Now before I get into to breaking it down per the pros & cons let me give you a little history. Gran Turismo is a racing franchise and GT 5 is just another segment of this exceptional franchise. The simple answer is that it’s just a racing game it contains no combat, power-ups, missions, zombies & definitely not the second coming of Christ.
Unbelievably, the hype before and after it’s release have garnered some of the most ridiculous examples of fanboyism, over exaggerated expectations and unfit comparisons you will find online about a videogame today. Gran Turismo 5 is yet another great segment for this solid 13 year old franchise launched into a console generation that has more elevated expectations than the public can conceive. The media has made us come to believe and expect perfection as the same level that will please us all and that is not the case. As an aficionado of racing games and Gran Turismo in particular I am pleased with GT5. This latest iteration of the game culminates the best and worst parts of the series with room for improvement in the next version.
Pros-Sight (Visuals) – I would be remiss to say GT5 wasn’t a beautiful game but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Did we expect this game to look like reality? How could we when reality is so complex in it’s simplicity and perfect imperfections. Visually the game is a far cry from our first major foray into what was known as true racing, which I’m quite sure we all remember with Namco’s Pole Position. The seated cabinet in the arcade with a steering wheel, gas & brake pedal simulating components of a real car. You were racing not just against time but other AI racers to the finish line in a real racing circuit.
What GT5 does on the graphics with the PS3 is astonishing for those of us whom are not bound by graphics alone. Believe it or not there is more going on under the hood with the visuals than you can initially see. It’s about the love of racing & the purity of driving and that experience being translated into well over 1000 vehicles. Now some will argue and/or disagree then want to compare it to Forza for the Xbox, well faithfully they are different like night & day. I say this with a slight arrogance as some people prefer the day others the night kind of like a preference for Chevy or Ford. The one caveat that most gamers miss when comparing Gran Turismo to Forza is the love of racing Kazunori & Polyphony Digital have always infused into the games since the first one released in 1997.
The visuals of this genre of game reaches farther beyond what the cars look like, but how they are capable of reacting with everything else visually that’s going on within the game. For example we judge how a sports game looks based on how close the characters look to their real counterparts, but also how they move, react and virtually play like them. Even with the best sports games out their in each sport (Madden, NBA 2K, MLB The Show, FIFA) it will take more than a PS3, PS4, Xbox 720 or Wii 6 to reach that level of realism to completely trick the mind in to believing it’s real. It’s a good thing I’m not just a graphics whore, better yet I’m a advocate of gameplay. By all means Atari 2600 was my first major home console and anyone that started from that time knows it was not about graphics, Combat was just a fun game to play.
Cons-Sight (Visuals) – Even as beautiful a game as GT5, it pales in comparison to the reputation it proceeds which is a part of the appeal of the series it created 13 years ago. Trust me when I tell you I was one of those gamers urging for damage since Gran Turismo 3. But not until the realization of playing GT5 for the first time after opening it did that all change. I realized I was trying to make GT5 into every other racing game out there and it’s not. I still would like to have seen a better implementation of damage in GT5 but not because I just want the ability to crash but to provide me some sort of consequence when racing against other opponents to make me a better driver.
Sight Score (Visuals) – 9.0
Pros-Sound (Audio) – I’m not going to get into all the detail of comparing the sounds of my cars to their counterparts in the game as to whether they are a spot on match. With the hundred or more cars I have driven since owning the game I will have to say the sound is good. Music throughout the menus and game itself are a complement to the series and Kazunori’s love of racing. You won’t find the ability to control the radio stations in your vehicles like in GTA or listen to your own library of music from your HDD. As doing so would be nice but it would take you away from the purity of this racing title.
Cons-Sound (Audio) – Anything I say hear would be just nitpicking and would take the series into a direction I may want but not necessarily good for the series.
Sound Score (Audio) – 9.5
Pros-Touch (Gameplay) – Just as the visuals, here is another area where the game excels the series with minor room for improvement. Read my words carefully here as I’m not looking for them to get misconstrued. Gran Turismo 5 is not for everybody even though it’s rated “E” for Everyone. To give a definition to my statement this is not the type of game you pick up if crashing into the other cars is your strategy to win. As I mentioned earlier, damage should be a consequence as a result of poor driving, misjudging the rules of being a good race car driver, or just making a mistake with your automobile causing an accident. The license mode in GT5 is about teaching you the correct driving techniques as a race car driver. We don’t drive our cars just to crash them unless you’re a derby car racer and an accident happens as a result of you or other drivers not driving correctly. So if you learn to play the game in it’s pure unadulterated fashion the gameplay experience is hands down second to none.
An analogy I thought would fit this best would be about boxers. A good boxer does not train how to get hit but how not to get hit or minimize the damage when he does get hit. Of course he does train how to hit his opponent but a true pugilist trains in how to defeat his opponent not make them crash or in this case hurt them intentionally. This is one of the pure differences in GT5 compared to other racing games. If you can accept the responsibility of racing pure, the feeling of accomplishment is unmatched by many games.
Cons-Touch (Gameplay) – It would have been nice to see the advent of a complete online mode and the different styles of racing provided in this version of Gran Turismo, a mode to race for the title of GT kind of like the Franchise or Season mode of other sports games. Another thing that makes GT5 different from arcade racers are the environments which are always the same. Nothing gets damaged or destroyed on them so if I am a race car driver about to experience for my 3rd consecutive year at Fuji Speedway what’s different? In real life things such as myself, crew, sponsors, etc make up how well I do or don’t do and whether I become the overall champion for that year. The game modes are still separated and the players main objective is to earn money to buy more vehicles allowing you to keep playing the same race over and over again earning the same trophy and prize money.
Touch Score (Gameplay) – 8.5
Pros-Taste (Replay Factor) – GT5 has the best replay of the series so far because there is so much to do. Whether you decide to stick to the traditional A Spec, give the team director side of driving a spin with B Spec, hookup with friends online, or dabble in the special events, GT5 packs plenty of horsepower. The course maker is a first for the series along with Gran Turismo TV which was lightly experienced in GT5 Prologue and makes the package well rounded for racing enthusiasts.
Cons-Taste (Replay Factor) – I touched on this in the gameplay section but not having Gran Turismo as an annual racing series with events done per calendar allowing you to earn points to the finals proclaiming a champion at the end is bit of let down. Creating a DNA feature for the AI drivers would have been nice to finally see as this is the one thing that has plagued the series since it began. As each driver follows the racing line to the “T” no mistakes are seen made by the AI good or bad except when we interact with them.
Taste Score (Replay Factor) – 9.5
Pros-Smell (Overall Value) If you enjoy a pure racing game then GT5 is definitely for you, if you call yourself a real gamer and own a PS3 then GT5 is worth it’s weight in gold. I am proud to have GT5 in my collection.
Cons-Smell (Overall Value) It would have been nice to see the Gran Turismo series create a season mode like in other sports games as I mentioned earlier. For now I’ll say it’s a little too early to tell how the online component will do overtime. I hope they continue to improve it and provide us all with a reason to spend more time online.
Smell Score (Overall) – 9.0