[Hands On] Gran Turismo 6 – GT Academy 2013 Demo

ESRB:E
ONLINE:Leaderboards for the Qualifying Events
INSTALL:1,072 MB
RELEASE DATE:July 2, 2013
PLATFORM:Playstation 3
PUBLISHER:Sony Computer Entertainment
DEVELOPER:Polyphony Digital
ONLINE PASS:N/A

So, Polyphony Digital have finally released the Gran Turismo 6 demo – in the form of a GT Academy contest [Much like they did with GT5]. I’ve spent a couple of hours with it so far, putting the new physics and tire models through their paces.

I reviewed Gran Turismo 5 a while back – how does GT6 stack up to it at this point in time?

The Career

This demo/event is actually pretty robust. It starts out with you taking a lap around Silverstone in a Nissan 370Z. No objectives – this is purely to get you acquainted with the controls and the new physics. Your mentor for the extent of this career – which spans 4 events, each with multiple races within them – is Lucas Ordóñez, winner of GT Academy in 2008.

There’s no voice work by him, and his messages are text based – but if this is anything like the final game, then it’s a step in the right direction. This feels more like a career than any of the previous GT titles. I really hope it stays this way for the main game – maybe with added voice work.

There are only 4 cars available – the Nissan Leaf, 370Z, 370Z Tuned, and the GT-R Black Edition. All of them are dressed in GT Academy decals.

The career spans multiple events – culminating in a qualifying event for the actual GT Academy. The first 2 events – Sunday and Clubman Cups – are each 2 races long, and are One-Make events. Sunday Cup features the Nissan Leaf, Clubman uses the Nissan 370Z. All of the vehicles in the race are the same – same car, same rating.

The “final” event is a series of 5 time trials at Silverstone – 4 of these are specific sections of the track, the last round is a time trial of the full track, and serves as the qualifying entry round [The top 32 times at the end of this event go on to the real GT Academy]. This event uses the 370Z Tuned car.

I do wish it would’ve covered a little more of the game – maybe a drift event of some sort – but what’s here gives you a good taste of what to expect.

Once you finish the final round, you unlock one more event – a couple more time trials at Silverstone, featuring the Nissan GT-R Black Edition. Two of these events are available outright – with a third scheduled to unlock once the qualifiers are over [Maybe this will be a drift event. I don’t actually know.].

The events themselves have PP limits [Performance Points] – this is something the GT5 career desperately needed – as the career events are as hard as you want them to be in that title. You could purchase a high end car, and blow past the competition like it was nothing. Not here, though, and I really hope Gran Turismo 6 keeps this for the offline game.

Overall, I like how this “career” felt – and I really hope the main game is handled in much the same way.

What’s New?

So, what makes Gran Turismo 6 any different to it’s predecessor? Actually, quite a bit. Some of the differences are fairly obvious – others, not so much.

Load times are much, much faster. Granted, this could just be because it’s a limited demo running off the hard drive – but the game barely took any time to load between races. It also doesn’t have that annoying “wait for the names to light up before you start” issue GT5 seems to have.

The menu is much cleaner – the overall UI is much nicer. It’s clear, it’s simple, and it gets the job done. I really hope the main game keeps this look. I especially like the drop down start menu. This allows you to access options, save, view the manual and choose a car before you select your event, at any time. However, once you’ve chosen your event, that’s it – your choice is locked. It would be nice if we could change cars even then, but I can understand that might be a little difficult.

The physics of the car are much better as well. They feel more “alive”. Cars have more pronounced body roll now as well – body roll that you not only see on screen, but feel in the handling. You can feel the weight of the car shift as it turns much better than in the previous game.

Overall this just “feels” better than GT5 – a lot better.

Presentation

This is where the improvements are lesser. Unlike previous sequels, which were leaps beyond their predecessors – Gran Turismo 6 doesn’t improve much on GT5’s visuals. The framerate is smoother, the lighting is better, and the colors feel a bit more vibrant – but the actual fidelity of the visuals isn’t much better.

That being said – I can’t say anything about the former “Standard” cars in GT5, as none of those cars make an appearance in the demo.

Tracks are well detailed, but the stands are empty. This could be because these events aren’t “real” races – but after playing GRID 2, seeing empty stands is a bit disappointing.

Damage seems to be turned off for this demo – so I can’t speak on how it looks this time around.

In the sound department – the cars that are here do sound improved over their GT5 counterparts. There appears to be a bit more bass added to the engines – but it’s not over done like in some other titles. Hopefully the sounds have been improved for when you upgrade the cars as well.

Music wise, there’s nothing new here. Literally – the music used in the demo is from GT5. Not a big deal – as they probably couldn’t get the new tracks in time. But I do hope the final game has actual new music.

In regards to music – I also hope that Gran Turismo 6 has a better in-game music UI. GT5’s was a bit lackluster [Just choosing a playlist from your hard drive, using the PS3’s default scheme.]

The Verdict

So far, GT6 looks to make improvements in all the right places. The career in this demo – despite only being a few short events – is more well put together than any GT before it, and I can only hope and pray that the final game is just as well done.

The menus are much more responsive and easier to read – as is important information relative to your event [Time of day on the course, target times, etc.] everything in this regard is leaps and bounds above GT5 – despite not looking much better than GT5.5.

If this demo is anything at all like the final game, then we may just be in for the best GT, not only on the PS3, but quite possibly ever.

Gran Turismo 6 is due out later this year.

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PROS CONS
  • Physics feel great.
  • "Career" feels much better than before.
  • Soundtrack is just recycled songs from GT5.
  • Visuals aren't much improved over 5.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    James is an aspiring game reviewer that plays primarily on the Playstation 3 & 4. He also works freelance as a graphic designer, doing print and branding based design.
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