You should be able to find Gran Turismo 5 in your local store today. That makes today a good day. (It also doesn’t hurt that there’s Champions League today, too.) (Allow me to say the word “today” for the 500th time in four sentences.) Some reviews have popped up online, and I’m going to take 45 seconds to distill some of them for you. Not that it really matters: if you have a PS3 you’ll be getting this game. (Spoiler: it’s generally OK.)
I’ll try to balance it with one positive comment and one negative comment; you’re free to read the full reviews (something I’d encourage, actually).
Let’s start with old man IGN, the elder statesman of gaming news online. (Anyone else remember the days of N64.com?)
At times, Gran Turismo 5 is genuinely jaw-dropping – indeed, it can be the kind of game that makes you want to drop your controller and grab some random passer-by just to show them what marvels it’s capable of. Madrid and Rome’s street tracks are, like the returning London track introduced in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, uncanny recreations of their inspiration, and while Indianapolis and Daytona don’t have the same dazzle they’re told with a comparable authenticity.
Gran Turismo 5 is a 10/10 simulator wrapped up in a 5/10 game – driving is as exhilarating as anything that’s gone before, and slavish obsession with the minutiae of many of its cars ensure it’s an encyclopaedia of automotive delights. Its brilliance on the track, however is matched by its sloppiness off of it, and there’s a lack of polish that would at one time have seemed sacrilegious to the series. Ultimately its driving wins out to ensure that it’s still a great game, but it leaves that nagging doubt; this could have been a masterpiece were it not for the fact that Polyphony was so absorbed with the detail that it took its eye off the ball.
The new physics engine in GT5 is everything I had hoped it would be. While the buttons and sticks that you’re moving with your fingers haven’t changed, their feel and response have improved greatly. Turning and braking feel incredibly natural. You get a real sense of how slamming on the brakes throws the car’s weight forward. Handling actually feels like car handling, and not some once-removed, through-a-game-controller attempt. In one rally race, I remember braking too late on a snowy track. I slid into a snowbank, turned sharply, and then came back down off the bank. The car seemed to plop back down onto the the road so realistically that it gave me flashbacks of driving in winter. Somehow this game manages to feel both accurate and exciting at the same time.
The level of care taken by the people at Polyphony Digital shines in every aspect of this title, and this makes for a racing game that truly has no parallel. Gran Turismo 5 is a massive love letter to those that love cars. This is their dream videogame.
[Destructoid pretty much just praises the game, not finding room to mention the faults that IGN brings up. This is why you read multiple reviews, to get a feel for different people’s opinions. They are, after all, merely opinions.]
Lastly, let’s go a little European. Europe, after all, is the home of motorsport. Eurogamer, what say you?
For me, this is the Holy Grail of driving games. And yet it’s one throwaway and all-too-brief event tucked away in a corner of Kazunori Yamauchi’s sprawling empire of digital motorsport. I could quite easily have played GT5 for dozens of hours and written this review without even knowing it existed.
This, as you might imagine, causes a few problems, such as archaic online multiplayer, an unwieldy interface, terrible optimisation and obtuse structure. But it has its compensations too, not least the fact that Gran Turismo 5 is unlike anything else out there – including Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport, a series that was made in its image.
Half-formed multiplayer is easily the most damaging symptom of Gran Turismo 5’s long gestation in Kazunori Yamauchi’s parallel universe, and thankfully it’s one that can be fixed. Dreamed up five years ago and served up yesterday, it’s an off-kilter vision of the future, a cumbersome game with odd priorities, certainly. But it’s equally a game that heads off in unexpected and exciting directions, makes a few notable improvements, and overflows with love – for cars, for games technology and for its own mad pursuit. It’s good that Gran Turismo’s been away so long, because it’s all the better to have it back.
I’m always suspicious of reviews that find zero things wrong, or at least, annoying, being a cynical jerk, but it certainly seems, at the very worst, that the game is probably worth the $60 asking price. (Mangled sentence alert~!) Then again, I get the feeling that more than one of you will see the name “Gran Turismo” and automatically reach for your wallet.