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Gran Turismo 6: An extremely disappointing, bugged/glitchy addition to an once great franchise
on 20 April 2014
Just got this for my birthday and was excited to jump into another GT game. After the disappointment of GT5, and the high praise GT6 has received last year from gaming websites, I was expecting a fantastic game.
It's very mediocre. The game has loads of annoying design decisions, bad glitches and game breaking bugs, which have ruined the overall experience for me.
On the surface, GT6 has everything that you'd want from a racing game. There are 1,207 cars and 29 circuits. The vast majority of cars in GT6 date back to its PS2 days, cars like the Subaru 22B. There is no interior, you can't flash your headlights, reverse lights don't work, edges are rough. It doesn't even look good for a PS2. That also means that even though there are 1,207 cars, a lot of them are derivatives, and some key cars are still missing. No Ferrari, Lamborghini's etc. In a weird twist, GT6 no longer separates standard and premium cars on the dealership screens. This can lead to spending your hard-earned credits on a new ride, only to get onto the circuit and find that it looks jagged and blurry next to the other pristine 'premium' cars. If you didn't like the gulf in standards between the cars on GT5, and play exclusively in cockpit mode, then you won't be impressed with GT6. The switching to a standard car destroys the immersion first and foremost, and just makes the game feel very inconsistent and jarring to play.
If you want to build up a big car collection, you're going to need either a lot of spare time or a lot of spare cash. GT6 is designed to reward its most dedicated fans by keeping the very best cars exclusive. Classic racing cars have high credit price tags, meaning that you're going to have to grind out a lot of career events to afford them. In GT5, you could get around this by taking part in the weekly updated seasonal events, which differed little from Career races but offered massive payouts, sometimes upward of half a million credits. In GT6, the first batch of seasonal events offer a top prize of only 12,500 credits. This leaves the newly introduced micro transactions as the only option for busy players to acquire the best cars. Which is ridiculous.
One million credits cost £7.99, but the most expensive cars in the game are worth around 20 million credits, costing upward of £100 in real money. Spending real money is entirely optional, and you have to actively go looking for the store to do so, but the choice to add micro transactions instead of addressing the grind is extremely infuriating.
Thankfully, one of the few things GT6 does right is in it's tracks. Some of the new course models are gorgeous. Willow Springs, for example when caught in the right light and angle, looks like a live film of the track. From West Sussex to the Moon, and seemingly everywhere in-between. Gran Turismo 6's tracklist is staggering in its scope, and quite possibly the most complete ever seen in a driving game.
But in some areas the game seems to have trouble rendering everything on screen at once, with some graphical pop in issues and really bad screen tearing on some tracks. I have noticed spectators and textures on things suddenly appearing, and the shadows on the environment seem to have this weird flickering issue especially on stages where there are day-night cycles. Rain effects are disappointing too, with water falling from the sky in jagged lines, and spray from cars looking like a decal glued to the back of each vehicle.
Night racing, on the other hand, is spectacular, with gorgeous lighting and detailed star-filled skies. There is, however, an unfortunate side effect to the entire simulation: the frame rate. It's stable most of the time, but it suffers on some of the more detailed courses, and load times are inconsistent too. All of this takes away from the driving experience as it's a constant distraction. But that's Gran Turismo 6, an intermittent gorgeous game that can simultaneously excite and infuriate you.
GT6 takes another bizarre turn in the game's Special Events. These side missions place you in specific cars and locations with unique tasks. My favorite of these is the Goodwood Hill Climb, which puts you behind the wheel of a variety of classic cars at this famous British motorsport festival, and is a neat bit of nostalgic fun. At the other end of the spectrum is the very gimmicky lunar exploration task. In this event, you drive supposedly accurate lunar rover missions from the 1970s. These are slow, tedious events that are only remarkable for the setting and the fleeting novelty of driving in low gravity.
Menus seem to have taken a step back. In license tests (yes, they still exist), you can't go from one event to another in that menu. You have to go back a layer and then select the next step. It's the same in other challenges too. Add in additional loading times (which aren't particularly fast), and a mistaken press of a button can make you mad enough to turn the game right off. Loading times do decrease as you play on, but at the beginning, when you're retrying things over and over, that's when it gets the most infuriating.
Physics are distinctly different from car to car, with a different driving style required to get the best out of each one. But the engine audio is pretty poor as powerful super-cars still sound like lawnmowers and hairdryers.
A.I drivers are better than GT5 but still way off from perfect, and nowhere near to making you feel immersed as a competing racing driver. Opponents adhere to a rigid racing line, behaving more like slot cars than real racers. They show almost no awareness of either you or the other AI drivers, clumsily turning into other cars, stamping on the brakes way too early, and failing to power out of corners. And the persistent rubber-banding is quite bad too, almost comical. On too many occasions you'll enter the last lap six or seven seconds adrift of the leader, only to miraculously catch up and claim the position on the last corner. It just feels very boring and lifeless.
If you want some competitive racing, you need to head into the online lobbies. Multiplayer racing can be a minefield at the best of times, and GT6 similarly makes getting into a race an awkward process. The 'Quick Match' option barely works, meaning that the only way to race is to scour pages and pages of custom lobbies until you find one that you like.
