Gran Turismo 5 Review

Gran Turismo 5

RPGs: when one thinks of this genre, they immediately of big, burly knights slaying dragons with swords and magic, or over-effeminate, brooding anti-heroes with large weapons and even larger attitudes. There have been some variations on the concept, but never to a scale quite like what I’ve been experiencing over the last few days.

Say hello to a racing RPG. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Gran Turismo 5.

I can’t even begin to tell you how friggin’ big this game is. Yes, you’ve heard about the car total being over a grand and there being over 70 track variations, but they’re small statistics compared to the amount of time you’ll be devoting to this game should you pursue it. This is a racing fan’s dream come true.

The reason I call it a "racing RPG" is because it fits the exact formula of the classic RPG: start weak (slow, in this case), gradually win battles (races) to build up your stats (parts/new cars). There are so many different choices it’s almost too much. For a guy like me, who’s familiar with the series but not a massive car nut, the different customizations are either understandable or completely foreign. Luckily, the game has an entire training/tutorial mode, teaching you the ins and outs of the trade while recruiting the help of Jeff Gordon for the NASCAR section.

Where the game really excels is in its pacing. GT5 doesn’t just throw you in and say, "Have fun," it walks you through the all of the different types and styles of racing quite well. The beginning of the GT experience will be slow and a bit mundane, but it all serves as the foundation for the greater goal of building and racing the best cars this world has to offer. GT5 will never lead you astray, and never give you any false information, and that is a stellar feat.

Gran Turismo 5

While GT Mode is the meat of GT5, there are other features that may appeal to the not-so-racing-crazy crowd. Arcade mode allows for Single Races and 1-on-1 battles. The track editor brings out the engineer in you, as you develop a track that everyone would be proud to race on. Gran Turismo TV acts as the portal to all of the media that GT players can create: pictures, videos, etc. These additions are essential to the entire package, as now anyone can just jump in and enjoy everything GT5 has to offer without being a certified auto mechanic.

While all the features allow for enjoyable gameplay, the technical side is even more impressive. As I raced earlier my father walked past the television and wondered why I was watching racing and not football. He didn’t believe me when I said that I was playing a game on the PS3 until I pressed the HOME screen on the controller. Any game with that ability must be doing something right as far as graphics are concerned. It’s not just the cars and tracks that the game does well; weather is incorporated into some of the offroad rally races, and I thought there’d be precipitation on the TV screen when I was done. If you need any proof that Polyphony did six years worth of work, look no further than GT5‘s incredible visual presentation.

A major graphical addition to the game is the damage physics. Basically, if you were to crash a car in real life the way you crash in GT5, both the real car and the virtual would look exactly the same afterward. I couldn’t believe the realism that went into the dents and dings I took running into the wall numerous times. While it’s pitched as a racing sim, demolition derby fans will get theirs too.

If you’ve ever played a Gran Turismo game before, you know the controls. X is gas, Square is brake, Triangle is reverse, etc. Not changing the control scheme is a big plus, as it allows players who’ve been waiting six years for their racing can jump right back in without any learning curve. Musically, the game offers a lot of standard fare: electronic music with the occasional guitar solo, all written to excite the fans/players. While these aspects are virtually the same, everything else about the game brings Gran Turismo into a whole new age, and resets the bar for racing sims.

In six years, there have been Forza MotorSport racing games, Need for Speed racing games, and other racing franchises that have tried to take the title from Gran Turismo. With one iteration, Gran Turismo 5 reminds us why it’s the champion. The racing is tight and well-controlled, the visuals make you think you’re playing real life, and the vast amount of cars, tracks, modes, and customizations make Gran Turismo 5 seem more like a racing MMO than just a simulator. Racing fans, your opus is here. Enjoy it.

5 out of 5


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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