Reviews// Gran Turismo 5

Posted 10 Dec 2010 17:38 by
After all this time waiting I finally got to play Gran Turismo 5 at home. From what I?d read during its protracted five-year development period, Gran Turismo 5 would be just like its predecessors; a magnum opus of cars, licences, cups and car tuning.

I would be treated to a veritable orgy of vehicles modelled and researched to an almost anal level of detail to deliver ?the real driving simulator.? Bearing in mind this is something that I?d been promised since getting to grips with the first game back in 1997. Fifth time lucky, maybe?

And so it begins
My trusty old PlayStation 3 is a real old timer, plucked from the first batch of consoles to arrive in the UK back in March 2007. Inside is the original 40Gb hard disk it shipped with. I was pretty confident that it would be the slowest install time in the world. I was already aware (via the Internet) that I should completely ignore the on-screen estimates telling me how much longer the installing was going to take.

Instead I went about cleaning our living room. The concept of doing something else whilst Gran Turismo 5 was busy installing/accessing/contemplating life was to become a frequent occurrence. Anyway, the scores on the doors were ? total time to install: 73 minutes, excluding the time to download and install the latest patch (v1.02 in this case). That?s just a little bit more than the 50 minutes the game had originally estimated! With the living room surgically clean, it was time to play the game.

Navigation from the dark ages
The first 30-45 minutes of Gran Turismo 5 are a horrible experience. So horrible, that I was actually afraid at one point to click on a menu item in case the game wanted to spend an eternity installing some more files. I?d had enough of waiting for the game. Let me drive a single damn car!

That?s all I want to do, so why have Polyphony Digital obfuscated the entire purpose of the game behind a prehistoric interface? I shudder to think how bad things would have been had I not waited 73 minutes for the game to ?install? beforehand.

I appreciate that Polyphony Digital have crammed a huge amount of stuff into the game but this has been at the expense of the user experience. I don?t mind waiting for something to load once, but Gran Turismo 5?s menus are so detailed that loading occurs all the time. You spend an inordinate amount of time staring at progress bars. Every menu comes with one. There is no such thing as a quick race in Gran Turismo 5.

The user interface reflects Polyphony Digital?s approach to driving and cars in general. Take one of the licence tests for example. The menus are now ordered in such a way to promote you to play, review, replay and further review your performance until perfection has been achieved.

To move to the next licence test you have to click right seven times and then press X. This is terrible user interface feng shui. The menus do not flow as they should. Given how huge Gran Turismo 5 is, and the amount of time that you need to invest in the game to get the most out of it, I?m amazed that little was done to make the menus more user friendly and a damned sight quicker. No wonder it took them five years to finish the game as most of it was spent navigating the menus. I?m surprised there isn?t a ??time wasted in menus? statistic.

Gran Turismo 5?s director and creator - Kazunori Yamauchi - has previously gone on record saying that Gran Turismo 5 is restricted by the PlayStation 3 hardware. I have to say I completely agree with him. His vision for Gran Turismo is still beyond the current capability of the PlayStation 3 hardware.

It reminds me of when Rare released Perfect Dark in 2000. Their follow-up to the awesome GoldenEye was a game far too ambitious for the poor little Nintendo 64 to cope with. Visual detail was prioritised over frame-rate, making the game unplayable at the higher difficulty levels. Only now, in 2010, can we enjoy Perfect Dark with a decent frame-rate on Xbox Live Arcade. Perhaps, the same will be true of Gran Turismo 5 in 10 years time. A re-review in 2020 then?

Tests, tests and more tests
As with all Gran Turismo games you start with a teeny, tiny amount of money with which to buy a car. This buys something that is slow, unresponsive and generally rubbish, just like the menu system. So, I splashed all my cash on the most expensive, non-rubbish car I could find and proceeded to blitz the easiest races in the A-spec challenges.

To start off with I won many races through the tried and tested Gran Turismo driving technique ? point your car at the apex of a corner, break later than everyone else and crash into them to help you stop. This tactic works in every Gran Turismo game.

What really makes this method of driving so effective is the stupendously dumb opponent AI. They all follow a set path through each corner, nicely bunching up, allowing you to dive down the inside. They do, however, have a bloody annoying vindictive streak that results in them constantly barging into your car, after you?ve overtaken them.

This stops you from accelerating away, and puts you at risk of being left for dead by the other competitors. As I progressed through amateur and professional events this behaviour didn?t change. It just repeated itself at higher speeds with nicer cars.

Licence to...
After a few races I focused on completing the licence tests because driving around in a Toyota Yaris is not my idea of fun. These tests are something of a surprise to people who haven?t played Gran Turismo before.
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Parapraxis 11 Dec 2010 02:22
"stupendously dumb opponent AI."
Bukkow 11 Dec 2010 02:25
I feel that the game is Japanese through and through, and unfortunately, to the majority this isn't acceptable.

