Gran Turismo 6 Fact Sheet

Available worldwide December 6, Gran Turismo 6 seems to be the installment in the series that Gran Turismo 5 wanted to be. Everything introduced in the previous game has been refined, and major complaints have been ironed out to create a better playing experience. Below are facts I’ve collected that I feel showcases just how significant of a racing game Gran Turismo 6 will be. Continue reading

New Super Slim PS3 Incoming?

A series of documents recently submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by Sony have been revealed by Japanese website PocketNews which seems to be detailing what appears to be a new Playstation 3 model that IGN has decided to dub the “Super Slim” PS3.

The documents reveal that the illustrated device is called the CECH-4001x. The current slim Playstation 3 is CECH-30xxB, which definitely seems to indicate that this may very well be a new model that is indeed super slim.

When will Sony reveal the device? The most likely time would be during Gamescom 2012, which will be held this year from August 15 to 19 in Cologne.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (Review)

I’m very late to the party having just played and finished Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune while most people have completed Uncharted 2 and are anxiously awaiting Uncharted 3. Even though I’m a bit behind with Uncharted, I’m still going to review Drake’s Fortune because there may be others out there who, like me, never bothered to play the Uncharted games for whatever reason and would like to know what the games are all about. Well, to my fellow PS3 owners who are late to the Uncharted party, I can safely say that it is indeed a party very much worth attending!

In Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, you play as an adventurer and treasure hunter named Nathan (Nate) Drake who claims to be the descendant of famous English explorer and navigator Sir Francis Drake. The story involves Nate tracking the foot steps of his famed ancestor in an attempt to find the legendary treasure of El Dorado. Joining Nate on his adventure is long time friend and fellow adventurer Victor “Sully” Sullivan who is never short of cigars and wise cracks, and the spunky television reporter Elena Fisher who is looking for the story of a lifetime. Unfortunately for Nate and his motley crew, rivals of both Nate and Sully find out about the plan to locate the treasure of El Dorado and decide to beat the heroes to it. If 1980s action flicks have taught us anything, it is that treasure seeking bad guys are always pricks and have an unrealistically vast amount of gun tootin’ henchmen working for them. Drake’s Fortune does not stray from this as primary antagonist Gabriel Roman employs a huge army of pirates to deter Nate and company from reaching the treasure of El Dorado.

Platforming sequences will often lead Nate up and over walls.

Undoubtedly the best part of Drake’s Fortune is the fact that the game feels like an interactive movie. The cutscenes are truly among the very best out there thanks in part to the incredible script and voice acting in this game. Nate is voiced by the never-out-of-work voicing superstar Nolan North and he certainly gets the job done here very well. Emily Rose also brings the character of Elena to life, making her easily one of the most believable and realistic video game girls out there. Sully is voiced by the awesome Richard McGonagle, who has one of the best voices in the industry by far. The three main characters are so well written and so believable that, during cutscenes, it’s not unusual to view them as actual people rather than as video game characters. This is especially the case with Emily Rose, who happens to look pretty much exactly like the character she voices. Hollywood, you’d better cast her as Elena in the Uncharted movie if you have any sense!

The supporting cast is also fantastic. While there are three protagonists, there are also three antagonists. Eddy Raja is an apparent ex-friend turned rival of Nate, Gabriel Roman is a treasure loving crimelord who loaned Sully a great deal of money (which was never paid back, hence the hostilities), and Atoq Navarro is a smug archaeologist hired by Gabriel Roman to assist him who really comes into his own later in the game. Each of the antagonists are well voiced, with many fans still loving the cocky and energetic Eddy Raja to this day. “Don’t mess with Eddy Raja!” Indeed, Eddy. Beyond the three antagonists, the only other voices players will really hear are of the pirates who under the command of Eddy and Gabriel. Most of Nate’s encounters in Drake’s Fortune will be with these pirates and, for the most part, they are well voiced. I could not help but notice that they sound a lot like the terrorist NPCs in Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the same guy did the voice work for both Uncharted’s pirates and Vegas 2’s terrorists.

The supporting cast are not only memorable, but they're also handy as AI partners.

