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Gran Turismo 5 Review

By Jeff Buckland, 1/11/2011

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Played on:

PS3

After years of delays and a wait that almost put Polyphony Digital's latest racing game, Gran Turismo 5, solidly into vaporware contention, it's finally here. The PS3 now has a true flagship racing game, one that goes beyond Polyphony's two previous (and highly disappointing) false starts. With a feature list that seems to go on for miles, it seems like this is going to be the quintessential console racing sim. But does that actually hold true?

The first Gran Turismo that I really enjoyed, believe it or not, was the PSP version released in 2009. Before that, if I knew I was stuck with a gamepadís analog stick, I always preferred arcade-style racing. But with GT5, I sat through the big, well-hyped launch and waited until I could use a real steering wheel - specifically, I'm using Logitech's G25 for this review - before I could ever get serious with a game like this.


I'm glad I did, too, because GT5 and this wheel work together like they'd been designed for each other right from the start (something that can't possibly actually be true, since the G25 has been out for years). The feel of every bump, the pull on the wheel when you're in a slide and your car's ass is swinging out, and the feedback of driving feels very realistic. Sadly, this game is a very uneven experience. At times it comes off as one of the deepest and most most legit racing games ever made, and at other times itís a petulant, spoiled brat spawned from developer Polyphony Digital, yanking the fun away from the player and making the whole thing an exercise in frustration - something that shouldnít be happening in a racing game where you have access to some of the world's hottest cars.

Second-class Cars

It starts with the difference between Premium and Standard cars. Of the 1000+ cars that have been included in GT5, you'll see a pretty heavy preference for Japanese models, which isn't terribly surprising because it's a Japanese developer that made the game. Between those, most of the cars are Standard versions, with slightly lower detail in the polygon count and texture quality, but most importantly, they donít have distinctly modeled interiors and you cannot drive them in the in-cockpit camera view. All you get is a hood cam, bumper cam, and a third-person view from above and behind the car.


And guess what cars you'll be starting out with, for the most part? Yep, Standard ones. As you move on, there are admittedly a lot of of great cars towards the end that are modeled fully as Premium cars, but the problem is that the car world is a very opinionated one, and if you read the blogs, watch shows like Top Gear or even do some amateur racing yourself, you're bound to find a car you love (or at least are very interested in) that's been left behind as a Standard version in GT5. To me, this is a problem that the developers should have immediately started to work on, with weekly Rock Band-style DLC updates, online or in-game polling to find out which cars the community wanted Premium-ized first, and an eventual goal of making every car they bothered to put on their roster a Premium car - especially considering just about every other AAA racing developer now considers cockpit views as, well, a ďstandardĒ feature. Anyway, PD has been silent on this matter, and there are no published plans to upgrade Standard cars to Premium versions.

Camera

While the downgraded looks of Standard cars is one thing, being stuck in one can also be a pretty big gameplay disadvantage if you heavily prefer the in-cockpit mode. This is doubly true because the engine sounds are so weak whenever the camera is outside the car - more on that later in the review. The point here is that if you like the simulation style of being in the cockpit and need to hear the engine properly in order to drive, you're going to hate being in Standard cars - and thatís the majority of the cars available to you.

AI


The AI in Gran Turismo 5 isn't awful, nor does it depend on heavy "rubber-banding" in order to smooth out the challenge. Hell, it even looks good when you're not involved, as cars will occasionally trade paint and will pull some interesting moves (and sometimes make serious mistakes in the process) to try and get past other racers, although you mostly see this in the hands-off B-spec mode rather than when youíre racing. The issue here, simply, is that the AI has no direct difficulty settings to fiddle with, and itís especially mean to the player. If a faster comes up behind you in order to pass you, trying to block them will often lead to the AI purposely pulling a PIT maneuver on you, spinning you out and likely putting you in last place by the time you can get up to speed again.

