Gran Turismo 5, Part 3 (Odds and Ends)

I’d like to just comment on a few things that a player should know before going into this.

Premium vs. Standard Cars

GT5 delivers over 1000 cars to its fans, as it always has.  But this feature has a bit of an asterisk next to it, as many of the cars are “standard.”   Up close, a standard car looks like a higher end texture filter applied to a PS2 quality graphic.  It shows sometimes more than others, but the first thing you’ll notice is how these cars don’t have the cockpit view option.  Damage is also visibly lessened on these machiens (although with premium cars it isn’t much more detailed to be honest).  Ultimately the lack of graphics doesn’t bother me so much, with the only exception being how random it is sometimes it is in which cars are considered premium or not.

Take for example, the Formula GT.  This is a cross between an Indy car and a Formula 1 car.  I’m assuming PDI could not get affordable licensing for Formula 1, so we’re stuck with a knockoff.  For those of you who have made it all the way up the ladder to level 20 and beyond, you are probably aware these are fastest cars in the game.  Nothing comes close.  Finishing the Extreme class of races (levels 20-25, at 25 you unlock Endurance races) has a player going through the Formula GT event to get some major leveling points.  There is only one car you can have in this race, and that’s the Formula GT car (which as I explained in Part 2, is a huge pain to actually get with a $5 million pricetag and a peculiar procurement system involved).  SO, you’d figure that this one car, the fastest car in the game, would be premium?  Well, it’s not.  Granted, it’s not a real car, but it seems to be an important part of the game, and there just was no follow-through.

I found myself frequently driving high end cars that fell outside the premium classification.  Granted choice and options are abound when a player has literally hundreds of cars to chose from, but when there are clear choices intended for certain events, it’s like PDI blew a chance to impress a player and didn’t care.

Menus/Upgrading/Explaining Things

Menus are frustrating, and frequently when you switch out of A-Spec or B-Spec mode to go back to the GT Home menu, the game takes a long time to save/load and it seems to have frozen.  I can’t figure out what’s so memory intensive about a menu, but then again I’m not a programmer.

Upgrading cars is the same as before, a lot of tedious menus.  One obvious upgrade for the future could be a “do whatever you can” one click mod, where you can avoid having to select 100 of the same part over and over again for each car.  One of the most random features is the “Racing Modifications” upgrade; a feature that is only available for like 6 cars in the game and does all these bonus mods that is never explained.  I was surprised with the number of patches for this game that these processes can’t be sped up.  Seems like an easy fix.

Never explained might be another issue that needs tending.  GT always took the time to educate drivers on how to draft, how to drive a RWD car vs. a 4WD car, but was always light on explaining how to tune, when to pit in, or how to work B-Spec at all.  Although the tuning interface now explains what each setting does inside the actual menu, it doesn’t explain it with enough detail to be that usable.  I frequently find myself googling particular races in order to see what settings other players think is ideal for winning.  Sometimes it’s not that intuitive.  A tuning tutorial would be much appreciated and easy to execute.  There is this level out there of playing when you get to the ubercar or the LeMans car, and you just have no idea how to drive it, or tune it, or what it should be doing, and it’s frustrating.  This lack of support even extends to the license tests, which for some reason exclude high powered LeMans racers or the Formula GT car entirely.  Again, this underscores the utter emphasis that Gran Turismo 5 puts on just pure driving, but that view overlooks the off-the road mastery the game demands players to have to win.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this is the worst game that I can’t possibly ever say I’m finished with.  I’m going to keep playing for a long time.  I WILL complete 24 hours of something, maybe, maybe someday if I take a few days off from work.  Still, there were some obvious chances here to make this game experience much better that were missed by PDI.  Other reviews have touched on the poor menu interface and slow loading.  There is even a review out there that broke about the short cuts taken with the graphics and noted the duplicated bushes that can be found on Circuit de la Sarthe (although to PDI’s credit, you would never know it because you’re always going down that particular road at over 200mph).  I’d like to point out the bland soundtrack, unimpressive videos, and thrown together “Special Events” categories (Jeff Gordon should sue for how bad the animation makes him look).  It’s still the same magic I saw over 10 years ago when I first played GT2, a hypnotic mix of realism, skill and determination that make it a super time waster.  Also keep in mind that this review TOTALLY excludes online play, which maybe I will dabble in someday.  Besides that, there is that hybrid level of connectedness that this game offers, already Sony is giving us new events, new cars, and new songs for the soundtrack with the regular updates.  Despite being a brilliant piece of nonstandard marketing for car companies, this type of support brings GT5 to the head of the pack in delivering bang for the buck (I should note that so far there is no pay to play DLC, which is something they could definitely get away with and decided not to).

The right thing for a person to do when evaluating whether they want to start playing this game or not isn’t to read the reviews though, it would be to go back and read GT3 or GT4 reviews and see how good those are.  That might be the best thing to do.  If you want to wiki the top selling PS2 games of all times, both those games are in the top 5…