Review by Cudwieser
"It's GT, but not as we know it"
Over 5 years in the making and 1000 cars later Gran Turismo 5 is here. The latest in the long running driving simulator series, GT5 has been left with some insanely big shoes to fill and fill then it does, just. Carrying on from where GT4 left off GT5 seeks to take some of the ideas first seen in its immediate predecessor and integrate them as more central aspects of the game.
Taking the A Spec and B Spec points system GT5 has been crafted into a game more focused on your progression and career as a driver (manager for B spec), limiting the cars you can buy and drive depending on your level as a driver, a level only advanced by earning A or B spec points by winning races, completing Licenses or special events.
So far so good, but here are some bumps in the road. While you are rewarded cars as prizes as before, what you earn you must keep. While you can sell most cars, there appears to be no option to sell a car and win it again, thus limiting the more free form aspect of previous GT games, No longer can you simply win a race, get a good car, sell it, win the race again and amass a huge fortune. You only earn money from racing. Now you must work for your supper.
Thankfully you now earn progressively more money per race than you did before and while the races aren't any longer than before you still have to earn your crust as the AI tightens up considerably as you progress and with limited resources at your disposable GT5 can get very hard indeed. All this will dissuade some and will really only appeal to the GT purists and faithful.
New to the GT series is visible car damage, a long time desire of GT fans. It is now possible to crash, flip and write off your car adding to the realism and difficulty of later races where racing gets tight and aggressive. The only gripe about this however is the fact the most visible damage is reserved for the premium cars, bought through the new car show room. Standard (used) cars only receive dents and scratches and mechanical damage. Not a big issue, but one born of another annoyance.
While there are 1000 cars to have and enjoy, there are some things you should know. Firstly only 200 or so are very visibly damaged and carry extra details such as and in car view. This will irk those hoping for 1000 fully detailed cars, but given the time and resources available to the Polyphony team this is no small achievement. What will genuinely annoy players though is the slightly odd and random award structure of the game. While you can pick up cars the usual way by buying and winning events, you can also pick up cars for traveling certain distances, which is no bad thing, but given that at first appearances there doesn't seem to be enough events to win a fair proportion of the cars that aren't initially available in the game and given that many of the prize cars you win are of limited use in later events players will be left bemused at the start. Keeping with the game however will yield better results thankfully, with better cars being awarded for persistence more so than simply winning races.
Getting to some specifics, those who bought the collectors edition of the game are award with five very useful, uniquely liveried and spec'd cars than will give them a bit of a head start in the earlier races, with enough to hold their own later on in the game. I won't spoil the fun by giving the names of the cars. You will just have to buy the game to find out.
All in all GT5 is a very good game that requires persistence to get the most from it. It will frustrate and deter more casual fans, but stick with it and it will yield results. A lot could have been done better, such as maintaining the free form aspect of old, but otherwise this is a game worthy of any GT collection. Good effort Sony, but need to do better with GT6.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/06/10
Game Release: Gran Turismo 5 (Collector's Edition) (US, 11/24/10)
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