Users can flag events as racing for fun, for realism, or for drifting, but that's about as helpful as it gets. Icons show you whether a lobby restricts assists or car performance, but there's nothing to tell you which assists will be locked out, or exactly how car performance is restricted. You're left with no choice but to connect to a game and hope for the best. This is yet another area where Polyphony Digital promised big changes from GT5 but has failed to deliver.
The rest of the presentation is pure Gran Turismo, for better and for worse. The music is the usual mixture of lounge jazz and heavy metal, and none of the game is voiced, so you read a lot of text tutorials in the early going. Other areas have been given a bit more attention. Races are introduced with some cool TV-style graphics with details about weather conditions, temperatures, and starting grids, which creates a nice sense of atmosphere that has been missing from previous GT games.
Damage, on the other hand, has not been changed at all since GT5. The vast majority of cars show barely any damage. Even 100mph head-on collisions cause only tiny dents and scrapes, and they have no impact on car handling or performance.
Car engines and impact sounds are disappointingly weak for a game which pride's it's self on being a "Real Driving Simulator". You would swear that your high powered Lancia Integrale was being powered by an ASDA electric hairdryer. When you have a 3rd party 2007 PS3 game like Colin Mcrae Dirt, which has amazing throaty car engine sounds, why can't a high profile 1st party 2013 release, like GT6 do the same? Some cars sound better than others, but the same can't be said for all of the the collision sound effects. They're awful. It sounds like they recorded somebody banging on some plasterboard for when you crash into another car, or smash into a wall at high speed. It's just painfully bland and ruins the immersion in an already lackluster game.
And finally the game breaking bugs and glitches:
*While playing the International B Historic Car Race Cup, on race 2 the Nurburgring wouldn't load after crashing my console a few times.
*Engine sounds that keep cutting out for no reason.
*The audio output track is off, I'm currently using 2-channel since the 5.1 and 7.1 outputs have ALL the car sounds coming out of my rear 2 speakers regardless of camera position. I expect the exhaust sound to come from the rear speakers when on most views but not the third-person view. I'm also getting no Engine sounds from the front speakers like I should when the motor is in from of the driver.
*On the last endurance race, Le Mans. I started the race on RS tires and can do the first three laps and my tires do NOT wear at all, perfect 10's all the way around. The only reason why I have to pit is to fuel my car on lap 3, but once I come back out of the pits, supposedly a fresh set of RS's, the car skates all over the place, it feels like I've got SS tires on. I lost the first race I tried because I had to pit an extra time due to the tire wear, the second race I did I put RH's on after the first pit stop and it was even worse. I could hear my tires screeching the ENTIRE length of the long back stretches.
*The screen froze when "Congratulations" message popped up after completing all National B licenses. Had to restart game.
*1995, 1998 and 1999 Honda Integra Type-R dashboard, steering wheel, hands are black / not displaying in dashboard view.
*Playing with a Logitech Driving Force GT wheel, and the L1/R1 paddle shifters do not seem to work as L1 or R1. In a race they shift gears fine, but in menus that say that L1 or R1 are supposed to do something, clicking the paddles does nothing.
*When racing at Daytona, Rolling Starts & Double File Rolling Starts both start me out in the middle of the Infield (center of Daytona Logo out in the grass).
*I was playing the Night races on Matterhorn track. It is a 3 lap race. I was driving the 15th Anniversary 86 GT. I was winning from the lap 2 in the 1st place. At the end of Lap 3, I crossed the finishing line, the race continued and I'm back at 10th position, having to do 3rd lap again.
*Having crashes/lockups. Usually exiting photo travel and photo mode. Have to shut down, restart twice then re-insert disc afterwards for ps3 to read disc. This has happened multiple times.
*The flashing gear indicator is incorrect it tells me to be in a gear lower then I should be. Example: The gear adviser suggests 2nd however if I was to be in second gear I need to immediately up shift due to being out of my power band.
*I played for 4+ hours finished Novice, and National B, inc Licenses, and moon and Goodwood, and the 3 seasonal Events,
But when I reloaded GT6, the My Home screen said my current car was last car I drove, but was unable to open garage and I did not have any cars. I opened the license events, no stars. *MY ONLY OPTION IS TO GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING* No awards, but, I have 23 races logged, 2 wins, all my money, 350 miles logged, 4.1 hours of driving in the Stats Section. Again, can't do anything without unlocking. But everything was unlocked. And shown as such. But the stars are just not there.
Overall Gran Turismo 6 is a barely competent racing game bogged down with many issues and micro transactions that ruin this latest entry. It feels incredibly dated and infuriating to play at times. It's largely the same game that it has been for years, with the added benefit that most of the really interesting new features will come at some indeterminate time in the future via patches. The series has fallen a long way, or perhaps it's more that it hasn't really moved that much and the rest of the world has passed it by. And the fact that it still uses assets from GT4, a 2004 released game just goes to strengthen my point even further. It's really only saved by the sheer volume of content that it provides and the fact that there's no serious competition on the same console.