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Wednesday 1st December 2010


GT5: Worth The Wait, Or Wot?

PH emerges from the games room and asks what day it is...


It's been a few days since Gran Turismo 5 was released, and at last the guys in the office have unlocked the door to the PH games cupboard and dragged me out for a verdict.

Has it been long enough time to form opinions about the gameplay, they demand to know? And more importantly what's the answer to the burning question on everyone's lips - has this new version of Gran Turismo really been worth the six year wait?

But such trivialities as 'waiting' don't concern me when it comes to games like GT5. You see, to a petrol-head console addict, there's more to driving games than getting hold of the fastest cars, winning races and getting trophies.

No, games like Gran Turismo and Forza are about driving, not necessarily racing. So whether it's drifting a Volvo 240 Estate around London, or hours and hours spent making sure the damper rates are just perfect, that secret ingredient has to be present in a game like this.


Luckily, GT5 has lots of the secret ingredient. There's such an array of cars and tracks that it'd be difficult for any real car fan not to find their vice, even if it's as obscure as collecting Kei cars (which is mine), 4WD super estates, modern classics, or even MGFs. GT5 caters to all tastes, which is its trump card.

Another thing petrolheads might appreciate, and which will hark back to that difficult world we call 'reality' is the game's used car dealer. Finding the car you're looking for is a real task in GT5.You can have all the money in the world, but if the dealer doesn't have your ultra rare vehicle in stock, then it's tough.

But all that special ingredient was abundant in GT4, so what extra elements does GT5 have that really justify those six years of development? The answer is in the details. Whether it's the pop of flames on a downshift, or the impeccable handling model, everything that was good in previous GT games is here, but improved.


And the story doesn't stop there. There are plenty of entirely new cars, which are modelled so beautifully that a spectator might easily mistake them for the real thing. There's also a set of rewarding 'special' challenges which are much more rewarding than standard races.

As well as new additions, some of GT4's annoyances have been ironed out. The menu system isn't the wonky mess it was in GT4, and the sometimes infuriating licence tests aren't necessary to progress in the game.

Then of course, there's that staple of Gran Turismo, the tuning and customisation. But sadly that's one area in which GT5 has been overtaken -and indeed lapped - by Forza 3.

There's a lot of scope for turbocharging, tuning and tweaking, but Forza has so much more. It gives players the option to paint veritable artworks on their cars, as well as swap engines and add a larger array of parts. A RWD Chevrolet Aveo with a supercharged V8 is possible in Forza 3, and it certainly isn't in GT5.


And while on that all too clich├ęd comparison between Forza and Gran Turismo, there's the subject of cockpits. The cockpits on Forza aren't quite as polished as the ones in GT5, but there are more of them. That's because in GT5, they're only modelled on 'premium' cars, of which there are relatively few compared to standard cars.

When asked about the differences at the game launch, president of Polyphony digital, Kazunori Yamauchi, told us that every premium car in the game took six months to create. No wonder there aren't cockpits on all of the cars, or the game would never have come out! Standard cars are lifted from previous incarnations of Gran Turismo, given a polish, and dropped into GT5.

However, it's early days if the patching schedule is anything to go by. Within the four days of the games release, two patches have been released to add more functionality. The game designers say these updates will be regular, and will add more premium cars, as well as improvements to damage modelling, and fixes to bugs.


It seems that the perfectionism that delayed the game for so long will also be present in the ongoing updates for the game. But if the updates take forever, I'm not too bothered, because I have a Volvo 240 to drift and a million little Japanese K cars to buy.

Collecting, tuning and tweaking is what makes Gran Turismo games so unique, and with awe inspiring graphics, a greater selection of cars, and all sorts of new and interesting driving environments, the answer to the 'has it been worth it question' is clear.

Yes - so go ahead and stick it on your Christmas 'wanted' list.

Author: John Slavin

Get it off your chest...

196 comments on this story

Last comment was by MadRob6
on 26th January 2011