Gran Turismo 5

ESRB:E
ONLINE:2-16 Players [2 Players Offline]
INSTALL:Yes [2GB Mandatory | 9+GB After Optional Full Install]
RELEASE DATE:November 24, 2010 [PS3]
PLATFORM:Playstation 3
PUBLISHER:Sony Computer Entertainment
DEVELOPER:Polyphony Digital
ONLINE PASS:N/A

Note that I will not be reviewing the 3D features of the game – I do not own, or have access to, a 3D enabled television.

Gameplay

Let’s get this out of the way first: Do not get this game if you are not into simulation styled racers. It won’t change your opinion of them.

That said, if you enjoy simulation racers, or want to get into them – this is a pretty good place to start. The game itself plays great whether you’re using a wheel, or a DualShock controller. There are a ton of options when it comes to customizing your cars, and there are a ton of cars to choose from.

This also isn’t a game solely about racing – it’s, just like it’s namesake, a driving simulator. This game is more about encompassing the entirety of car culture – tuning, the history of the cars & manufacturers, and just overall giving the feel of what it’s like to get behind the wheel of one of these machines.

The game is split, essentially, into two modes. GT Life, and Arcade. There’s also a Course Creator mode, where you can create and tweak your own race courses, as well as the GTTV mode that was present in Prologue, which offers free and paid downloadable videos that relate to the racing world, and Gran Turismo.

The AI in the game is better than it has been in previous titles. The drivers make mistakes, drive in packs, draft each other, etc. But they still seem to have an uncanny knack for taking the best line through a course – and they still seem to pretty much ignore you and your position in relation to themselves.

After recent updates, the AI is much better. They guage their position and how close they are to you much better, and do their best to avoid you when they can, such as in the apex of a corner.

Let’s start off by talking about the different modes GT5 offers. First up, is GT Life.

GT Life is pretty much the meat & potatoes of GT5 – this is your career & pretty much everything else mode. You enter races, purchase and upgrade cars, compete in Special Events, set up online matches, and just about anything else that doesn’t relate to Arcade mode.

License Tests make their return yet again – but this time they aren’t mandatory, though completing them can definitely be a good help – you can earn experience from them, as well as get cars to start you off with.

GT Life’s career mode is further split into two separate modes. A-Spec, & B-Spec.

Both modes feature the same races, with some minor differences between them usually, like tire restrictions, and number of laps. Both modes also earn experience and credits that go towards unlocking new cars.

Cars that are a certain level can only be driven/purchased when you reach that level in either A-Spec or B-Spec.

A-Spec mode lets you drive your vehicle of choice in a multitude of races with different restrictions/requirements. Some require you to use a specific vehicle, some need a vehicle from a certain year/decade, and others require a vehicle from a certain country.

None of the A-Spec races limit how powerful your vehicle can be, however. And this can remove some of the challenge if you let it – though some races will be difficult no matter what. You can pretty much choose how tough you want the race to be, by how much you over power your car for the competition.

It’s your choice – be competitive in the Sunday Cup with a stock Civic, or blow them away in a fully Race Modified Corvette ZR1.

B-Spec allows you to control a team of AI drivers that you create, for the most part. It’s pretty limited, unfortunately, and the AI doesn’t always do what you tell it to.

This mode also suffers from the same issues as A-Spec – it’s as hard or as easy as you want. Give your driver an overpowered car, and he’ll pretty much blow past any competition ( He drives whatever car you have currently selected as your “Current Car” ).

The races here are also much longer than their A-Spec counterparts – even the beginning races, like Sunday Cup.

As of update 1.05, a new “Seasonal Events” mode was added – here the people at Polyphony host special races, like time trials, drift trials and bonus races. Time Trials and Drift Trials are pretty straight forward – just try to set the best score/time you can using a vehicle within the set restrictions.

Bonus races, though, are something different. These are races where you can earn an ungodly amount of money and experience for each race. The reason being – you earn all of the rewards up to the place you finished in.

So, say a race had 8 rewards for positions 1 through 8. If you finished 4th – you would earn the rewards for 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th place in one lump sum. However, you can only earn each place’s reward ONCE. So, if you did the race again, and came in the same place – you would earn nothing.

Each race afterward you would have to place better than the last.

At first, these races had very strict rules – using a certain car, with a very specific limit on Horsepower, and limits on tires. Now though, they are like the rest of the races in the game – you can make them as hard or as easy as you want.