The AI will specifically try to bully you and only you because it works like a hive mind. Iíve heard it described by more than one annoyed player as Zombie AI, and it does feel like an apt description, as the opposition will ignore you, doing their own thing, until you get in their way. Combine this with zero damage modeling at the beginning of the game and no rewind system, and players are forced to fight dirty and really start slamming into other cars, something that is disallowed in the license tests but winds up being almost totally necessary in many races in the full game.


To be specific, what youíll have to do is brake late when going into corners and crash into (and careen off of the sides of) AI cars, knocking them off their line and putting you one or two places ahead. I donít know about you, but if I was in a real-life race between quarter-million-dollar supercars, I donít think Iíd be purposely colliding into cars like the go karts down at Malibu Speedway just to try and win. As simulation-like as this gameís driving is, the aggressive hive-mind AI and lack of damage modeling ruins any realism that is built through physics modeling or high-level car tuning. Even this would be excusable if the whole thing was balanced for fun at least, but for most of the time, thatís simply not the case.

Fixing mistakes

You'll find that traction and steering control features won't do everything to keep you from spinning out all on your own in this game, either, and it's unfortunate that the developers didn't feel the need to implement a true difficulty system. Yes, you can toggle things like the racing line, traction control, and the like, but if you make a mistake and wind up in last place because of it, all you can do is restart the whole race (which isn't an option in a series, and that's much of what the game's main A-spec career mode is - in that case, your only option is to quit the series entirely) or simply limp across the finish line in whatever place you can pick up at the end.


This is a hugely unforgiving game, one that doesn't care to help you get better at driving. For that, all youíve got is the chance to start over and maybe youíll be better, or maybe youíll get lucky. For those that are used to the Gran Turismo way of doing things and hail it as the best racing game franchise around, this is probably not an issue. They consider finding success in a game like this to serve as a badge of honor, but it is important to point out that for anyone jumping into GT for the first time, theyíll find it to be user-unfriendly, unforgiving, and unrepentantly difficult. You either endure and keep bashing your head against this game, figuring out how to fix mistakes by repetition and avoid the aggressive AI, or you fail. In many races, youíll find yourself either in the top 3 or in last place.

Career Mode

The main mode, the career-styled GT mode, gets you off on the wrong foot right from the start. As we've seen with past GT games, you have to start with license tests before you can do the main races, and these are stuffy and boring pretty much the whole way through. Even when you finish the first battery of 10 of them, you can only enter B-spec races, which is where you're yelling at an AI racer to pick up the pace or cool off - and you get to to helplessly watch as he sheepishly ekes out something like fifth or sixth place out of eight most of the damn time. There is an RPG-like system for improving your AI driver's skills, and it does get better eventually, but when it serves as the first "true" race events you can do in your career mode, you'll find the B-spec mode to alternate between being either boring and frustrating.

The lack of excitement in B-spec mode has at least something to do with how little your AI driver actually connects with you, as you pick a name from randomly generated ones and only choose from a few starting base sets of statistics. You donít fine-tune anything yourself and donít choose a look or beyond a very vague gender-neutral racing outfit. If this is intended to be an RPG, thatís a pretty weak character creation mode. The driver youíre directing has a total of four options you can use during the race (pick up the pace, keep pace steady, slow down the pace, and overtake an opponent) and you get very little feedback on your driverís actual condition in the race, beyond a couple of little meters at the bottom of the screen, until itís too late and a huge mistake is made. This mode was interesting and unique at least in theory, but the execution was lackluster and dull.

So, you go through the next set of 10 licenses, and you can finally get into A-spec races where you are the actual driver. One of the earliest events I could even participate in put me, in my awful Mazda MX-5, against a bunch of faster cars. At least unlike Forza 3 I wasn't always starting out in last place, but I quickly found that that might have been better, as trying to block any AI racer who almost immediately passed me would result in getting pitted and spun out. It was the most frustrating, rage-inducing time I had in this game, as over fifteen tries always got me the same result. When I let it go and tried to win the old fashioned way, an hour-long session of trying this short race netted me very few results beyond fourth place out of eight. I can deal with hard difficulty AI in Forza 3 with most assists turned off and only a few rewinds - even on the inferior Microsoft wheel - but here I simply quit trying to actually do that race because the game does nothing to help players improve. Being that this was in the first couple hours of playing, that seemed entirely unacceptable.