It is 2011 now and Drake’s Fortune is probably still one of the very best looking games on the Playstation 3. While the game does show a bit of age in some areas, it is still very pretty to look at and is certainly more pleasing to the eye than even many games released this year. This is a pretty wild accomplishment for a game that is four years old! The weakest point of Uncharted’s presentation is probably in the character models themselves. Facial animations look a little unnatural at times, and there are very obvious clipping issues with hair. Elena’s blonde hairdo in particular is prone to clipping quite a bit, and it’s painfully obvious whenever you see the back of her head in a cutscene. I’m also a little displeased at exploding objects in Drake’s Fortune. At one point in the game players must navigate a jet ski up a raging river that is, for some unknown reason, littered with exploding barrels. Ignoring how odd it is that there is a neverending stream of these barrels floating down the river, when you shoot one of these barrels to make them explode, the barrel will simply vanish and be replaced by an explosion. Even for a 2007 game, this is a really tacky looking effect which I thought we started to phase out during the last generation of consoles. Aside from these minor issues, the graphics are still very good for the most part. Jungle areas in particular are incredibly detailed and beautiful to look at. A few textures here and there look a little blurry or dated, but they are incredibly easy to miss unless you play this game with the intention of nitpicking and looking for graphical flaws.

In terms of gameplay, I can pretty much say that if you’ve ever played a Tomb Raider game then you will know exactly what to expect with Drake’s Fortune. Simply replace Lara Croft with Nathan Drake and bang, you’ve got Uncharted! For better or for worse, the gameplay in Uncharted really doesn’t do anything new that we haven’t seen before. However, for everything gameplay related that Uncharted does, it does well. The gameplay can be divided up into three categories: gun fights, platforming, and puzzle solving. Since this is a third person game, the gun fights are a little tougher to get used to than they are in first person shooters and the aiming can be horrifically difficult to get used to. Making Nate point and aim his gun can be a slow process. This isn’t Resident Evil 4 or 5 where the character can whip out their gun and point it anywhere in a fraction of a second, no. Aiming Nate’s gun is a pretty slow process as he moves his arms around at a snail’s pace, if you are the kind of player who blindly charges into battle, you’re going to die because of this. Due to the aiming being fairly slow, pretty much all of your firing will be done behind cover. Pressing the circle button will make Nate leap behind any piece of cover nearby, protecting him from the endless onslaught of ammo being flung his way by Eddy’s pirate goons. The key is to find cover, wait for the pirates to stop firing, and then pop your head out and get off a few good shots. I would advise most players to go into the options and put the aiming sensitivity slider around the middle of the bar. I found that if you have the aiming sensitivity too low then aiming is pretty much as slow as molasses which doesn’t help when you have to pop out of cover to take down a sniper before he gets a headshot on you. In contrast, putting the sensitivity all the way up makes it too hard to aim well. Lining up a headshot is extremely difficult with maximum sensitivity, as even just the slightest tap of the analog stick will cause your crosshair to whip around further than you want it to.

Four years later and this game is still gorgeous. A remarkable feat by Naughty Dog.

The only other issue I have with the fire fights is that it is not uncommon to kill all enemies in the room only for half a dozen more to spill in from another entranceway. It isn’t so bad in games where reinforcements come once every five or six fights, but in Drake’s Fortune you had better expect a constant stream of reinforcements in any room that is larger than the typical school or work cafeteria. When almost every large opening or room becomes a five to ten minute long shoot out, things can become a bit tiring. Unfortunately for Drake’s Fortune, there are a lot of these rooms. Around the middle of the game when Nate is working through a series of ruins with Elena, there are several very long fire fights that really just drag on for too long. Gamers who decide to check out Drake’s Fortune primarily for the platforming and puzzle solving aspects will probably be a bit turned off with the repetitive gun fights. Thankfully, for most of the game Nate will have either Elena or Sully alongside him providing support in shoot outs. On less stressful difficulty settings, players who aren’t too exceptional at shooting games will surely love their AI partners who don’t just stand around or behave erratically like in most games of this game. Elena and Sully take appropriate cover and are pretty decent at taking down enemies on their own. It is entirely possible for the AI partners to clear out areas for less skilled players, though this would probably take a bit of time and I wouldn’t advise doing this at all unless you are a player who REALLY despises shooting games. Unfortunately for players of this kind, towards the end of the game everything is turned upside down as enemy encounters change drastically (I won’t go into details for the sake of spoilers) and you’ll be without a partner for the last few chapters. The change of pace in terms of how encounters work is actually very well done and will force pretty much everyone who plays the game to change their strategies. Everything the game teaches you essentially becomes irrelevant as the fights become completely different and it is a lot of fun adapting to the changes.