Basically just a way to earn some quick credits to buy more cars and tune them.

These “Win to earn all prizes” style races are now gone as of Spec 2, and have been replaced with races similar to those you find in the main career – you earn a set amount for whatever place you finish in, and you can repeat races as many times as you want.

They have also gone back to the strict limitations on cars, requiring your cars to use specific tires and having a set amount of “Performance Points”. Also new is a “Performance Difference Bonus” that rewards you more for using a car that has fewer Performance Points than the maximum.

The bigger the gap between you and the competition, the more Experience and Credits you earn – even doubling if the difference is big enough!

The Dealership is where you’ll go when you want to purchase a new, Premium vehicle. Premium meaning that these cars all have their interiors fully modeled [More on that later].

There are a ton of Manufacturers available here, from aftermarket dealers like HKS and AEM, to flagship dealers like Chevy or Mazda, and pretty much everything in between.

There are plenty of cars to choose from as well. From the Daihatsu Midget, to the Bugatti Veyron. You name it, it’s probably here in some form.

The Used Car Dealership is where you go to find rarer, standard model cars – these are cars that aren’t as detailed as the premium vehicles, and they lack an interior view.

As of update 1.05 and onward, there is a new, Online dealership as well. This dealer also sells standard model cars, but they are usually much harder to find vehicles, and often relate to the Special Events or GT Life events that call for a specific vehicle.

Practice is where you’ll take your current car out for a test drive around any of the tracks you’ve unlocked. Here, you can participate in Time Trials, Drift Trials or an A-Spec One Make race.

Time Trials are where you’ll go when you want to try and set your best times on a given track. This is where you’ll do your testing of different setups for your car, and see how they perform.

Drift Trials come in two flavors – Sector & Lap.

Sector mode takes a section of track, and lets you drift through different “sectors” of that section. Lap mode lefts you drift around the track in it’s entirety.

A-Spec One Make lets you compete in a race against a field of the same car as the one you’re driving. There’s no reward here – it’s basically just a means of seeing how well your car might perform in an actual race.

The Tuning Shop is where you’ll go to buy upgrades for your car – I’ll talk about it more in the next section.

GT Auto is where you’ll head to give your car an oil change, give it a wash, and restore the engine and body back to like new condition. You will also be able to paint your car using any of the paint chips you acquire from purchasing/winning new cars, as well as equip aero kits and new wheels. Lastly you can perform a “Race Modification” on your car – but this list is EXTREMELY limited. Only a handful of cars out of the entire roster can have this done to them.

Special Events are races that offer a change from the A-Spec & B-Spec events. These races are unique, and offer a pretty good challenge for those looking for it. They’re fun, too.

They range from kart racing, to setting lap times in what could quite possibly be the fastest car in the world, if it were real. There’s even an event to help you learn the basics of the Nurburgring track – a Godsend if I do say so myself, as it lets you practice each section individually, in both dry and wet conditions.

GT5 now also features weather and time changing. Sort of. Certain tracks have two or 3 different versions – one dry, one with weather, and one with time changing.

I do wish this was handled better. The weather just feels random, and the time change, while in real time, doesn’t reflect the real time. I would have like to see the weather be tied to the online – pulling from satellite information for the chosen track. IE: If it’s raining in real life on the Nurburg – then it’s raining in the game.

Same for the time – if it’s 9:00PM in Germany, it’s dark – why is it still bright out in the game? If Burnout Paradise could add a real-time 24 Hour cycle for it’s world, I’m sure the guys at Polyphony could add it for a couple of tracks. It could really make the endurance events that much more realistic, too.

As of Spec 2 you can now adjust weather and time change in track settings. It makes for a little more customization, and you can make races more challenging by throwing in faster day to night transitions and more random weather effects. Of course, this is all limited to those tracks that actually feature changing time and weather.

I do still wish the tracks actually adjusted their time based on the time in the area.

New to the game are NASCAR and the WRC – and honestly, I wish they were both handled better. NASCAR is done alright – but only in the NASCAR special event. The actual race series in A/B-Spec just doesn’t feel like NASCAR. It feels like any other race series in the game, just with high powered stock cars. There’s no real feeling of danger, nor any of the rules that you see in the real sport.

Rally and WRC just feel almost non-existent in this iteration of GT. There are only a handful of rally tracks ( Eiger, Chamonix & Toscana ), and the rally events are pretty lackluster. The Sebastien Loeb event is probably the best of them both.