All those features?


Some of the features, like the track creator, are great additions that should add extra months and even years to the life of GT5. Unfortunately, there are quite a few features that a good chunk of gamers are going to find extraneous, like the go-karts and B-spec AI-driven racing. And for those of us who find stock car races boring, well, that's not a feature we really care for. It's weird that Polyphony Digital focused much more on something like NASCAR over, say, the World Rally Championship, but I suspect it's because NASCAR only requires a few big oval tracks and some pretty basic car modeling and tuning - "real" rally events would require miles of winding paths instead of easier closed tracks, and there'd need to be some solid special effects as well as tons of new physics for dirt and mud handling. Yeah, there are some dirt-based races here, but they donít really capture rally in the way that even more arcadey games like the DIRT series has done.

Even with all of those features thrown in, you'd think that a huge flagship racing game this important to Sony would have better online functionality, the ability to fiddle with replays more (including doing basic things like rewinding), damage modeling that doesn't take dozens of hours of gameplay just to start using, a slicker interface without the long load times, or more time spent driving and less time sitting in menus and loading screens.

Technical


One of my favorite things about GT5 is that it effortlessly supplies 1080p visuals at 60fps, delivering a crisp picture that really does make a difference over the years of 720p console gaming we've gotten so used to. Here, the lines are sharp, the textures are well-defined (especially those Premium car models!), and the action is silky smooth. You can drop down to 720p and get 3D if you've got the correct TV and shutter glasses setup, but let's face it: considering the weak proliferation of this hardware, I think it's safe to call this a gimmick feature.

GT5 also has the first console-based instance I've seen of dynamic hard drive installation. If you don't want to do the excruciating 45-minute installation to start, what the game essentially can do is start from the disc, load up tracks and menus as you play through them, and install this data to the hard drive on the fly, slowly increasing the game's footprint on your PS3 hard drive as you play it. What sucks about it is that the load times are awful even after a bunch of the game has been cached to the hard drive, and you'll often find yourself sitting impatiently for nearly a minute waiting for some races to load. It may not seem like much, but when every race (even the ones that are 5 minutes long or less) all come with load times like this, it adds up over the course of even a two- or three-hour session with the game. GT5 looks pretty damn good, but Iím not sure the load times are really worth the increase in visual quality.

Where's the Love for Driving?


One of the things that impressed me most about Forza 3 was just how much fun it made simply jumping into a car and driving it around a track. Sure, it seems a little behind on the physics and realism department compared to GT5 - although I suspect it's more because most people, including me, turn on at least one or two of the driving assists - but I almost didn't need to be racing with other cars to have fun, and having them on the track still didnít ruin the experience like it often does in GT5. Forza funnels you towards racing, spending as little time as possible in menu screens and keeping load times short. Hell, even Gran Turismo on PSP did a better job of maintaining the fun of racing than GT5 has accomplished.

Here, the fun can be found, but it's buried under piles of menus, stupid-long load times, and frustrating AI. If it's not a general lack of enthusiasm for racing that I'm noticing from Polyphony Digital, then it seems at the very least to be a lack of excitement for people actually trying to enjoy their game.

Sound

Any racing game fan loves the sound of a powerful race car's engine rumbling, growling, and roaring, but the developers seemed to not care about working on it much in GT5. It's nice to go into the garage, switch to any car, and hear the sound of the engine starting, but once you get in-game, it's weak as hell. The only half-decent engine sounds you get are in the in-cockpit view and that only comes with Premium cars (so all Standard cars sound awful pretty much by default), and while it's possible there's a problem with my home theater, all engine sounds would only primarily come through one front speaker - depending on which side was the driver's side. Environmental sounds and screeching tires are also pretty lackluster, making the sound design a real disappointment in GT5. Both Forza and Need for Speed: SHIFT have done a better job of this in the last couple of years, and itís a shame that the biggest driving simulation of them all is so far behind.


