No, I am not taking the rise. Seriously, if this is a serious car driving sim with realism and accuracy, I'll clean my car myself, for free.
I admit, I've not given this a vast amount of time. What it entails is you telling one of your stable of drivers how to get around a track. You do this via an icon that you click. This enables you to tell your driver – who you can't name but you can pick a name from a pre-selected list (I chose M. Bender for my first guy) – whether to slow down, accelerate, maintain his pace or over-take. You click, and a timer starts giving you an amount of time before you can click again in order to give another order. Beware though, because if you've made your driver aggressive but a bit mentally weak, his 'mental strength' might slack off by lap three and he'll hit a wall. Or if you've made your driver a calm type but not hugely physically strong, he may drop-off in a weakling's faint.
Bender did neither as I clicked him orders while thinking fondly of my time with really, really old football management games. He won his races, I stopped having any interest in him.
B-Series is obviously missing its demographic with me. Not Polyphony's fault, I think this is a brave effort, although they might like to look at what Pit Stop Boss
has been up to.
For the brief time we've had online actually online – and I mean brief – I've got to say that the by now statutory “For god's sake we must have a social network! PS Home was too general. We need something specific to genre-X gamers” thing is wearing thin. The community element is a mix of 'email' messaging – why? My friends can already message me via the XMB. Direct messaging? Again? Why? Shopping. Obviously. Microtransactions are where the money is, and online racing.
How does the racing work? It works well enough. Make a room, set some rules (length of race, cars allowed), choose or even 'build your own track' (do not think ModNation Racers
- think, well, a really, really simple track editor) invite some friends or wait for people to join. Race. It works nicely enough. We used our PlayStation Eye for audio. No idea where the face recognition comes in yet.
You can of course look to join other people's races. It has to be said that this worked nicely as well. Very nicely. Nice handling. Nice audio. No lag on day one at just gone midnight using our corporate bandwidth. Nice.
The In-Brief Conclusion
Quite simply, right now, having played the game since Saturday only to find that the saves are copy protected so cannot be transferred from debug PS3 to retail PS3... ever, and with online a recent experience, I would rather be playing Forza
for 'realism' or Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
for its Autlog community aspect, or the lamented Blur
If you, unlike me, don't have the luxury of having access to both Xbox 360 and PS3, and GT5
is your 'realsim' driving game of choice, then at least I can say that GT5
offers plenty of bang for your currency. By this I mean that there is lots of content. It's simply that none of it lives up to the hype. Lots and lots of “things” have been shoe-horned in at the expense of one, majorly important item: enjoyment.
Now - the Meat
For my part, I've GT'd
over the years. The last time a full-blown version of the Polyphony magnum opus was launched I was hanging around in Australia being blown away by the pre-release hype. The game shops and other vendors were festooned with Gran Turismo 4
point of sale, in fact there were moments when I expected to have someone jump out at me and force me into a GT4
t-shirt. This time around, it's been very different.
There is no getting away from the delay to Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital's latest GT
release. But Mr Yamauchi has – deservedly – garnered a great deal of respect for previous works in the series. We trust him to deliver.
Even when the turgid side-tracks of the truly uninspiring Gran Turismo HD Concept
aka GT5 Prologue
plopped onto our PS3s, we were all prepared to say: “That's just Sony that is, forcing the man-genius to put this out. He knows best. He's never let us down. He needs this time to perfect the gorgeous graphics and to record the in-car sounds of every car in every state of tuning on every road surface in all weather conditions. We'll wait some more.”
There's a deal of pressure for the man and his team there. Even back in October 2009 when he told Famitsu
that, “We could release it any time we want, really, but I want to have that classic GT-style 'did we really have to go this far?' feel going. I want to go way beyond gamer expectations”, we all thought, 'Yup, see. Perfection. That's what it's going to be.'
It was going to have karting, 3D. It was going to have damage. Damage! For those new to the series (I still refuse to use 'franchise' until Polyphony sells the rights to a film or a book or to Criterion), damage in a GT
was what I and everybody else I talked to was waiting for.
Forget the Top Gear
Test Track; forget Super GT, NASCAR and WRC – all of which have also been added. Forget the use of the PlayStation Eye for head-tracking... obviously don't because they're all in there. Damage, well, that was huge when it was announced. As in fact was the fact that you could flip your car.
Damage and car-flipping were additions to make the heart leap. What we'd have would be a game that was as great as older GT's
(you had to think about your driving) but with the added realism of mechanical and just visual damage with car-flipping. All in HD.