Polyphony Digital has finally unveiled it’s latest instalment of the critically acclaimed Gran Turismo series. Does the much anticipated sixth edition live up to its expectations?
Before I delve into my first thoughts of GT6, I must let you know that I do not own the game, and neither do I own Forza 5. All the judgements I make on this game are based on watching excessive amounts of gameplay videos (too many I must say) and listening to what people have had to say, as well as comparing it to it’s predecessor, GT5; a game that I do happen to own.
That said, I’ll cut to the chase right away and say that I’m a bit disappointed with Gran Turismo 6. If Polyphony Digital had the choice of going radical and risky or traditional and safe, then I must say it has gone for the latter. ‘If its not broken, don’t fix it’, you might say, and I do agree to some extent; Gran Turismo always had one of the best physics engines in the genre, and GT6 rightfully adopts it. However, when it is quite apparent that the jump from the previous instalment is almost non-existent, maintaining the old recipe just doesn’t cut it any more, especially with Turn 10 snatching on the heels.
In case you were wondering, the picture shown at the top of this article is not from GT6; it is a real-life image. If GT6 had such visuals, then I’ll probably be able to overlook all of its other drawbacks. Speaking of visuals, the game has improved marginally, and only marginally, in terms of image sharpness and overall quality. GT5 was able to squeeze out all the available processing power of the Playstation 3, ergo any improvements would be regarded as an impressive feat on what is known to be outdated hardware. Flimsy shadows still maintain a presence, however, and most textures seen around the tracks will be very familiar to GT5 players.
Lets talk cars. GT6 has over a 1000 cars to choose from. Yes, at first sight, that seems like a total win. However, boot up the game and you realise that at least 800 are exact replicas of those that were in GT5. Not to mention the continuing trend of having dozens of Mazda Miatas or RX-7s, each representing a different model, but all fairly identical cars that don’t display anywhere near enough variety to distinguish them as separate cars. As opposed to GT5, ‘premium’ and ‘standard’ cars are no longer segregated, but that only applies to where you can buy them from. All the cars are up for purchase in one ‘Dealership’ section this time around, but that’s about the only change. The standard cars still have the same poor textures, are an overwhelming majority of the total cars available, and still maintain that infamous silhouette cockpit view. Considering all these factors, GT6’s massive car collection doesn’t seem as appealing as it may sound.
Sound design in Gran Turismo 6 is a tale of two cities. On one hand, the menu music is, as it has always been, a perfect match for a car game like GT. The relaxing, lounge tones are certainly one of the game’s strong points, and although come racing time the ‘hardcore’ players will often turn it down to enjoy the engine’s ‘roar’, it is a delicate addition that makes navigating the new and improved dashboard a much more pleasant experience. On the other hand, the sound effects during the races leave much to be desired. Dubbed by the community as sounding like vacuum cleaners, little improvements have been made to the way the cars sound. Plainly put, if you didn’t enjoy the engine sounds in GT5, you most definitely won’t enjoy them in GT6.
Most of the all-time favourite circuits in GT5 have made a return. Nurburgring, Spa Francorchamps, Suzuka and Circuit de la Sarthe all make a welcome return to the franchise, and are available right from the get-go. Although the Top Gear test-track has gone missing from the roster, Siverstone, Brands Hatch and Willow Springs make a debut appearance in the franchise. Furthermore, a special event lets you drive around at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; a neat touch. Another special even lets you drive on the moon. Yes, you didn’t mis-read that. You drive a moon buggy on the craters of our moon, haplessly bouncing off ridges and what have you, but honestly, the less said about it the better. Overall, however, it has to be said that the game’s track selection are one of it’s strong features. The new tracks will likely to fall in favour with the community, and the retained ones will keep those who were previously hooked coming back for more.
I can go on and on and on about Gran Turismo 6, but I have to say, for me, the drawbacks outweigh the improvements. This is particularly exacerbated when you look at what the competition has to offer. Yes, Forza 5 runs on a much advanced piece of technology, but the gaming business has no room for excuses. Maybe PD has made a huge mistake on not jumping on the next-gen bandwagon with GT6. Some of the decisions that have been made are quite brain-scratchers as well. Why can they not design a set of generic cockpits that are to be applied to the ‘standard’ cars? Surely that would be a much better alternative to the concurrent solution. Also, I wonder who came up with the idea of the moon buggy. Honestly, what on earth (pun intended) popped up in their R&D meeting that told them that they need to design an outer space experience (yep I did it again)? Surely, the fans of the ‘real driving simulator’ would be much better off with the resources to be spent elsewhere, whether in adding new bundles of touring cars or improving the engine sound design.
I still haven’t discussed the hopeless computer-controlled AI that was pretty much untouched, or the stale career mode that has gone out of fashion for a long time now, but this article as already getting out of hand. All in all, as a true fan of the Gran Turismo franchise, this one is yet to convince me. I may pick it up later on, when it’s price drops to the point where I feel like I’m getting value for my money, but until then, it makes me sad to say that I’ll be looking elsewhere…