There is also melee combat which involves running up to an enemy and mashing the square and triangle buttons to perform what the game refers to as brutal combos. These are pretty unfulfilling overall and just feel really out of place for some reason that I can’t really pinpoint. I would advise avoiding melee combat if your gun skills are more than up to snuff. I’m not even close to being a good shot, but I only ran out of ammo a few times later in the game and had to backtrack for more, so the melee combat isn’t an essential aspect of the game and it can be beaten very easily without going all Rocky Balboa on every pirate you meet.

The platforming sequences are pretty much ripped straight out of Tomb Raider. Nate will scale tons of cliffs, fortress walls, and vines throughout his travels. Most of the platforming moments just involve climbing up walls, shimmying around a little bit, and jumping to adjacent walls and such to find a way past obstacles. These sequences rarely last long and are, in my opinion, very under-utilized. Drake’s Fortune could have potentially a very incredible platformer but instead we’re only treated to Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider-esque climbing moments once every twenty or thirty minutes and they rarely last longer than a minute or two. This is a shame because they’re often quite fun and I enjoyed having to stop and look around for things to climb and jump to.

Melee combat is woefully unfulfilling and most players will probably opt to use firearms.

The puzzles of Drake’s Fortune are pretty straight forward and usually just involve flicking switches. The most advanced puzzle is one around the middle of the game when you have to point four statues in different directions to open a hidden passageway. Another puzzle indicates that you have to make two large church bells ring simultaneously to proceed. Well, that would be pretty hard in any other game, but in Drake’s Fortune Nate has guns. Yeah I just ruined the bell puzzle, but even a five year old would be able to figure that one out in approximately five seconds. Drake’s Fortune has very basic puzzles that will rarely, if ever, make you stop and wonder how you are supposed to even proceed. This isn’t all that bad since it keeps up with the steady pace of the rest of the game. It goes hand in hand with the quick platforming sequences, though the overly long gun fights usually bring the steady pace to a screeching halt for a few minutes.

Overall, there is no shortage of awesome things to say about Drake’s Fortune. It isn’t without problems, but the issues this game has are extremely minor and can be overcome, if not completely forgotten, by devoted players. The game only takes about eight hours to play through, but there are dozens of hidden goodies that will be missed on the first play through the game. By finding hidden treasures littered throughout the world and performing various tasks that award trophies, players will amass medals ingame which will unlock various bonus features such as playing with fun screen effects filters, using any gun in the game whenever you want, to even playing as Elena, Sully, or any of the game’s antagonists. There’s quite a bit to do in this game besides enjoy the fantastic story. The gameplay is blast, the characters are extremely likeable and memorable, and there’s tons of hidden goodies. Fans of adventure games will find lots to love in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

Pros:
+ An unforgettable cast of characters who you’ll fall in love with.
+ Script and voice work are both among the best ever in a video game.
+ The game is still beautiful four years after release.

Cons:
– Aiming controls can be fairly sluggish.
– Melee combat feels out of place and depressingly bare-bones.
– Some shooting sequences can drag on for too long.

Final Score

9.5/10

LG to USA, “No PS3 for you!”

An interesting development has come out of a silly war between LG and Sony. The Korean company wants the Japanese manufacturer to stop selling the Playstation 3 in the US. To word it in another way that will really drive the point home, LG wants to ban distribution of the PS3 in the US. Wow.

Here’s an article from CNET (written by Don Reisinger) that details what’s going on.

LG Electronics wants the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar the import of the PlayStation 3 into the United States, according to a complaint.

