[GAMES 10] Gran Turismo 5 Hands-on Impressions
Giving Polyphony Digital’s highly anticipated title a test drive.
Of all the titles that are on showcase at this year’s GAMES expo, the one I was most looking forward to getting hands-on time with was Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5. It’s been five years since Gran Turismo 4 was released on the PS2 and while Gran Turismo 5 Prologue may have scratched the racing sim itch, it was nothing more than an extended demo. So with a release imminent in November, does GT 5 roar like the V12 beast it’s been built up to be or does it simply fail to live up to expectations?
To my disappointment, my time with the game was more of an underwhelming experience than anything else. However, that’s not really due to any apparent fault of the game itself, as you’ll soon find out.
You can try all of the game demos at the show and I assure you, you will not find one as brief as that of GT5. Incomprehensibly, you only get about two minutes of play time before the demo abruptly ends. It’s nigh impossible to get a proper feel of the game in that short span of time. Rejoining the waiting line for another uber quick go at the game doesn’t make for a convenient experience either. You can forget about completing even a lap on any of the courses in that kind of time, especially given the erratic nature of the Logitech steering wheels that were fitted into the demo pod. Feedback rumble from the wheels was unnecessarily high, so much so that I found the wheel would loosen itself from its fixed position. You would be forgiven for thinking you were driving a bus rather than a nimble sports car. This is only compounded by the fact that GT5, like all previous Gran Turismo games before it, is a pretty demanding racing game in itself. Needless to say, most (including me) spent the majority of the two minutes of demo time losing control, skirting barries and crashing.
These frustrating annoyances aside, the game itself is everything you would expect it to be – a supremely polished title that gushes with authenticity and detail. Unsurprisingly, Polyphony have outdone themselves again with the visuals. Car models are spectacularly detailed, and combined with the superb shadow and light effects, they give a new meaning to the term photo-realism. It’s a bit of a letdown though to see damage rarely go beyond the superficial scratches and bumper detachment. Like the cars, the courses featured in the demo definitely look the part. Five are selectable, including the new Rome and Toscana tracks (the former features a wonderfully detailed rendition of the colosseum), as well as old favourites, the Nurburgring Nordschleife and Tokyo Route 246. Driving through the Toscana rally track gives you the chance to witness a day to night transition, which is nothing short of impressive.
As far as actual gameplay goes, disappointing steering setup aside, GT5 continues in the tradition of its predecessors, demanding your utmost concentration and providing an authentic and challenging driving experience. Successfully pulling off a turn still gives you that old feeling of satisfaction that is characteristic of all Gran Turismo games. Of course it’s far from easy, requiring a delicate balance between acceleration and braking as you move around an apex. Accelerate too early out of a corner and you run the risk of spinning out of control, brake too late on approach and you’ll either go off track or crash into a barrier. There really is no room for error.
My time with Gran Turismo 5 was admittedly brief and for the most part, frustrating. However, none of that should be attributed to the game itself, which, as you would expect from Kazunori Yamauchi’s team at Polyphony Digital, looks absolutely stunning and is as challenging to play as ever. With more features still being announced and a robust range of online modes to be included, GT5 is definitely shaping up to be the most comprehensive game of its kind.