Review by McSalsa2008

"Gran Turismo is back, and it's as good as ever, for better or worse."

GRAN TURISMO 5 REVIEW

In 1998, a little-known (then anyhow) developer named Polyphony Digital released a game called Gran Turismo. This title was one of the first console titles to offer realistic racing and wowed gamers with its 160 cars, 11 tracks, and numerous game modes. In the titles that followed, Polyphony continued to raise the bar, each title offering more cars (except for Gran Turismo 3, which had LESS cars than Gran Turismo 2) and tracks than before, and with increased realism every time. However, between the releases of Gran Turismo 4 and 5, a new challenger for the sim racing throne emerged- Forza Motorsport, developed by Turn 10 and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360. While the first two Forzas were excellent, Forza 3, released in 2009, took things to another level by upping the level of polish and increasing the user-friendliness of the game. To make matters worse for GT, the "small" GT titles released between GT4 and GT5, Gran Turismo 5:Proluge and Gran Turismo PSP, were not met with overwhelming praise and the long wait for GT5 caused much anger. Could GT5 deliever in such harsh conditions? On 11-24-2010, we finally found out...

GRAPHICS
One of the staples of the GT Series has always been beautiful graphics. And GT5 is amazing in this area. The attention to detail, even in standard cars, is great. The tracks are good looking, especially when it's night or raining, or in some cases both. The scenery of some of the tracks is jaw-dropping. Some minor flaws, easily overlookable, are that there is a small amount of pop-up and some (but not all) of the standard cars are a little "rough" around the edges. Also, the car damaged is "unlocked" at the later levels and even then is underwhelming. Shadows also occasionally have minor flaws. However, the game is so pretty I cannot give it anything less than a 10/10.
Score: 10/10

SOUND
Gran Turismo 5 features excellent sound effects, but the music selection is...subpar. Where did the awesome soundtracks we had from the first 4 games go? There are a few decent songs here and there, but the soundtrack overall is a dissapointment. However, you can now make your own custom soundtracks using the PS3 Hard Drive, and listen to them during races and on the menus. I'd do it if I were you. Overall, sound is good but the default music sucks.
Score: 8/10

DRIVING ENGINE
Gran Turismo 5's driving engine is very solid, and is perhaps the greatest strength of the entire game. The controls feel very solid and the cars all behave realistically, so your 800hp+ FR car will spin the tires unless you have very good tires and lots of aids/downforce to help you. The rally racing is much more playable now, thanks to this improved physics model. Overall the new game engine is excellent. Polyphony did a nice job here.
Score: 10/10

CAREER MODE
This is, quite honestly, one of the areas I have a few problems with in GT5. First off, there aren't as many career races as there were in GT4. In GT4, in addition to the main events, you had regional and one-make races, and there were overall TONS of races to do. In GT5, they have streamlined choosing race events in 6 "divisions" based on "difficulty", but with only 9 races per division, this means there just isn't as much racing to do. The game tries to make up for this by having B-Spec as another game mode, but since these are the same races, it feels repetitive and boring- plus, you aren't driving. There are also special events, which do give some depth to the career and help your level & income quite a bit, but even then there are only so many of them. Liscence Tests are still around, but are now optional. In their place is a Forza-like "Level" system, but the level of EXP required to reach some of the higher levels results in...level grinding. Ouch. Not a good idea, PD, not a good idea. And now, you cannot re-race events to win prize cars like you could in GT4, and some cars cannot be sold. This means you have to spend hours and hours just to save up $20,000,000 for a classic race car for the classic car race. Once again, ow. PD screwed up the career mode of GT5. It's nowhere near as good as Forza 3 or even Gran Turismo 4. There are still enough races to keep this score decent, but...it's not enough to make GT5's career mode incredible.
Score: 7/10

ONLINE
Well, it's not the best in the world, but GT5's online does work, and it is actually really quite fun once you get how the GT5 online community works. There may be some lag now and then, but it's still pretty rare and I only suspect that it's due to people with slow internet trying to play GT5. You have to rely on the room names to find specific races, which is a shame, but once you get a good race, GT5 shines online. You can also gift and trade cars you may have won from car vouchers, so if you win a car you don't want, you can at least try to trade it for something else. In a recent update, PD added special online races and an online dealership with rare & useful cars, a HUGE plus.
Score: 9/10

CAR CUSTOMIZATION
If you have played Forza 3, and expected GT5 to have more customization...I am so sorry. You're going to be dissapointed. GT5's 2 levels of cars- standard and premium- each have their own levels of customization, but neither comes close to Forza 3, Midnight Club, or Need for Speed. Standard cars can be re-painted and get spoilers, but they can't even get rims. WHY!?!? In GT4, you could change rims, but not in GT5? The premium cars fare quite a bit better, as they can also get body kits and carbon fiber hoods, as well as rims. But the selection isn't world-class and there is no livery editor. One interesting note, you have to "win" colors in order to paint your car, but this isn't a huge problem since you (usually) get colors whenever you buy or win a car. So go ahead, paint a Ferrari "Verde Countach Green", I dare you. Or better yet...PINK. BWA HA HA!!! Overall, customization is OK, but nothing to write home about.
Score: 7/10

MISC
Other things worth nothing:
-NASCAR was a major addition for GT5. They did a great job with it even though there aren't that many drivers and only 16 cars per race maximum. The physics are great.

-Top Gear is featured in GT5 in the form of their test track, but it's buried in special events and Top Gear is hardly ever used. No "beat the Stig's time with..." or reasonably priced cars? I'm dissapointed. Top Gear is a great TV show about cars and this is how it gets treated?

-There are now time trial point-to-point rallies, but only about 12 events featuring them, all in special events. They feature dirt, snow, and tarmac based tracks and are really very fun.

-There is a special event called "The Grand Tour" which features both time trials and races across Italy. It's really an epic event with beautiful cutscences. When you reach Level 13, I highly advise you try it out, plus it pays great and you drive Lambos and Ferraris!

-For some reason, you can no longer upgrade brakes, and only sport & semi-racing clutches & flywheels are avaliable. Weird.

OVERALL
Gran Turismo 5 is one flawed...masterpiece. While I have a mile-long list of complaints about this game, it somehow overcomes them all. The driving engine is superb. The online play is fun. Racing at very detailed and accurate real-world racetracks in super-beautiful, highly detailed cars is what the game does best. If you love cars, you should enjoy Gran Turismo 5. It may fall short in some areas compared to Forza Motorsport 3, but in others it blows it away. GT5 is still the real driving simulator, for better or worse. Nonetheless, I do hope some of GT5's problems are fixed when GT6 comes around.

And to Polyphony on that...

PLEASE DON'T MAKE US WAIT 5 FREAKING YEARS AGAIN!!!

Thanks.

SCORE: 9/10
Not an average.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/11

Game Release: Gran Turismo 5 (US, 11/24/10)


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