The music covers a huge range, from classical to lounge jazz, alternative and dance, but I found most of it to be pretty ho-hum and very disconnected from the actual racing. Gran Turismo 5 does support custom soundtracks, but the feature is buried in an obscure secondary menu (separate from the song selection menu or the XMB), where I suspect many players who don't read GT forums all day will never find it.

Only for serious enthusiasts

From a technical standpoint, Gran Turismo 5 may not stack up to the extremely meticulous racing games on the PC, but its production values and huge stable of cars give it a balance that no other game has really struck. It's more technical and probably a better pure driving simulation than Forza 3 is on the 360, but the fun is also more rear-loaded and overall it's much less of a joy to play than I was hoping for, especially after having so much on the PSP. Some gamers see this gameís unforgiving and rigid style to be a plus, but I feel that there should be a range of difficulties and more ways to enjoy such a huge, ambitious, sprawling racing game like this, and GT5 lacks that.


I suspect that only the most hardcore of GT5 owners will ever see the majority of the cars, events, and tracks offered, and that's really a shame for those who donít, because so much effort went into making much of this content so great. It'll probably be years again before Polyphony Digital delivers another Gran Turismo, but I think it's pretty clear what they need to work on: treat all the cars with equal love, give players more options to fine-tune the AI, make driving something to be enjoyed rather than endured, improve all aspects of the online functionality, and re-prioritize all those features into something more focused on fun than a back-of-the-box list.

Overall: 7 out of 10

Related


Comments

1/13/2011 04:54:34 AM
Posted by Axe99
Seriously?! Did you play the game? Where do I start:
- In Career mode, before you do anything else, you can buy a premium Civic and race, straight away.

There - in one (correct) sentence I've knocked over two of your (false) claims in this review - ie, that you don't get premium cars only (which you do - there's a number of premiums you can afford with your first 20K) and that you have to do license tests before you can race! And I haven't even started the second page.

Your description of how you have to race is a purely personal thing as well, and should be described as such. It is perfectly possible (even advisable ;)) to race as if you were racing properly - you'll get faster laps and finish first more often. Yes, the AI does nudge the back of you a bit more often than I'd like, but that's the main flaw. Other than that, it's pretty damn good, and very, very enjoyable to race against, in a sim (not dodgem-kart) style.

As for your complaint about having to race a whole race before having to start again, welcome to sim-style racing. GT5 made it quite clear there was no rewind function, and given that part of racing is maintaining concentration, a get-out-of-jail rewind card for a sim game removes a significant part of the sim aspect. For an arcade game like Dirt 2 or GriD it makes a lot of sense. For a sim, it's out of place. If you like your games arcade, you shouldn't be playing GT5.

As for the game being "one that doesn't care to help you get better at driving" - err, how about those license tests? They are the best tutorial on driving available in any console driving game yet released.

OK - deep breath and lets see if you fared better on page 2....
1/13/2011 04:58:54 AM
Posted by Axe99
"Anyway, PD has been silent on this matter, and there are no published plans to upgrade Standard cars to Premium versions." Forgot this - actually, PD are on record as saying that they're hoping to upgrade a number of the standards to premiums. More research from you on the game you're reviewing next time, eh? ;).
1/13/2011 05:11:24 AM
Posted by Axe99
Much better on page 2 - at least you skipped most of the blatant factual errors here ;). However, GT5 _does_ support custom soundtracks. You can actually choose a separate custom soundtrack for racing, and another for menus.

I'd actually put the boot more into B-Spec if I was reviewing GT5, but suspect I've spent more time with it and understand it better, and that you lack the B-Spec time to notice its flaws.

In terms of the install, it's worth noting that the gradual 'as-you-go' install doesn't install everything - if you really want to keep those load times down, install everything at the start. They're still longish (around 35 seconds a race, about the same as NFS Shift) but far, far better than running off the disk.

