Gran Turismo 5 review
But where Gran Turismo usually impresses is in the detail of its selection, and car enthusiasts will find some absolute gems to delight and surprise them. Would you have expected to find a 1970 Chaparral 2J race car in there? Probably not – it’s the kind of astute automotive inclusion Polyphony always seems to throw in.
If the detailed selection is impressive, the quality of the cars themselves is less so. Some 200 are ‘Premium’ versions, meaning they’ve been specifically built from scratch for GT5. This means they enjoy gorgeously recreated cockpits, fully working wipers, headlights and even a horn (you earn items throughout the game, horn sounds being one of them). Their exteriors also look fabulous, in-game, in-menu and in-replay.
The remaining 800-odd machines suffer a different fate, however. Imported from GT4 and given a quick graphical once-over, the visuals of these ‘Standard’ models can vary considerably. In-game this isn’t much of an issue if, one hopes, you drive using the dashboard view (no cockpit recreations for these, of course). But during replays, one or two can look more than a little out of place.
That said, the majority are fine, and even some of the rougher models wear their jagged bodywork with some style. For instance, I’ve grown remarkably fond of the blocky-looking 1987 Mugen Civic Si racing machine that I was awarded in an early competition.
A lot of that love comes from the handling model. A subtle evolution from the exceptional dynamics of GT5 Prologue, it’s in phenomenal form, with a degree of feedback through the DualShock3 that exquisitely details characteristics such as tyre grip, suspension load and weight transfer. (Plug in a Logitech wheel and, remarkably, you enhance the experience more.) The latter is best appreciated during braking, when you’d swear you can feel the backend dancing around before you force it ever-so-slightly wide, setting yourself up for turning into the corner.
I could talk for hours about the handling, but the quickest way to convey its brilliance is to say that you quickly catch yourself driving through instinct. If that sounds obvious, it really isn’t. Very few games outside of the Gran Turismo series ever achieve this level of control, and no GT game has done it this naturally.
True, superlative handling is expected from a GT title, but there are other elements that fans of the franchise keep hoping will get dragged along with the evolution.
Polyphony has worked on improving the AI and implementing damage, but you’ll only notice once you get deeper into the game as both of these develop alongside your progress. Even then, neither is up to today’s standards, alas, but the AI in particular is sufficiently advanced to display just enough personality to turn later races into genuinely enjoyable contests.