When thinking back to my week with Gran Turismo 5, I can’t help but think of the classic rock song from Golden Earring titled Radar Love.
The song kicks off with the lyrics, “I’ve been driving all night my hands wet on the wheel” which then leads into the rest of the first verse, and its final line iconic line “And it’s a half past four and I’m shifting gear“.
As lifelong petrol-heads, songs like Radar Love sit comfortably in our music libraries, waiting for their chance to be freed on some lonely highway somewhere, when the lanes are empty and the right foot feels heavy. It is, for car lovers like us, that games like Gran Turismo first came into existence and truth be told, it’s still a mystery to me how it caught on with casual gamers as well.
The important thing however, is that Gran Turismo 5 is finally out and after spending an entire week with Gran Turismo 5, we are happy to finally bring you the long awaited and in-depth review of Gran Turismo 5.
[ I would like to credit IGN for some of their screenshots used in this review and are marked with their logo ]
Where do we even begin? Work on Gran Turismo 5 began around 5 years ago and has brought with it an entire generation of drama.
We have seen everything from delays and fan tears to leaked videos, faked videos, crazy opinion pieces, fanboy wars, rival smack-talk and even a whole lot more. One almost wonders what the internet is going to do now that the game is finally out.
Let’s take a quick look at the massive list of features that the latest Gran Turismo now boasts.
Gran Turismo 5 has over 1000 cars and 70 track variations and also features additional elements such as weather effects, day/night racing and damage. The game comes with a full career mode that includes racing, license tests, team management, upgrading, buying, selling, tuning, practicing and so on. Those familiar with the GT series will know exactly what to expect, and that’s most of you,
Aside from the usual career mode that we have known and loved since the PS1 days, there are also other things to keep you busy as well. Online multiplayer is as new feature that finally graces the GT series and brings with it not only the ability to join online lobbies and race with other people, but a community section as well. Cars can be gifted to friends, you can mail each other in the game and even post on your Twitter-like wall just to name a few things.
You can also view replays, take photos, jump straight into a race in Arcade Mode, do some split-screen with a buddy or even use a track generator to create you some unique tracks based on circuits, dirt, kart tracks etc. although it’s a little limited.
Another added feature in Gran Turismo 5 is the Gran Turismo TV option in the menu. Owners of GT5 are treated to some wonderful and free HD shows to watch such as the games lead developer Kazunori Yamauchi visiting the Goodwood Festival of Speed. There are more channels available and a ton of HD content that will also become available in future with most purchasable videos from shows such as Best Motoring setting you back some downloading and a R30.00 ZAR price tag.
Braking it down
So then, it all sounds really nice, but what’s good and what’s bad? Let’s start breaking it all down to see what’s what.
The Gran Turismo 4 map-like menu interface for the career mode is now gone and has been replaced with a more straightforward arrangement of images that double as buttons. In the words of Jeremy Clarkson describing the dashboard layout of one of the cars he reviewed on Top Gear, it feels like the designer had all of the menu elements in his face somewhere and then sneezed.
The menus are clunky, buttons are all different sizes and shapes and some elements just sit in awkward spaces on the screen. Some screens take far longer to load than they should and you are often stuck going back screen by screen by screen, when it is pretty evident that one should have been able to go back to the home screen at any given point.
The problem here is that it often feels like a complete chore to get anything done. If you are looking at an event, and realise you need to improve your car a little, you need to quit back a couple of menus, get to the tuning shop, load it up, buy what you want, head back to the home screen go back into A-Spec mode, then select the series, and then select the race again. At the very least, you can access your garage from the event menu and it automatically filters out cars that don’t fit the restrictions. Again though, hop into a race and the loading times can be pretty severe. Need to change anything? You need to hop all the way back out, navigate the menus and then load it all again.
Needless to say, I was missing the awesome adventurous looking map-styled menu already and some things really need to start keeping up with the times. For example, you still cannot access things like sound and graphics options while in an event, and have to quit all the way back to the main menu to access those settings as well as anything to do with button layouts or controller settings. It’s really archaic and something that should have been improved by now.
License and Registration Please
The career mode is a standard GT affair, begin by doing some licenses, buy a crappy little car and start racing in the Sunday Cup then work your way forwards from there. As you make more money you are able to improve your car with upgrades or even buy a new car that meets the requirements of another race that you want to enter. You can also play B-Spec mode, which allows you to create drivers and then manage them through their races and careers. Honestly, I don’t really know why anyone would do it instead of driving themselves.
Experience is now earned alongside the money and certain events will be locked until you are at a high enough level to take them on. We all know how this goes; get better and richer, buy cooler cars, do cooler races and so on. There is now also a special events section that has these… well… special events that allow you to learn how to drive a NASCAR (harder than it looks), go rally driving (as hard as it looks), but more on that below.
Last Updated: December 3, 2010