On the by - GT5 has a set of rally races (it's got more Rally races than it does NASCAR ;)) - but it does have a more fleshed out NASCAR school, while the Sebastien Loeb Rally Challenge is more of a time trial challenge than anything that (other than through practice) will teach you about rallying. The Rally Challenge and the dirt tracks (which work well online) are great fun though. And the rally handling is the best I've seen since, well, GT4 (and the old Colin McRae games, before Codies went all arcade). Totally agree NASCAR is dull, but that's clearly personal opinion - it's popular enough in the States' to support it's own game.

Not sure where you're coming from with sound design - I've found the sound to be excellent, either in cockpit, first person or bonnet mode. I don't drive in third-person mode though (as driving a sim in third-person seems a bit strange), and suspect the sounds won't be as intense from that angle, as you wouldn't expect them to be.

However, the sounds on the track I've found were excellent. I knew which side of my rear cars were coming from simply by where the sound was coming from. The environmental noises were excellent as well, except for the widely documented dull whimpers when you bang into other cars (the sound design's largeest flaw by some measure, which you don't even mention!) Maybe you've got your settings a little out of whack?

You've done reasonably with this review for someone who clearly isn't that much into sim-style driving or motorsport, and your point of view is very relevant for that set (ie, there'll be plenty of people that share your opinion). However, one thing that has irked me about GT5's reviews is that people judge it based on how they find it, rather than the game on its merits (granted, this irked me about other games with depth, such as IL-2:Birds of Prey, RUSE or Apache Air Assault). For what it is (sim-style driving and racing), GT5 is the best there is, by some measure. However, people need to understand that it's a sim (which tend to be unforgiving by nature - otherwise it stops being a sim, after all) when they get into it, or they're bound to end up disappointed.
1/13/2011 04:06:54 PM
Posted by Finger
I'll try to go point by point here.

You can't do A-spec races without license tests, and that's the biggest thing on the screen in GT Home. If there's a way buried in the menus or in special races, then that's not very intuitive.

I said "for the most part" with regard to starting cars for a reason. Most people would just buy a car they liked, not searching for only the cars that have all the game's features attached to them.

Your rewind comments have been hashed and rehashed all over GT forums everywhere. If you don't like it, don't use it - it can't be used online in real races anyway - but some of us actually get better at racing with the feature than without it, believe it or not. I'm fine with having a system where players get extra trophies/achievements/cash if they play with rewind disabled.

The license tests are awful at teaching. I did gold/silver on all of them and they taught me almost nothing about how to deal with the game's terrible zombie driver AI.

You're right about the soundtracks. They're just buried in a menu that is actually separate from the song selection menu (where I checked along with Sony's XMB option). If you see no problem with PD doing this, then I imagine you enjoy Ikea's instruction manuals, as well.

The standard->premium upgrade talk comes from the issue that there were supposed to be weekly or monthly updates, promised by the producer, and we've seen nothing yet. Just a vague mention that at some point it'll happen. "Silent" wasn't the right word, agreed.

B-spec was just boring compared to actual racing, something I could have been doing instead. Nope, I didn't spend too many hours with it, and I doubt I'll ever spend another minute with it.

Both versions of the install still left me with terrible load times. Certainly worse than Forza 3's installed load times.

Sound works great in everything else I'm playing, with a proper 5.1 setup through an Onkyo receiver and Sony/Polk speakers. Engine noise was very muted outside the car, and very one-sided inside the car. Switching over to NFS Shift or Forza 3, those games' sound was so much better right off the bat. I decided not to mention the collision noises because other comparable games don't really do any better, and it's already a long review, so I lumped it in with overall sounds.

Your final point has something to do with me not reviewing the game for what it objectively offers I guess, as opposed to my opinion on what the overall experience is. If you're interested in a big list of features, I suggest looking at the back of the box or at Sony's website. Opinions are what you read reviews for.