The complaint, filed Friday with the ITC and first reported by Bloomberg yesterday, claims that the Blu-ray player in the PlayStation 3 violates several of LG’s patents. The company cited Sony, Sony Corporation of America, Sony Electronics, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Sony Computer Entertainment America in the complaint, according to the docket page on the ITC’s Web site.

The ITC 337 Law Blog, which is run by a private law firm, posted the complaint documents (PDF) yesterday.

According to the documents, LG said it holds two patents that it believes Sony violates in the PlayStation 3 related to the way a Blu-ray player reproduces data from a Blu-ray disc. The company cited another patent that covers the “reproduction of multiple data streams” by way of multiple camera angles. LG also said Sony violates a patent it holds on the display of text subtitles on Blu-ray.

LG’s decision to take aim at Sony follows a complaint filed by Sony with the ITC in late December. In that complaint, Sony said that LG violates patents it holds for mobile phones. The company asked the ITC to bar LG from selling its mobile phones in the United States.

For its part, LG wants the ITC to launch an “immediate investigation” into Sony’s use of the Blu-ray player in the PlayStation 3. The company wants the ITC to bar Sony from importing the PlayStation 3 into the United States. It also wants the console to be banned from any marketing or repair efforts Sony might engage in.

Neither Sony nor LG immediately responded to request for comment.

Regardless of what comes out of this, I cannot possibly see LG winning out against Sony. Despite the fact that LG is a larger and wealthier company by today’s standards, Sony just has too much pull in the entertainment and recreation industries.

It won’t just be gamers that will be against a move such as this. Developers will universally rally behind Sony, due to the USA being a vital market for them. Remove the US from the equation and developers will receive a lot less recognition and, as a result, will make a lot less money.

And what about the manufacturers of trading card games, models, toys, and so forth? A lot of their products are based on video games. Think they’d accept this laying down? I don’t think so.

I won’t even get started on the film industry, but we all know that quite a few folks in Hollywood enjoy making movies based on butchered video game plots. Folks such as the notorious Uwe Boll would also be dead set against this (but it’s not like he matters much anyway).

LG can attack Sony all they want, but the PS3 is here to stay.

Japan – 1
Korea – 0

Hardware Review: HKS Racing Controller

As a huge fan of racing games, it’s understandable that I wanted to give the HKS Racing Controller a try. I used to love experimenting with controllers that had unique designs, such as the mammoth Barracuda controller for the original Playstation. While most controllers and gamepads that I’ve tried out over the years have been forgettable for the most part, the HKS Racing Controller stands out as one worth a test drive.

The shape of the HKS Racing Controller is identical to a standard PS3 Sixaxis controller, so what makes it different? Well, the D-Pad is now located where the right analog stick used to be, and the right analog stick has moved to the left side of the controller. The original left stick, which has been swapped out for a sort of diagional wheel-like disc and is located where the D-Pad used to be. The X and square buttons have also been replaced with pedals. That’s right, pedals.

If my description is confusing anyone, then this picture should make things more clear.

Pretty snazzy, huh? What isn’t clear in the picture is what the digital display is in the middle, which I’ll explain. It apparently tells you how hard you are accelerating or braking, but I haven’t paid much attention to the display because, when I’m racing, the last place I’m going to be looking is at my hands rather than the TV screen. It’s still a cool addition though. Nobody should ever object to having a digital display on their controller!

There are two switches on the back of the controller. One switch changes the configuration of the controls while the other one allows you to use L2 and R2 for braking and accelerating. These switches are probably great for some people, but after playing with the controller using the default settings, I really can’t imagine altering the control scheme at all.

How does the diagional “wheel” feel for driving? In all honesty, it’s the best anyone’s going to get without buying a wheel. The controller’s steering wheel reacts with excellent precision, and performing various driving maneuvers are executed with silky smooth accuracy and control. Never before have I been able to overtake or weave in such a fluid manner. You really do feel like you’re controlling your vehicle, not just telling it where to go.

The pedals are just as impressive. I found that pressing and holding down the pedals rather than the buttons on the standard Sixaxis was much easier on my fingers than I could have ever anticipated. Unlike with the Sixaxis’ buttons, you do not have to hold the pedals down tightly to achieve satisfactory results. There is a bit of feedback to the pedals and you really to have to use a bit of effort to push them in all the way, but this is the way it should be. Overall, the pedals felt great and gently pressing them down was very relaxing in comparison to the buttons on the Sixaxis controller. Your fingers are definitely less likely to get sore after extended periods of play with this controller.

