Gran Turismo 5 is a lot of things, it’s about cars, about speed and about craftsmanship, but above all else, it’s about one man’s obsessive quest for perfection. Originally introduced to the public in mid 2005, Sony’s much anticipated driving simulator was met with delay after delay – and why? Lead designer Kazunori Yamauchi would accept nothing short of perfection for his game – and it shows. It shows in the remarkable attention to the smallest details, the perfectly environments and the flawless rendering of some of the world’s most wanted cars right down the lugnuts and gears.

Yes, Gran Turismo 5 is, as the box says “a real driving simulator,” but at the same time, it comes dramatically short in terms of games. Throughout much of my time with Gran Turismo 5, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in an art museum – there were a lot of pretty things to look at, but I couldn’t appreciate all of them.  If you’re a car guy, and I mean a real car guy – the type that obsesses over every fine detail of their ride all in an effort to shave a few milliseconds off your time, this is your game, but those not that hardcore could be bit turned off here. Yes, the learning curve is steep, some may say even daunting, but in the right hands, that could be a very good thing.

Yes, Gran Turismo 5 is insanely detailed from the painstakingly sculpted cars to the picturesque skylines you’ll drive though; but it’s not all looks, the game packs a walloping punch of content that’s sure to keep you busy. From small and flimsy go-karts, to the newly implemented NASCAR cars and even big hulking  pieces of metal and engine like Dodge Challengers, there’s no shortage of cars here. You start off the meaty portion of Gran Turismo 5 with a rundown jalopy, much akin to the first car you probably bought when you were sixteen years old. Through competing in races and spending time in the shop, you’ll eventually create your own custom ride built to your own specifications.  It’s quite the feat, but also insanely rewarding when pull it off.

Yes, this is an actual screenshot.

Here’s the problem though – I’m not a car guy, never have been. I don’t have the patience or knowledge of the automotive world to give to the minor details and tweaks the game asks of me. I know how I like my racing games, I want to jump in, feel some awesome velocity and compete, with Gran Turismo 5, you do all that, but in between you’re micro managing the tiniest decisions about the tiniest piece of a gigantic machine. No, this isn’t necessarily a fault, but it can be seen as daunting to players like me who just want to race. The game is great at what it does, it’s just got to do it in front of a very selective audience.

As superb and detailed as the game’s creation system is, it’s got some strange omissions as well. You mean to tell me that while I can decide  the tiniest decisions about my car, I can’t do a fully customized paint job on specific cars? The selections seem to get stranger as you unlock the more higher old cars. Whether or not this is because the game uses licensed cars is debatable, but it makes the game feel uneven at times. Outside of the cutsomization, there’s a few omissions as well, including a dedicated career mode.

More often than not, Gran Turismo 5’s visuals are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but much like other portions of the game, it too is a mixed bag. Certain tracks, like London and Madrid are breathtaking and prime examples of what a game can do, it’s just a shame that the folks at Polyphonic Dream didn’t give the same love to all of the game’s venues. Tracks like Cape Ring and Daytona feel flat and uninspired due to flat looking textures and a lack of imagination.

The game features over 1000 cars, and a lot of minute decisions.

Gran Turismo 5’s online suite is capable if nothing else, there’s little deviation from the straight up racing format, but it handles so amazingly that it’s excusable.  The real crime is the fact there’s no real depth to the online mode at all. For instance, why are there no leader boards? I may not be one, but I know a lot of car people, and there’s nothing they want more than to put their customs up against others. Why no rankings? Why not a rivals system? Polyphonic Dream has committed to bringing some of these additions to the game’s online suite, which should help things, but why didn’t we have it right out of the box after years of waiting?

The Blast Factor: To the right audience, Gran Turismo 5 isn’t just an astoundingly detailed game, its perfection, but for those not willing to put forth the effort and time to navigate through menu after menu, customization after customization, it can be a bit lacking. While other games like the incredibly fun Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit focus on the pure of high velocity action, Gran Turismo focuses on the minute details of being obsessed with your car – and it’s both a positive and a negative depending on who you are and how you like you’re racing.

