193 Reviews

Gran Turismo 5

Worth its wait in gold?

Gran Turismo fans are the kicked puppies of the videogames industry. They wait an eternity for every single instalment and, just to rub salt in that gaping wound, have to endure more delays than a Sunday rail service.

At least when Yamauchi-san finally gets round to hoofing it out of the door, the fans get exactly what they want - yet another Gran Turismo game.

If you're expecting GT5's game mechanic to jump out from behind a tyre wall and surprise you, then you're going to be sorely disappointed. As with every other game in the series, this is further refinement of the principles laid out in 1997's Gran Turismo.

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It feels like GT as a whole is a never-ending production line and that every few years Sony finally forces Yamauchi at gun point to stick what he's got at the time in a box.

AUTO EROTICA
As you'd expect, GT5 is rammed with content. There's more flavours of Skyline than you'd ever care to drive, a hefty dollop of circuits, both real and fictional, and the time-honoured GT Life structure to hold it all together. GT5 still does the thrill of car ownership better than any other game and it grips you early on. Our heroic Alfa Brera that carried us to victory in a series of the intermediate cups is now a member of the family just as revered as Grandma.

The more cars available - and GT5 has over 1,000 in its crowded garage - the more personal each buying decision becomes. It helps that they're all so much fun to drive now - the physics have been given a considerable overhaul, even since GT Prologue. Gone is the horrendous global understeer for road cars and on rails handling for racers in favour of rear wheel drive cars that break grip convincingly and can be played with.

It's genuinely enough of a change that the rally cars have gone from undriveable - as they were in GT4 - to one of the highlights of the game. Every single vehicle benefits in some way from one of the most sophisticated and plausible handling models in any console game.

In fact, the rally cars feature in one of the more interesting elements of the game, the special events menu. Unlocked as you progress through the driver levels, this is where you'll blast around the Top Gear Test Track for the first time, learn how to drive a NASCAR and razz around in the raucously fun go-karts.

The win conditions for each are slightly different, and you unlock more demanding challenges in each section as you progress throughout the entire career. Every time you unlock a new stage, it's a chance to go back and enjoy some of GT5's showpiece content.

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ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
The beating heart of GT5 is strong then - it has been for years. That's a good thing, because on the periphery, cracks are starting to appear.

For a start - and hear us out here - this is the first GT game NOT to blow our trousers off in the visuals department. In fact, as you roll out of the pits for the first time, you'll look at the environment and hear a nagging voice in the back of your mind. That voice will be saying 'this isn't a very pretty game'.

No, we're not mad: there's no flair to GT5's graphics like in Codemasters' games, it's all cold, clinical precision. The problem is, if you slavishly attempt to replicate real life, like Polyphony has, it's all the more obvious when you can't quite get there. Blurry textures, angular scenery and barren landscapes are, if you'll excuse the pun, par for the course.

While the premium cars are undeniably gloriously detailed, they look entirely out of place in such drab environments, surrounded by cardboard cut-out trees. City tracks fare better, but only just.

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