As ever with big, important titles I've decided to take more than one person's view on this. I've asked two seasoned Gran Turismo series vets and one newcomer to to add their thoughts to mine to provide a more rounded overview.
Basically this is a huge game in terms of what it offers. This SPOnG feature on the title – is also huge. Probably too big. Because we are fans of the series and we've been looking forward to it in the same way as you have. So, bear in mind that this article comes on the back of incredibly high expectations with limited play-time made available.
So, here's the précis. It means that you can avoid the other few thousand words that follow:
our TV outputs 1080i 60hertz, and GT5
looks good in Arcade. I've noticed some pop-up and tear in Series-A (Sim), Series-B (RPG), Specials (NASCAR, Top Gear, Karting and more). Online seemed fair enough. That is to say that tracks and backgrounds are flat and uninspiring, cars occasionally look shiny. Damage, boy you've got to try hard to damage these vehicles.
Thanks goodness that you have the option for your own soundtrack for BGM. Do this immediately. In terms of car sound. I had a real problem with judging speed to sound. In fact, I gave up and tried a few laps with the sound down. I know they've put a great deal of work into the engine noises, but without the benefit of a custom, surround-sound, equalised, expensive set up, I can't see where all the work went.
I own a 1999 Japanese import, 1.8, Mazda MX-5 Roadster Special Edition with six-gears, that appear to be squeezed into a five-gear transmission, and Bilstein Shocks in order to call it a Special Edition.
I've yet to get an any of the Miatas or Eunos's featured in this game to approximate to the sounds my car makes in real life. I'm not saying that Polyphony didn't put the work in, I'm not saying that my car isn't old and well-used. I am saying that the sound wasn't realistic based on my real experience.
Also, I drive inside the car. I don't expect the sound inside to be so similar to the sounds outside as to make no difference. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that everything was recorded beautifully, it's simply been reproduced and utilized poorly for the level of realism I was expecting.
Car handling: GT5
certainly makes you drive. Once again, the back-end of my little blue Mazda (Special Edition!) does not like to take tight bends at the wrong speed – most especially not in the wet – in those circumstances it likes a bit of a fishtail and then maybe to head off in its own direction.
It does not, at any point, decide that it wants to fishtail on the straight when I tap the brakes. I actually prefer to gear-down and decelerate as my dear old Mum, who actually drove at Le Mans in the 1950s and learned the art of defensive driving as PA to a certain Lord Mountbatten, taught me to do. I've yet to have my Eunos/Miata/MX-5 start fishtailing to the extent that the in-game vehicles have been known to.
In terms of the high-spec'd vehicles, I've not driven a Zonda but I'm fairly sure that Pagani spent some cash on the brakes. Basically, you spend the majority of your time fighting with vehicles rather than 'handling' them. At least this is my experience.
Why am I making such a big deal of the real-life versus game comparisons? Simple really. That's what all the build-up has been about: Realism. Accuracy. And, frankly, even having had to live through the mind-bending nannying tedium of the License phase of the game, which demands accuracy without actually teaching you very much at all about achieving it, I'd say that in my personal experience, 'realistic' is far closer to the mark than 'real'.
Don't get me wrong, if you truly enjoy fine detail over finesse, then this is the kind of car-handling that you'll certainly speak highly to your other non-driving friends about. It is accurate – I suppose, but seriously, how many of us know what driving 1,000 cars is like? It is obviously detailed.
But – and this is the core of the matter – because nobody except the truly facile or massively over-paid and professionally employed drives a car around a track, over a mountain, through a city specifically changed for racing, in the snow, in the dark, in the rain, without wanting to enjoy themselves - to have fun. I've not found myself thinking, “I really want to go back to GT5
after I've reviewed it".
The enjoyment is superseded by the physics and detail - none of which are immensely apparent.
I'll go into this in some detail later. However, in the same way as the greatest music album in the world can be ruined by over production, so can a great game be fatally flawed by poor interface design. I don't mean “How the front-end looks” I mean, “How the user interface works”. In terms of the former, it's busy. In terms of the latter, it's frustrating.
Quick example: when I press the PS3's standard 'back button' O, I expect to be taken back to the layer I was before I pressed X. Every time. Consistently.
I do not expect to be taken to another button that I have to confirm my choice with by pressing X... sometimes. I expect, with a game that has had so many resources pumped into it, to be able to race from option to option. Good user-interface design understands that the more options there are, the more efficient the user experience has to be. Whoever was in command of the GT5
user interface did not get this.
For a game that is now competing with Forza
head-on for serious rev-heads, there isn't enough. The options are spare: a new engine that you have to buy incrementally – you can't simply save up enough cash and buy the most expensive item. You have to spend your way through as if this was some tedious resource management title designed by the accountants of the dealership not the driver.
If I've earned 200,000 credits and I want to buy a new, top-end engine and turbo for my Monaro, then let me. Do not tell me that I'll have to buy the least expensive one first. If you want realism, my realism tells me that I'd find another garage.