And no, a sim doesn't have to be unforgiving. It can have a range of settings and features that help you to get better, something that the developers refused to put in. I get it if hardcore GT fans think they're a waste, but not everyone agrees with you, and they're not going to like the game. I'm going to keep giving user-unfriendly sims only mildly positive reviews - because it doesn't have to be that way.
1/13/2011 04:18:29 PM
Posted by Finger
I do appreciate your comments, though, and made a couple of updates to the review. Sadly, having played more since posting this review, I'm even more convinced than before that a 7/10 was right, so it stays where it is. I really hope the next GT can make both serious sim fans and those who want to enjoy the game (on the way to becoming serious sim fans) happy.
1/14/2011 07:39:40 PM
Posted by Axe99
I never questioned your 7/10. I'd say that for a general (modern-day) gamers game, it's a 7/10, but for a sim driving fan or car enthusiast it's a 9/10 - and given you're reviewing for the general public, I'd say you're spot on - my issue was with you not having noticed key features, or misrepresented others - people reading your review as it stood initially would have been given a misleading impression as to some of the games key features (for example, in-game music is almost a dealbreaker for me with driving games).

Although I do note that (and this is more broadly, not a point made in your direction) that some games (Demons Souls is the obvious example, but Ninja Gaiden is another high-profile game that's far more brutal than GT5 and got bonus points for it) get marked up for being unforgiving, whereas other games can get hammered for exactly the same thing. Just the nature of the human condition to be a little inconsistent I think.

I'll reiterate that you can play A-Spec without doing the license tests. I'd played most of the beginner events before I even opened up the menu. I'm not sure what you're doing wrong, but about 50% of the 30-odd GT5 players on my FL did the same - some still haven't done any of the licence tests and are a good chunk of the way through A-Spec! If you'd like, I can start a new game on my Alt PSN, video it on youtube and show you how it's done?

The license tests are pretty good at teaching driving as well - although you're right that they don't teach racing. The drivers aren't zombies though, they actually behave in many ways quite realistically (relative to real racing drivers, not arcade racing games like Burnout or NFS:Shift). The AI does fall over there, and can't deal with players underbraking (a common thing for people with limited driving experience, and a more sensible approach than barrelling through a corner!), which can be pretty frustrating, and is a hole in GT5's AI - I'm not saying GT5 is perfect, by any stretch. The Apex magazine which came with the CE of GT5 has some good points, but they really should have been in the game.

B-Spec is boring, you'll get no arguments from me there - silly, tedious addition to the game. As it is, it's handy to unlock cars and make more money, but basically it's set going then I go away and do something else and come back 20 minutes later for 100K or what-have-you. A game that means you don't play the game is dumb - and the B-Spec enduros go for 24 hours with no option to pause! In my view, PD should've doubled the A-Spec prize money and made the prize cars better, and made B-Spec much more peripheral.

Not surprised that load times are still longer than Forza 3 - Forza has to load less cars, and the 360 tends to be stronger on loading times anyways (unless it's a streaming-style game, which a racer clearly isn't). Wouldn't call them terrible though - just above-average - they're not that different from many other races I've played (Dirt 2 and NFS:Shift were hardly greased lightning on the loading front), but it's definitely worth pointing them out.

Good luck for your future reviews, and if you're not enjoying GT5, don't feel bad about not playing it. It's a niche game that seems to have mass appeal - makes no sense to me, but as I fall in that niche, I'm happy :).
1/15/2011 09:45:22 PM
Posted by Finger
Demon's Souls would have likely gotten a similar review from me, even though I think it's a fantastic, wonderful game. It's a great game that's hard to recommend because of its difficulty, and while many people will say it's fair, much like GT5, you get cheap-shotted a lot and only learn by way of repetition. While I didn't review Demon's Souls on our site, I would have given it a lower score than it got here.

I suppose it's not an issue for me specifically anymore, but is there some trick to starting A-spec on a new career without the license tests? That was the first thing I tried, and was told to go finish the license tests first.