Call them naive, call them plain stupid for not allowing a forward only setting on online races, or maybe they genuinely don't expect anyone to be ludicrous enough to do it. It's a sad world when games design has to be as much about preventing idiots spoiling the experience as it is making a game for the love of it.

The Americanisation, and 'progression', is in actuality stagnation of the industry, with too much emphasis on convention, fear of change, and lack of tolerance for anything that doesn't fit into the narrow bands of conformity. CoD's entirely repeatable sales are testament to this.
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traind 11 Dec 2010 03:39
Nice review. I agree with most of your comments but I also fit into the group that is still enjoying the game--despite the numerous design failures. By the way, if you are at the cornering limit and apply brakes it shifts the weight forward, thus you lose traction at the rear. This has happened to me at the track. Either brake in a straight line or trail brake carefully...
In regards to pressing right 7 times then X... 11 Dec 2010 04:29
In regards to pressing right 7 times then X...

You can press O once then right once ( i think it is once) then X.

Stopped reading the review at that point.
stupendously dumb AI?? 11 Dec 2010 10:21
are u serious??
if u havent realised, ur not supposed to barge into cars by their sides and use them to turn faster. in real life , that breaks cars, and that equates into u spending money!!! and if u try going from the inside and not touch any of the cars, ur not gonna make the turn fast . seriously get a decent car, do a few trackdays, then try writing an article about a car simulator
gt 5 lover 11 Dec 2010 14:42
1000+ cars 70 tracks and only just over 120 races complete fail.... what was kaz thinking
LOL 11 Dec 2010 19:42
...I laugh at you and this pathetic review. :)
period 12 Dec 2010 22:02
@stupendously dumb AI?? I tihnk you're mising the point of that the reviewer makes.since the first GT there was this fatal flaw in its design - that you *can* use cars or barriers as a crutch to taking corners fast. yeah you can't do that in real life, but in GT you can and makes it super easy to cheat. for antying that claims to be a simulator, this = fail.
Nayhem 13 Dec 2010 02:25
Extremely disappointed in this game. How is it possible that the GT5 prologue that came out like 5 years ago with the ps3 actually has BETTER graphics than this overblown disaster. First FFXIV( Worst. Game. Ever.) and now this. Whats going on with the Japanese all of a sudden? I will say the new wheel is sweet. They finally got the message that we don't all drive in front of a desk and the new pedals are great and don't require carpeting. That being said I'm going back to Forza.
Tim Smith 13 Dec 2010 08:53
period wrote:
@stupendously dumb AI?? I tihnk you're mising the point of that the reviewer makes.since the first GT there was this fatal flaw in its design - that you *can* use cars or barriers....

Bingo! Thanks for understanding that point, reading the review and making your point so succinctly.


PreciousRoi 19 Dec 2010 10:49
Wow. Just, wow.

Beyond the "you'd think as much time and effort was spent on this monstrosity they'd have got it close to perfect" factor, I am shocked that there is not provision to prevent people from going the wrong way around and smashing into other racers...surely they had to have known this would be an issue, or they should have done. Treating your opposing drivers' cars as mobile guardrails might be traditional, but eventually you'd think the "Ultimate Driving Simulator" would evolve beyond it.

And two tiers of cars?!? The game looks fabulous, but some of the car models suck, more or less intentionally?!? I played GT3 A-spec on a borrowed PS2 what, 9 years ago, beat it, and never looked back...I feel better about that decision all the time. I'm hoping the next Forza will be released embarrassingly (for PolyD) soon, and will be even more embarrassingly superior. I gotta admit I was kinda scurred that GT5 would justify the manhour investment, and deliver a gaming experience I'd feel compelled to revert to the PS controller (and find someone with a PS3 to borrow) to experience, or feel left out in the cold. As it is, I don't even feel a chill...
PreciousRoi 19 Dec 2010 11:19

Words fail me. Whoops, must have been gas...

I'm not sure your defense of the game has anything to do with the game at all. Just your personal soapbox rant against what you term Americanization. (I went ahead and Americanized the spelling for you) Though I'm not sure how you can hold GT5 up as a purely Japanese game (your words "Japanese through and through") when it features such purely American elements as muscle cars and NASCAR.

Not putting in some way to prevent malefactors from spoiling other's online experience isn't Japanese, its just stupid. If Kazu-kun is so convinced his own excrement isn't olfactorily unpleasant that he (or one of his many minions) hasn't even done basic research on other online racing games and the expected online behavior of the players of such, then he is not a paragon of Nipponese virtue, he's a arrogant ass who allowed his own hubris to negatively affect his own product.

GT bloody well DEFINED the genre, its just a few generations late in online (and has apparently failed to use others' experiences to improve their own product) and coming up short on the interface and quality side in general. It isn't falling victim to "Americanization", its just comparing unfavorably to people's expectations and competing products. The specific issue with people going backwards is likely easily (at least relatively) resolved with a patch, but considering the issue was already well known within the online racing genre, should have been addressed in the release.

Your reference to CoD is utterly meaningless outside of the irrelevant diatribe
PreciousRoi 19 Dec 2010 11:25
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