Everyone has heard of Gran Turismo. It’s the one driving game that no matter if you like it or not, you have heard about it and how big it is. This is a game that reportedly took 5 years to make. I’ve been playing this game since its release a year ago and hear is my review.
Where do you begin, well ill start with probably the most important item in the game, the cars. There are loads of them, at the time of release the developers stated that there were over 1000 cars and you can believe them. One look at the dealership will show a vast array of car manufacturers and in most a nice healthy selection of shiny new cars to purchase. Now a plus for this game is that in some of the manufacturers there are upwards of 20 cars to choose from and a minus for the game is that in others there are as little as 1. This low number would be fine if it was for a limited tuning company or a special one off creation but an example of this is Alfa Romeo which only has the Brera on offer. Now at this point I will state that there is also the used car market which does sell other Alfa Romeos’ from time to time so there is more than one model in the game but I’m surprised that they only have one model in the showroom. Similar to this is another issue with the other car companies. It may not be an issue for some but for me I feel there are too many variants of the same car. The worst example I can think of is the Mazda MX5, there are loads, American versions, Euro versions, Japanese versions. They are all the same car just a different name and could have been mentioned in the notes that accompany every car. This would have cut down on the repetitive feel to the cars. Other examples of this are the Audi TT, the Nissan Fairlady/350Z, Nissan Skylines etc. I feel that these could have been slimmed down and other car companies could have been added. As I said though this is only my opinion and other people might love the different variations so it’s not a failure in the game at all, more of a choice in development and production.
The customisation for the cars is again something that will appeal to some and not as much to others. There are plenty of tuning options for all the cars and most will make a change to the car and its driving style that you will notice. A good example I had of this was when I bought a Ferrari 430. Standard this car is fast and tail happy when going round a long bend and the engine kicks in the power fast and you can spin out if you’re not careful. I raced it once then tuned it up, I spent a tonne and tuned it up fully with every possible upgrade and took it back out for another race, my god it felt so much livelier, everything felt enhanced, the speed, the acceleration and the danger of spinning out and doing unwanted donuts but my god it was fun. Doing the same thing to a Lamborghini Murcielago is even more pronounced and should be done with care as it becomes a monster to handle…. but isn’t that kind of the point!! I would of liked to of had some more options for cosmetic customisation, not too many cars have an option more than adding a spoiler to the rear which suits even less of them. That said this is more of a racing sim for the purists and not a ‘Need For Speed’ type of game where you can customise body kits etc but still, a little would have been nice. The range of cars available is amazing, hatchbacks, saloons, trucks, sports cars, super cars, hyper cars, karts, formula racers, a very good range that will have you playing and trying out different cars for months and months to come for no more reason than to try out each one and see how they feel.
The next part is the tracks. There are plenty of them as well. Tracks vary from small tight sharp cornered city tracks to full on race circuits and of course two of the most important tracks to any hardened car fan, the Top Gear track and the infamous Nurbergring. I can’t be 100% on this as I haven’t been to either or any of the other tracks in the game really but the look and feel as close as you could imagine to the real thing. The nurbergring has the bumps and dips and worryingly sketchy sections that you would expect and driving them make you feel as close as I can imagine it would to racing them for real. The cars react well to the tracks, braking oddly on different surfaces, suspension going light over bumps and bedding in when hitting dips, for a perfect example of this take a Ford F350 round the corkscrew at Leguna Seca and you will know exactly what I mean. They do play a little with the numbers of tracks they have as they do the old trick of counting the ‘reverse’ track etc but pretty much all racing games do that as well so you can’t blame them at all. Some of the tracks are easy to get round, some take a bit of thought and practice and some are just damningly hard to handle but you will want to have one last go to just get that win or just get that lap time in. It’s annoyingly addictive!