The surface of the controller also feels fantastic. The plastic is definitely a higher quality than what we get with the Sixaxis and, as a result, the HKS Racing Controller is extremely unlikely to become clammy after long periods of play, or when passing the controller around in a room full of several players. It feels smooth and retains a dry texture the entire time you are using it.

The only problem I have with the controller is that it is not cordless. Still, the wire is at least ten feet long, so unless you play your Playstation 3 from across the entire room, you shouldn’t have any issues at all with the cord.

So, is the controller worth it? In one word, definitely. Gamers who want a little more control and precision when playing racing games but do not want to lay down a few hundred dollars for an actual racing wheel may want to invest in this affordable controller instead. In terms of effectiveness, the HKS Racing Controller probably sits somewhere between a racing wheel and the Sixaxis, but with the steering precision of a wheel and the small size of a Sixaxis controller, how can you possibly go wrong for fifty bucks? Overall, this is a mighty fine controller.

Hardware Rating: B+

Gran Turismo 5 (Review)

“Polyphony’s flagship series finally makes it’s official debut on the Playstation 3, and the wait was worth it.”

It has been five years since Gran Turismo 4, which is the same length of time that Gran Turismo 5 was in development for. An extremely early GT5 prototype was shown at E3 2005, and since then there has been a wave of jaw dropping trailers as well as disappointing delays. It is November 2010 and, finally, Gran Turismo 5 has crossed the finish line. Was the five years of development worth it, and does the quality of the game reflect the half decade of work?

Upon booting up Gran Turismo 5 for the first time, most users will be required to update to the latest patch immediately, which is close to 200 megabytes. Following this, the game will ask if the player would like to install 8 gigabytes of optional data. Well, considering the fact that the install size is a massive 8 gigabytes should be more than enough to convince the average player to go ahead and go through with it. I did not play Gran Turismo 5 without the install, but I cannot imagine doing so. The game has to load so much data and changes menus so frequently that it would be insane not to do the 8 gigabyte install.

After all of the patching and optional installing is out of the way, which will take roughly an hour in total, players are treated with a cinematic intro movie that runs for a staggering six and a half minutes. The intro walks the player through the construction of cars all the way up to the exciting GT-esque racing that the player bought the game to experience. The intro does start out a little slow, but towards the end it is crammed with more action and excitement than you would ever expect to see in a Gran Turismo title.

Once you reach the main menu, there are a few choices available. GT Mode (or simulation mode for those who have not played Gran Turismo lately), arcade mode, course maker, GT TV, and the options menu are available to check out. I’ll cover the meatiest bits at the end, so first off is the options menu. The amount of individual options that the player can play with is nothing short of exceptional. Dozens of settings for race wheels, television display, and even proper custom soundtrack settings are all contained in the options menu. There’s a lot to check out, so players who are decked out with a racing wheel, a music collection on their PS3, and the Playstation Eye will have lots of cool settings to check out and play with before racing.

All premium cars have the interior view. Standard cars do not.

GT TV is a feature I’m not too interested in just yet, as I am still enjoying the main game far too much to give it much attention. However, I do know what it contains. In GT TV, players will be able to check out GT5 related videos, watch Top Gear, historical videos about various cars, as well as support for the PSP that will enable you to watch GT TV videos on your handheld.

The course maker is an interesting feature that I’ve played with a little. It allows you pick a theme (circuit, kart track, snow, gravel, etc.) and then generate a random track. You don’t too much control over the design of the track, but you can adjust the complexity, road width, and corner sharpness of each section of the race track. The control you have is very limited, and really all that you can do is decide whether or not the track will be basic or complicated. It’s not a critical feature in GT5, but it’s a little fun to check out from time to time. I don’t enjoy making tracks to race on in it, but I do get a bit of a thrill out of making test tracks in it and then giving them a shakedown in time trial mode.