About The Author

Joe Sinicki is Blast's Executive Editor. He has an unhealthy obsession with Back to the Future and wears cheese on his head. Follow him on Twitter @BrewCityJoe

10 Responses

  1. that guy

    How was it not well thoughtout? He makes valid points and explains his opinnions very well. Your comment wasn’t very well thought out I think.

  2. mrjudgesmith

    “I’m not a car guy, never have been.”

    ^ There’s the problem….why the hell would his KIND review something that is not for HIS KIND…..

    EPIC FAIL…..

  3. V

    So the gist of this review is… “I as a gamer don’t get into this game because I don’t like driving simulations.”

    Not much of a review, is it? I guess you can enjoy your Need For Speed.

    Personally, I’m a driving enthusiast (not a car enthusiast). The game has its drawbacks, but mass appeal is not one of them. It’s one of the simplest and easiest driving games ever made. You can just go and buy a car, then drive it. You don’t have to think about setup at all if you don’t want to.

    Buy a car, get some good tyres for it, then pick an appropriate race and drive!

    The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is engaging and addictive, it’s accessible to everyone who enjoys driving, great sense of speed, the handling is predictable (if not ultimately realistic), the progression up the experience levels and money scale gives incentive to progress and is well balanced, the extra features like karting, NASCAR, TopGear and Nurburgring challenges give a bit of variety.
    The menu system is easy to use after you get used to it, although it could be better.

    Overall the game is absolutely brilliant. My only real gripe is that GT5’s idea of rallying is horribly misguided. If they cut the width of the road in half and made the stages 10x longer, it might get close to a rally experience.

    Anyway, I’d give this review 3/10, while the game is a very impressive 10/10 for me. It was well worth the wait!

      • V

        I was a little harsh on the review. But you didn’t scratch the surface of this game. It’s far more than a pretty museum of cars.

        My 10/10 is more a 9.5/10 rounded up.
        The bits I have a problem with are extensions to the game that they didn’t quite get. But in terms of the core objective of this game… an accessible racing game, they nailed it! It’s a step up in every aspect.

        Polyphony have done a lot to water this game down for people who don’t like a challenge in their driving games. The car setup is simplified. The handling model is simplified. The Arcade Mode lets you just jump in and drive. You can fly through the In the Career mode, you can even get cars which are way too powerful for the competition and win every race without driving well… that’s your choice.

        I can’t see why you’d criticise the game (accounts for about half of your review) for it targeting the wider driving market and not everyone in the world. This is a racing game for drivers. It’s not Mario Kart or Burnout. There are plenty of games which target the masses.

        If you’re focused on making custom designs for your car, you’ve got to question why you’re playing a racing sim?

        You’re entitled to review it based on whatever criteria you like. But I wanted to balance it out with some information about the depth of the game and the lengths they’ve gone to to make it accessible to every wannabe racer, as it seems you haven’t progressed far enough to explore the finer points.

        I give it a 9.5/10, because it’s up with the best driving games ever released and comfortably in the Top 10 games of the year. A stunning and well-rounded racing game. It has A written all over it.

      • V

        Sorry to fill out the comments section…

        As a non-racer, what did you think of the licence system? And the dynamic driving line, updating real-time to show you braking and accelerating techniques?

        I was quite impressed by it as a method to teach you how to drive and help familiarise you with the way different cars handle. You didn’t mention it in your review, but I’m interested to know.

  4. that guy

    Wow, I can’t believe how many people are complaining that thia game didnt get a perfect score. Yes, it has its flaws, but a b is still a great score. And as for why HE reviewed it? Shouldnt Sony’s biggest game of the year be playable by everyone? They better hope so.

    Hes not the only one to say it, check out IGN, GamePro OR Joystiq’s review. they all had simmilar issues.

    • V

      It seems the reviewers are looking for things in this game which are contradictory to the game’s genre. Polyphony didn’t set out to make a better game than Need For Speed, Burnout or Midnight Club. If you want to compare it like-for-like, look at games like GTR2 and RFactor.

      I do agree with one of Joe’s criticisms though. There is a lack of online leaderboard. I can only assume it’s coming soon.

      GT5 is the new benchmark in racing sims. Not sure why that would warrant an 8/10.

      Out of interest… what improvements would have to be made for it to get a 10/10?


Leave a Reply