There’s not much to say about game styles really. There’s the arcade style where you can do exactly what it says as well as split screen racing with a friend which is fun and leads to lots of jostling and jockeying for position both on and off the screen. There is also a drift style which is fun for periods where you just want to have fun with a car and not worry about positions and lap times. Of course there is the GT style which is the main reason for playing. Even in this option you have more options. There is ‘A Spec’ which is you driving the cars and building up your experience and racing the tracks. There is also ‘B Spec’ which is a driver management version. You control a group of drivers and choose who drives which races and in which cars and once in the races you can encourage them to race faster, overtake, calm down and pit when you want. This is quite an interesting way of playing as you get to see the cars in action and take a slightly more back seat as well as seeing just how they handle in different parts of tracks. It’s also a good way of quickly building up money to buy that next dream car you have had your eyes on. The other part to this is the online. Here you get to race against random opponents or friends online, you can choose what cars, limit power or car types, choose tracks, amount of laps and even weather conditions which does make an effect on how the cars handle, choose wisely when racing in the wet as a powerful rear wheel drive 900hp Zonda F is not fun in the rain, well it is fun if you like sliding about and crashing into anything that dares get close.
Ok now its time for the graphics and the look of the game. Now for this section I’m taking into account that this game was 5 years in development so yes I expect a high standard. On the whole you do get a high standard, the cars look great although there is a clear difference between the standard cars and the premium models. Unless your looking closely you wont notice too much difference but this is Gran Turismo and you want to look closely at the detail of the cars and on a few of them I’m sorry to say I was a bit disappointed. The tracks look good, the detail to the tracks is nice, the Nurburgring has the graffiti on the track which looks nice and realistic but and for me this is a big but. The outside of the tracks is awful! I’m sorry but 5 years to develop the graphics and the best they can do for the trees and the people in the stadiums is to have what looks like cardboard cut outs! It’s not something you have to look hard for either, they kind of stick out like a sore thumb. The same issue arises with the weather.
The developers made a big deal of showing off still photos of their prize cars racing though heavy rain and these still photos looked amazing. In game terms though when racing through the rain its a different matter, the spray off the wheels in formula gt cars or the redbull 2010 car is terrible, it looks very blocky and pixelated, the same happens to the spray off rear spoilers on any car. For me quite a big let down, I’m no developer and I wouldn’t have a clue how to code rain spraying off a car but it looks bad, really bad.
There is one more feature id like to mention in this looong review but I think it is worth mentioning. The photography feature. Simply put, perfection. Someone spent a long time working on this feature and whoever it was needs an award or at least a pay rise. You get to place your car in a number of differing locations ranging from aircraft hangers to river side locations and race tracks. You can position the camera and fine tune it to get exactly the angle you want and then you can take the photo. Now I’m not talking some quick snap shot. This has a full on DSLR clone, you can change depth of field, exposure levels etc, you can really go to town catching the perfect photo. Still photos of cars parked up are all well and good but the real fun is when you take a car for a spin and then you go to the replay and find a nice piece, pause and then enter the photo mode. You can catch that perfect shot of your car drifting round the corner, tyre smoke tailing off the rear wheels, front wheels on full lock and the driver controlling it all. As I said, perfection. This little feature is a great addition and something I think they should have promoted more as it does a lot to add length of tome you will spend with this game. The photos you take can be saved to the Playstation’s XMB which in turn can be used as background wall papers or with the help of a USB stick can be used on you laptops, phones, added to social network sites etc, basically the photos can be used and look as good as actual physically taken photos.
Ok well time to wrap up this review. So far it might seem that I have been quite hard on some aspects of this game and to be fair I have been, I expect a lot from a game that spent so long in development and was put back time and again for touch ups and tweaks. The developers put a lot of pressure on themselves by marketing this title the way they did. The question is, did it pay off? Is the game any good? Yes it paid off, it’s a good game, a damn good game. The fact that this review is for a game a year old and I’m reviewing it as a new game is testament to their accomplishments. I’ve been playing this game for the past year and even with its short falls I’ve come back to it time and again and I can see myself doing the same thing for quite some time. If you are a racing fan then this is a no brainer. If you love cars then this is the game to get as there are so many cars to choose from that you will be trying new ones for months and months. This title has a lot going for it and many different ways of to enjoy it. The positives are very positive and the negatives are an issue but are not enough to become a game breaker.