Arcade features many familiar mainstays of the racing genre. You can compete in single races of varying difficulty levels of your choice, go rallying or karting, attack lap times in time trial mode, or even play with a friend in split screen mode. There are a few dozen “arcade mode” cars that you can choose to use. There is nothing arcade-like about the cars, they are merely just vehicles that the game lets you use in arcade mode rather than having to unlock cars in GT Mode to use. This lets you use various cars in arcade mode without going through the hassle of tackling several GT Mode races just to purchase new vehicles. The cars that you do obtain in GT Mode can also be used in arcade mode, but the way in which you set them to be selectable in arcade mode is a little peculiar and perhaps even archaic. Within GT Mode, you must go to your garage and select a car that you own, then bring up the menu and choose “add to favourites” for the particular car. This allows it to be driven in arcade mode. I do not understand why you have to do this just to use your GT Mode cars in arcade mode, as it seems like a very unnecessary step that only wastes the time of the player. I’ve forgotten to add cars to my favourites on several occasions and had to go back and forth between the two game modes just to enable the car for arcade mode and then select it. This process can take two or three minutes sometimes, which is a bit of a bother.

GT Mode itself is where players will spend almost all of their time. The standard simulation mode is contained here, which involves car dealerships, a tune up shop, A-spec and B-spec races, special events, and more. Upon entering GT Mode for the first time, players will have to purchase a car from the used car lot and then practice their skills in the license tests. Players who feel sure of themselves can skip the tests entirely and just go straight to racing instead, since the license tests are completely optional now.

There are several different kinds of races in GT Mode. First is A-spec, which is essentially just standard single races or tournaments that follow certain themes such as only allowing Japanese cars or European antique cars. Winning these races will grant you credits (currency) and experience. Complete all races under certain categories and you will often be rewarded with cars. B-spec races are identical to A-spec races (same categories, events, etc.) only instead of you driving, you get to instruct an AI “apprentice” sort of driver. You will issue him commands to ease up, increase his pace, or attempt to overtake other drivers. Your B-spec drivers will usually struggle initially, but as they drive more often, they will level up and become better drivers. Some B-spec drivers will just struggle with certain kinds of cars. For example, I stuck my B-spec driver in a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, and he made countless mistakes, spinning out at almost every corner. Afterwards, I stuck him in a Toyota FT-86 Concept ’09 and he immediately proceeded to kick ass, winning race after race. I then figured that the twitchiness of the Corvette may have been too much for my B-spec driver, as even I had troubles with the car. The FT-86 was a much friendlier car to drive and felt great, which my B-spec driver seemed to agree with.

2010 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and the futuristic Red Bull X1, which is available ingame.

I mentioned experience points, which is new to Gran Turismo. Obtaining experience from events will allow you to level up, which unlocks new special events and allows you to drive higher tier cars. In previous Gran Turismo games, you could essentially just grind credits and then purchase the best cars, but now you must reach the proper level to pilot certain cars. I always used to buy a Doge Viper as soon as possible, but I had to be level 12 to get the one I wanted in GT5 (the Viper SRT/10 Coupe ’06). When I finally reached level 12, I was ecstatic to purchase the car, and then proceeded to lovingly throw it around the corners of a self-created test track.

The special events in Gran Turismo 5 are great. Initially they may feel challenging or perhaps unfair, but after realizing that the special events take not only raw skill but also careful planning and quick thinking to win, they become extremely intriguing. I struggled with one event that involved racing a pretty ugly Toyota bus around the Top Gear test track, and I just couldn’t figure out how to win it. The best I could muster was 9th for a full day until I went back to the event, observed the AI carefully and planned out several various overtaking moves. When I felt ready to challenge for the gold again, I pulled through and came in first position. It was an awesome feeling to conquer the event, and I felt like I really achieved something. The feeling of accomplishment that I have received from Gran Turismo 5’s various events and races easily trumps any other game that I have played recently.

Now that I have discussed the majority of the game’s content (except the online play, which I have not yet played but here is quite good), I want to go over how the game itself plays. There is really only one thing to talk about, and that is the racing.