As far as the niche game with mass appeal thing, I actually disagree. NeoGAF recently posted an image that showed total sales of the main GT games since the first, and everyone has been less than the previous, with GT5's first couple months' sales (and low NPD rating) showing it to be right in line with the overall decline. Of course, some of the variance can be attributed to this being across three different generations of consoles (each at different times in their life cycles, as I remember it), but the overall trend still doesn't look good. Thing is, despite what many serious fans are calling a "negative" review (probably less about the score and more about the time spend talking about negative things, but I feel it's important to spend more time/words in a review on specific issues), I still think there's a long future ahead for GT5 that hopefully will last years.

But not too many years. I want Polyphony to realize their fanbase is dwindling and start bringing people in with their next game, and I'd rather see that happen sooner than later. Keep in all the difficulty at the final level just like GT fans want, but let a wider range of gamers slowly step up to it, rewarding them along the way.
1/16/2011 09:05:41 PM
Posted by Axe99
Power to ya on not caving in to the popular trend on Demon's Souls. As for mass appeal, whatever the trends show (see below), GT5's sold something like five million or something units since launching just under two months ago. If that doesn't qualify for mass appeal, then there's little hope for anything! When I say niche games, I'm more talking about Ferrari Challenge (140,000 estimated sold on PS3), or Apache Air Assault (80,000-odd). GT5 is within kicking distance of Halo:ODST at the moment, with far less time on the market. The Fanbase is definitely dwindling, but I'm not sure that's partly because part of the fanbase was interested in more of an arcade/sim mix like Forza or NFS:Shift, which wasn't really available back when GT5 came out.

I do agree that if PD want to maintain the mass appeal then they need to make the game more accessible, and hold gamers' hands a bit more, because that's what people are used to these days, and many current gamers don't know anything different (and are thus completely at a loss when confronted with something like GT5). They need to give the Sunday Cup and beginner events a bit more of an edge, and I think it wouldn't hurt them to give the game a clearer (but still malleable) structure, and maybe some personality as well. Probably the biggest thing they need to sort (in my opinion) is the balancing of the races - I've been playing GT long enough to have a good idea of what to drive in a particular race to have the challenge I want, but newcomers to the series, or to racing more generally, can struggle mightily with this. Once you hit the track, though, in my view GT5 is unparalleled - it's easily the racer I've enjoyed the most since GT4, and I've played Dirt 2, NFS:Shift, Ferrari Challenge (second fave since GT4) and a few other odds and sods as well. Would have played Forza, but don't have enough time to play all the PS3 games I want to, so doesn't make any sense to fork out the extra cash for a 360 until I win the lottery and can stop working ;).

*As for the trends, GT sales peaked with GT3, and declined for GT4 and look like they might be lower again for GT5. It hasn't been a decline since the first, but more of a sawtooth (first release each gen sells more than the sequel) - but GT5's only been on the market for two months, and still got the chance to sell plenty more before it's superceded.
1/18/2011 02:11:33 AM
Posted by Finger
I've hit the track in GT5 after having played others (including GT PSP, which I really enjoyed), and everything is just too convoluted, locked, and hidden behind many hours of annoyance and frustration. Maybe if I only bought two games a year, and one was GT5, and I knew that to get my money's worth out of it I had to sit there and play it for weeks, eventually I would feel the same as you. (Not saying that's where you came from, but I'm betting there are more than a few who are like that.)

As far as the sales of GT games in the past, this chart contradicts what you say: http://i56.tinypic.com/hwhmhg.png

I did just recently see that GT5 has sold over 5 million copies; it's just that over 70% of those sales were in Europe, which isn't tracked by NPD. So it's good to see the franchise is alive and well... but I'm frustrated that such an inaccessible game is rewarding PD the most.

As far as arcade/sim mix, NFS:Shift is definitely more towards arcade than Forza to me, and Forza pretty close to GT5 over on the sim side - with a slightly less accurate modeling of handling here and there, and in Forza the AI can be turned down and the assists do more when you turn them on. Oh, and that atrocity called the rewind is there, helping people learn which apparently GT players hate if people can do it in seconds rather than minutes or hours.