I’d really like to see a better integration of WRC into the game – more real world tracks instead of just the randomly generated ones ( which are fun, mind you ) in the events. As well as a return of the old rally tracks from previous GT titles – Swiss Alps, Tahiti, Grand Canyon and the like.

Thankfully, rally at least has penalties – you get engine power cut if you hit another car or bump the walls too hard, which costs you valuable time. Unfortunately, you also get penalized if they hit you.

Finally, there’s Photo Mode – this is where you can take your current, premium model car to one of any of the available locations for a photo shoot. I actually really like this mode myself, as I enjoy photography, and this game does a good job making you feel like you’re using a real camera.

There are a ton of settings you can adjust, including aperture, F-Stop and even changing photo effects ( Like giving it a sepia tone, or taking out the color of everything but the car ).

Once you’ve taken your photo, you can save it and share it with friends online ( Your photos are available online at gran-turismo.com. You can display, I believe, 8 at a time. ), or export the image to your PS3’s hard drive, where you can then print it through a PS3 supported printer, or put it on a memory stick/flash drive to put on your PC, and print.

GT’s Arcade mode is basically your “Quick Race” mode. You can select from either Time Trial, Drift Trial, Quick Race, or 2P Battle.

Time Trial and Drift Trial are the same as in GT Life. Quick Race lets you choose a difficulty ( Beginner, Advanced, Professional ), choose a track and how many laps, and a car, then go race.

2P Battle is essentially Quick Race, but one on one with you and a friend, locally. There is also no interior view in this mode, as it is split-screen.

Course creator is a pretty cool feature that lets you create your own track from a set of different locations ( Unlocked while playing the game. ), it’s a little barebones, and the tracks that are created feel a bit bare in comparison to the tracks in the main game, but it’s a decent way to always have new tracks to play. Plus you can share them with your friends online.

Now, let’s talk car customization and tuning.

This is where the game – like all of it’s predecessors – shines at it’s brightest.

There is just so much to tweak and tune, it’s ridiculous. From toe angle of the wheels, to how much downforce is applied to the front and rear of the car – it’s pretty much all here.

As of update 1.05, you can now tweak individual gear ratios, as well as adjust the car’s ballast, and it’s engine output.

The Tuning Shop mentioned above is where you’ll buy all of your upgrades. From suspension kits, to engine upgrades and everything in between.

You can upgrade the engine, suspension, exhaust, transmission, weight, everything. Most of the upgrades are even interchangeable. You can purchase multiple exhaust upgrades, and then switch between them in your cars tuning menu to suit your needs, same goes for suspension, transmission, and almost anything else.

Others are final once installed. These are upgrades like Engine Tuning, Weight Reduction, and Chassis Rigidity. Once purchased and applied, you can’t undo them. Like in real life – once you bore out a piston hole, you can’t make it any smaller again.

GT Auto features some tuning options as well. You can install aero kits on your car from this shop – things like front and rear wings, and side skirts. Not all cars can have this installed, though. And not all cars can use every part. Some can only have rear wings.

Also available is the ability to rebuild your engine, and restore your cars chassis to “like new”. These are both very, very expensive measures and should not be used unless you notice a drastic difference in your car’s performance after a long time of usage – or if you just bought the car from the used dealership and it’s got a boatload of miles on it.

You can also give your car a wash, and some people don’t realize what this is for. It’s not a useless feature, I promise you. As the game goes on, your car builds up a thin film of dirt and dust, you’ll notice because your car won’t be as shiny anymore. This actually has a slight effect on aerodynamics. Washing the car keeps that in check.

Oil changes are for when your car’s oil goes bad. If that happens, your car will take a massive hit in performance – unlike in real life where your car will likely die. You’ll start to notice after long hours of driving the car, that your it seems slower. If so – it’s probably time to hit up the oil change.

Finally, there’s the “Race Modifications” – similar to Need For Speed SHIFT’s “Works Conversion”. This is only for a select few premium model cars. It basically strips the car of every unnecessary component and turns it into a pure blooded racing machine. Once performed, all of your upgrades will be unequipped and you’ll have to head back to your tuning menu to re-equip them.

The difference this upgrade makes can be astounding – even from a fully upgraded vehicle. The interior changes, the car is even lighter, and it just feels so much better.