As in past Gran Turismo titles, the huge collection of cars present in GT5 (slightly over 1000) contains some pretty awful turds, but most of the cars are either pleasant or flat out awesome to drive. The Toyota bus for example is a wretched vehicle that I never want to drive again, while the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is perhaps the smoothest handling vehicle that I have ever used in a racing game, and I have fallen head over heels in love with it. Few cars handle terribly, and those that do not feel like they are just bad cars, no. Instead, the poorer cars instead just feel like untamed animals that fight with you and challenge you for control. It’s an exhilarating experience to drive such cars, as even the real shit boxes possess lots of personality.

In terms of sound, not many cars sound terribly interesting. Many of them sound like they have generic stock engine noises that we’ve heard several times over now from various other racing games. However, my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR ’99 is a real treat to listen to. It sounds ALIVE, as if it is breathing. NASCAR and karts also sound pretty fantastic and really capture the essence of their real life counterparts.

The graphics in Gran Turismo 5 seldom dip below “good.” Most of the time, I would rate them as being either good or great. The only time the graphics appear to be “average” or perhaps bad in any way is when there is lots of mist or smoke being kicked around. For some peculiar reason, mist and smoke effects cause cars who get caught inside of them to look very pixelated. Even the premium model cars, which are ordinarily gorgeous, look like PS2 era vehicles when caught in mist or smoke. Fortunately cars are rarely ever in this situation, their stunning beauty rarely comprimised by strange graphical issues. A few cars do have polygon tearing issues, which is very odd in this day and age. I’ve only witnessed it on the NASCAR cars in replays, but there may be other cars that are the victim of polygon tearing.

In terms of trackside graphics, it’s a bag of mixed nuts. City tracks look absolutely fantastic and are perhaps the best looking environments I’ve seen on the Playstation 3. However, once you move away from the city tracks, you will find two dimensional trees and bizarre instances of distant objects popping out of nowhere, rendering far later than they should. These aren’t gamebreaking and don’t really make the game ugly, and at very high speeds most of the graphical problems are hard to even notice. However, tracks with many slow corners give you ample opportunities to pick out the game’s graphical flaws.

All cars look very impressive in the game's race replays.

There were a lot of debates online which are even going on now over the premium and standard model cars. The difference between the two is that premium model cars have interior camera views and every piece of the cars’ exterior is modeled to perfection. Standard cars do not feature any kind of in-car camera view and have lower polygon counts. Many frustrated gamers, particularly at GameFAQs, have gotten very upset over standard cars, calling them nothing more than reskinned vehicles from Gran Turismo 4. Some have said very unkind things towards the standard vehicles and have spoken harshly of Polyphony Digital as a result. So, what’s my verdict on premium and standard cars? Well, unless you are intentionally looking for any kind of graphical difference and freezing your replays in order to do so, you probably won’t notice a damn difference between the two. Yes premium models look absolutely stunning, but standard models are not the ugly abominations that the internet trolls make them out to be. They honestly look just fine and can easily go toe to toe with the premiums. In my opinion, the only advantages that the premium cars have are in-car cameras, fully modelled exteriors, and more thorough damage models. Aside from that, they look pretty much just as good. I’m being brutally honest here, standard cars are not an issue at all.

So how does Gran Turismo 5 hold up? Were the five years of development worth it? In my opinion, yes. Many people are upset and let down by the game’s critical reception, but those are the people who overhyped the game and hailed it as the greatest game of all time long before it even came out. The truth is that Gran Turismo 5 is not the best game ever made, far from it! But, is it still a good game? Yes, it’s a good game. In fact, Gran Turismo 5 is an exceptional game. The care taken to create this wonderful product is very apparent to anyone who plays the game, and the quality of the racing is definitely unmatched. In time, I expect Gran Turismo 5 to most likely become my favourite racing game that I have ever played. So, is it worth checking out? If you are a fan of Gran Turismo or racing games in general, then yes. Even fans of Forza (which I did not want to even mention in this review) should find some aspects of GT5 to be extremely enjoyable.

While there are a few graphical and technical issues with the game, none of them directly harm what this game does best, and that is delivering some of the absolute best racing to ever grace a gaming console. This is, without a doubt, Polyphony Digital’s finest work ever. Bravo, guys.

Final Score

9.4/10