It's kind of funny, because the ex-Simbin guys that contributed to NFS:Shift used to make much more serious PC sims than any console racing game.
1/18/2011 02:15:42 AM
Posted by Finger
Ah, again, worldwide versus US sales. Found a chart that shows what you're talking about.

I dunno, I'm looking forward to Forza 4 and hopefully we'll get to see even more realism that we can dig into later in the game.
1/19/2011 04:51:29 AM
Posted by Axe99
Aye, no shame in not getting into GT5 - it's deffo not for everyone. I just had a session where a bunch of us had a 3-lap race around Nurburgring in the day in tuned Prius (for a lark) than the same at night in Zonda '09 race cars. Didn't need to change lobbies, no issues joining, and it was less clicks to get into a game than to party up and get into an online game in CoD:BO. Not saying that's for everyone, but of all the racers I've played, GT5's online options are by far the deepest (although they do take some learning).

You're dead right about Slightly Mad and their heritage - I sometimes wonder whether they feel a little dirty for keeping talking up the Shift series as a sim ;).

As for me, I play a stack of different games - my favourites last year were GT5 (bet you're surprised, not!), Apache Air Assault, RUSE and MAG, but also played a fair bit of BC2, Skate 3, ModNation Racers, NFS:Shift, Dirt 2 (was late to the party on those two), RDR, Fallout 3, Dragon Age, Op Flash: Dragon Rising and a bunch of others. I'm no PS3 exclusive fanboy - up until GT5 released, RUSE was my fave for 2010 - but I've honestly enjoyed GT5 more than every other game I've listed.

Good luck with Forza - other than the Kinect stuff (I can't see it being as good as a wheel), early signs are really good, and I'm personally glad it exists, because quality competition = better games, and GT5 could definitely be more accessible ;).
1/19/2011 03:46:27 PM
Posted by Finger
If Turn 10 wants Forza 4 to compete with GT5 seriously, they do need to get a better steering wheel out there. Frankly, they should push Microsoft to work with Logitech either on G27 compatibility, or possibly to make a new wheel. I have the top of the line Microsoft wheel, and it sucks compared to even this years-old Logitech G25, yet no Logitech wheel works with the 360 due to all that peripheral licensing crap that MS has imposed on the industry.

(Yeah, the Kinect control method is going to suck, and I can't imagine it'll even be terribly interesting when poking around the cars to inspect them.)

Thing is, Shift is not that far from being a sim, or at least that's the case on PC (I didn't play it on PS3). I had a decent amount of fun with it and the driving model was clearly simplified, but they could easily expand that out in a separate mode for Shift 2 if they feel like it. Beyond that, Shift's gameplay systems for things like the "dirty overtake" (hitting a guy when passing him) should result in a punishment, not a reward. Or at least, they could again add some kind of hardcore mode that people can toggle.
1/23/2011 02:17:16 PM
Posted by Axe99
Aye, the physics in the original Shift were solid - they weren't up the to standards of GT5 or Ferrari Challenge, but they were an enjoyable driver. What got me was the overly aggressive AI.

Just saw a trailer for Shift 2 with some pack racing in it and it actually looked quite promising. Clearly early days yet, but it looks like they made a teaser trailer for the NFS (classic) fans and then a gameplay trailer for the GT/Forza fans, lol! I daresay I'll give it a run either way, I'll just have to wait until whether I get into it to know if I'm playing dodgem karts or actual racing, but signs are looking better that they making a sim-style racer this time around :).
3/31/2011 07:23:12 AM
Posted by cnart216
your supposed to play a game for weeks before you review it. Must be a kid writing this review who needs someone to hold is hand. I guess you would rather play gt5 for a week and beat the game instead of enjoying a sim that takes time to finish. Gt never had rewind and they still dont. But now you wanna complain about it. You need to stick with mario cart or your psp gt....lol its people like you who tarnish good things just because (you) dont like something instead of looking at the bigger picture 4 what the game is worth. Mod nation racers friend

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