until the higher levels).

Graphically, this game is hit or miss as the “premium” cars look exceptional and include detailed interiors while the “standard” cars lack the interiors and do not have models that are as detailed as the “premium” ones. From here the graphics go downhill, as the tracks have poor details like cardboard cutout trees and people. At times, the tracks feel like they are half complete or more fitting for an early PlayStation 2 game.  In fact, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit looks much better. The shadows are the biggest eyesore in this game, while the level “baked” shadows look good all the dynamic shadows look awful and very low resolution. I would like an option to turn them off as they really make the game look worse than adding to it. The digital Jeff Gordan looks laughably bad, like seriously looking at other games ability to render faces well this looks pathetic. Photo mode allows you to take pictures of the car from the replays which is a nice feature. While taking photos in this mode GT5 greatly improves the shadows and edges but still the some things still look awful. Also why does it need 500mb of free space to export the Photos to XMB? This message makes no sense and likely is incorrect.

When it comes to sound, GT5 is, once again, a bit disappointing. It has good car noises and usually sounds great on a good surround system. The exhaust you install on your vehicle will effect its sound, with standard mufflers being a quiet pur compared to adding a racing system to the car. Twice while playing the sound bugged out and looped a sound painfully loud. I first thought it was my sound system but when I realized that the sound error didn’t follow the game into the pause menu, it was obvious that it was an in game glitch. When it comes to collisions GT5 is rather lackluster, as the collisions sound like someone slammed plastic containers together. The music in this game is tacky, the menu music ranges from public domain songs to music I would expect to find in a bad porno movie from the eighties. Every time I get a new car the music reminds me of the song “Hip to be Square” and that one scene from American Psycho.

I mentioned earlier about the menus being slow but they are also awful to navigate. There just feels a tenancy to over engineer the menus and require you to go multiple multiple menus for relatively easy tasks. When it comes to car selection this game is stupid. When you try an event that you can only drive a  Toyota Yaris or a GoCart will it select your only car that can race that event? NO, you need to go through the garage menu, then find the car you want then “right-click” change car, then it will ask “are you sure?” damn right I’m sure I wouldn’t of gone through those other 3 menus if I wasn’t sure already!!! Then you back out and can start the event. That was more painful that it should have been. Also if you have the Go-Kart selected you can’t even press the buttons for the A-spec or B-spec events so you need to change your car before you can see what car you will need  for the event to meaning you at worst will need to do a car change twice. The game also likes to occasionally hang while loading the main menus after a race, it took so long that  was considering hard resetting the system thinking that it crashed.

The final thing I want to talk about is one of the game modes, B-spec racing. Normal A-spec racing is where you drive the cars so what is B-spec? In B-spec you play as the manager of a driver.  All you get to do is yell at yell at your driver while telling him how to drive his car. Sound boring already? Its worse, you have only four commands to issue them, “Pace-down”, “Maintain-Pace”, “Pace-Up”, and “Overtake”. Whats the difference between these commands? I’m not exactly sure, as the Driver seems to do the same thing, regardless of what command you issue. In fact, I found that I won as frequently when I didn’t issue any commands as when you actively issued commands to your driver. So, this is a good way to gain credits while not doing anything, as you can leave the game alone to play itself and come back in 30 minutes and press next. Sitting and watching them race is painful, as no matter what, the Driver likes to spin out and crash in a mid-engined car. He will also stop with no apparent reason and sit there.  I recommend not watching the game while you play B-spec as its frustrating to watch the Driver fail at driving your favorite car. Another thing is the length of the B-spec events is significantly longer than your A-spec events as 10 laps around the track can easily take over 30 minutes to complete so you can go to the bathroom, make dinner, eat it and then clean up. Just remember to press X every once and a while once the Driver is done racing to continue getting credits for doing nothing at all. I suspect at the higher levels this strategy will not work but up until B-spec level 10 it was working effectively.

Overall Gran Turismo 5 is a good racing game but not perfection you would expect from a game this long in development. The occasional bugs and load screens really can suck the fun out of the game. Some these problems might be able to be fixed in later patches.  Still, it does have a very impressive list of cars and tracks that make it worth a look. If you start this game and really get into it this will be a game that will last a long time in your collection. To really unlock all the things this game has to offer expect to play this game for a few months. So, it might be better to pick this up used in a few months when it is cheaper. Few more patches won’t hurt either.


8 Responses to “Gran Turismo 5 (Game Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Well in all honesty I expected to read through your review above and painstakingly point out everything that is missing in my opinion, but I’m saddened (on my own behalf) by the fact that you covered ALL my gripes about the game.

    The fact that I bought this game is in itself a miracle. I have not played a game since May 09 during some online Burnout Paradise matches. I always was a fan of GT on the PS1 and 2 platforms so I thought, oh what the hell…let’s give this a try! And that I did…

    I popped in this in Friday night and hated it. I think I was just pissed from having to wait a near hour just to play the game. That’s how long the darn install took me. Ridiculous! And to top it all off…I got your message at the same time I was considering rebooting my system. The load times are crazy when coming back to the main menu during certain points of the game.

    However, Saturday I sat back and fell in love with this game. Yes, Jeff Gordon is horrible looking, but the carts were fun as hell and it was cool to race on the Nascar track. And even better…I built my own Mustang GT. It’s an ’07, but not much different than my real ’06. I built that car up so much that at the level I am currently at, there’s nothing that can beat me in the long run (speed-wise that is). The rumble it makes puts a smile on my face every time 🙂

    I have still yet to get to the point where I experience any damage to the car, but like you said..it’s coming. Weird that it is later on in the game. And I have yet to go online yet, but I need to get my Dark Angel and Audi TTs Stage 3 Turbo out there!

    Overall, I wish I would have waited a little bit to pick this one up, but I could not resist having fun with this one. For $53.99 I thought it was a steal. But who cares? As long as I am having fun, right? That’s all that matters!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I’m not a fan of racing games.

  3. Brian White

    It turns out after talking to people this past week that there are not many racing game fans out there. Most only like the arcade style games. Have you ever played this one, Gerard? Much like the Aliens Blu-ray set, this GT gaming franchise is rich in history and is a MUST-buy for fans that grew up with these games since the early days of the original Playstation. Hey if it can bring me back from not having played a video game in over a year, then it can lure anyone in. I’m just saying…

  4. Gerard Iribe

    @Brian – I haven’t played 5, but I own that Steering Wheel contraption along with the part 4 Prologue. Don’t ask, it was given to me.

  5. Brian White

    How is that steering wheel? For some reason, I don’t think I would get along well with it and would prefer a controller.

  6. Scott T. Morrison

    Great review Daniel I thought your descriptions of the game were right on. Load times suck and the graphics could have been better. I love the cars to bad you have to work so hard and long to get them.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    @Brian – it’s pretty cool and it responds well.

  8. Brian White

    I really can’t believe they did nothing in terms of marketing this game. Even the Sunday ads had no mention of it for its Weds. debut. I guess the stores didn’t believe it was coming out either. LOL