However, as mentioned above, there are only a very small number of cars that can actually receive this modification. It’s a bit disappointing that more cars can’t be race modified.

Presentation

This is another high point of the game. It’s freaking gorgeous.

Lights reflect off of dust, snow and burned rubber clouds.

The game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second – crucial for a racer, and is well detailed. From the cloth of the seats, to the carbon stitching of a carbon hood, there’s nothing the guys really left out.

On the premium models.

The standard model cars are another story. By no means ugly, they are certainly not as detailed as the premiums – and this becomes very apparent in races where premiums and standards are mixed together.

There are some who say these are simply cars ported from GT4 – but I don’t think that’s completely true. After all, the Bugatti Veyron, a 2009 car, appeared in GT PSP. I’m thinking they were just cars they didn’t have time to get interiors for, or couldn’t get proper licensing for, and rather than exclude them completely, which would have left the roster very thin, they put them in with lesser visuals.

As of Spec 2 – every standard car now features a simplified interior view. Some of these are quite impressive. The open top cars are essentially fully rendered, albeit, not as detailed as the premium models.

The rest have their interiors rendered in silhouette. There is no light in the car, and everything is black. A little disheartening, but by far better than nothing. It’s a step in the right direction.

New to GT, is damage, and I’m a bit disappointed. I’d rather they just exclude it.

The damage system is kind of lackluster – it’s not even really used in any of the races. Just cosmetic. While all cars feature cosmetic and mechanical damage – only some have parts that actually come off once enough damage has been taken.

As for mechanical damage – it screws up your car, as it should, but not to the point it actually shuts down. It just makes the car harder to drive. You can slam into a wall, head first going 200 MPH, and still be able to limp away from it.

It doesn’t really add much to the single player game.

Sound wise, the game is great. Cars sound the way you expect them to. A Lancer X sounds like a Lancer X. When you upgrade them, their sounds actually change – but they still sound like they should. They don’t all sound the same.

However, some ARE better than others. Premiums sound much better than standards, and some cars, when upgraded, start to sound “synthetic”.

Music-wise, the game can be a little hit and miss – it runs the gamut from techno/dance to classical piano ( Used in photo slideshows. ). There are a few tracks on the games own soundtrack that I really like, but for the most part, I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy the soundtracks of previous GT titles.

Thankfully, you can use your own music stored on the hard drive for both the game’s menus, and the actual races.

Replay Value

Replay value in this title depends on the person. If you’re the type who just likes to go through career mode, then you aren’t going to have much to do here. The career mode, though it takes some good time to get through, isn’t that robust.

However, if you’re the type who likes to do every little thing a game gives you – such as purchasing each individual car, or playing online with friends – you’ve got quite a bit of content here on this disc.

As far as the trophy hunters go, you’re in for a challenge.

I can tell you this much right off hand – this will not be an easy Platinum for most people to earn. Most of the trophies are pretty straight forward – complete the events, reach a certain threshold of items, set a certain score/time.

But some of them will either be time consuming, or just plain difficult for most.

Trophies like Gold Standard and The Official GT-R Record will take countless hours of practice, and a ton of determination to achieve.

If you’re the type who only plays a game for easy trophies – avoid this. If you’re the type who enjoys a challenge – you’ll probably enjoy this if you like racing games.

It’s not impossible ( In fact, a few people have already earned it. ), but it will give you a run for your money.

Overall

I say buy it. Granted, the game could have been better than it is, but it’s still a great game, and a very solid racer. The career can be a challenge if you make it so, and racing online is pretty fun with people who know what they are doing.

It will last you a while, with essentially never-ending online events and a pretty decent online community [especially with places like “GTPlanet“]

And frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find another simulation racer that covers such a breadth of racing disciplines. Super GT, NASCAR, Formula, Drift, everyday cars, rally – you name it. Some are featured a little more than others, but they are all represented in some way.

If you do decide to pick it up, I recommend the “XL Edition” – it comes with at least half of the DLC available right now. If you live in the UK, the “Academy Edition” is available, and comes with all of the DLC released up to now.

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PROS CONS
  • Tons of customization options.
  • Lots of gameplay modes.
  • Standard cars are noticebly worse quality.
  • UI is a bit on the confusing side.
  • Sounds could be better.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    Gamer & Fractal Artist. // Lover of giant robots & Fighting in Streets. I've been gaming for over 20 years, and writing reviews for over 10 now. ReviewHaven is my baby.
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