on 16 December 2013
Its clear that Polyphony Digital don't do things like everyone else. Whether we like that or not, they deserve respect for sticking to their vision. Gran Turismo is evolving and will continue to do so into the far future, and that's the thing, evolution. It's a series that makes lots of subtle improvements over previous versions; righting some of the wrongs and pushing technology in new ways. So is the 6th game enough of an improvement?
The first improvement you will notice is the new menu; it's certainly easier to look at and navigate than the messy layout of GT5. It's still not idiot proof, but better it certainly is.
Car handling and Physics have had quite a makeover; steering is more responsive and it's easier to feel the movement of the car with the new suspension technology. As expected each car feels different and has its own quirks. Once you've found a few cars that suit your style, you may find this is the most satisfying virtual driving experience on PS3.
Graphics deserve the mixed bag title all to themselves. The game can look astonishingly good considering the PS3 was released in 2006. The most obvious improvement is lighting; the way the sun changes the look of the circuits and reflects on car bodies is absolutely top shelf. Premium cars look a bit better than before (which is to say they look excellent), and some of the standard cars look much prettier than GT5. The question is, why is the irritating divide between perfectly modeled premium cars and lower detailed standard cars still here at all? Circuits now look more detailed, but can't keep up with Grid 2 or F1 2013 (unless that impeccable lighting is working its magic). Track side objects and scenery vary from impressive to surprisingly poor and shadows often flicker on and off helplessly. Mountains look excellent though. While driving, most of the graphical shortcomings can't been seen anyway, it's only on replays that embarrassing problems show up. On the subject of replays, the new camera angles are a nice change, giving more of a TV style impression that shows us the game at it's best... and worst.
In terms of pure content, Gran Turismo 6 is way ahead of the rest of the racing game industry. To have well over 1200 cars is incredible, but also a double edged sword as mentioned above. I can't help feeling it would be better to have a few hundred premium cars that are actually worth driving, than 1200 cars of different visual quality... and who wants to race a completely stock Honda Fit anyway? But here I must echo my previous statement - Polyphony Digital don't do things like everyone else. You also get a fantastic selection of circuits, the best of any game so far. I was especially pleased to see Brands Hatch and Bathurst (two of my favourites in the world) added to the already comprehensive list. Old classics are back too, and look a nicer of course. I'm really happy with the ludicrous amount of rally cars on offer here and I couldn't resist taking a couple to the Monaco race track to handbrake round the hairpins. As usual there's also an excellent selection of classy sports cars and pure racing machines, although I could do without some of the stock road cars with virtually no power. However the swanky Honda Civic, for example drives beautifully.
A.I Drivers... This is an area where Gran Turismo is some way behind most modern racing titles. They are better than before, actually bothering to defend and fight sometimes, but for a large majority of career races, they are way too slow. On the rare occasion that you are behind, the game will give you a helping hand with some blatant rubber banding on the final lap; allowing you to magically catch several seconds up. If your robotic competitors have cars that are much quicker on the straight than you, they will sometimes brainlessly shove you off the road, before continuing to drive slowly round the corners.
The game can be tough when it wants to though, I found the kart races a challenge, along with the Goodwood events, coffee break challenges, and other entertaining side notes. The Goodwood hill climb itself is a narrow, unforgiving piece of road; touch the grass slightly with an unstable car and you will quickly smack into the nearest hay bale or wall, followed by instant disqualification. I was dreading the much talked about moon missions, but they are actually quite exciting. Well... the first two are, the third one is ridiculous.
Don't expect advanced damage in GT6. Paint scrapes and dents look very good indeed, but no matter the scale of your accident, you will make it to the end with no problem.
Another problem is the all important engine sounds. After 15 years of experience, Polyphony still can't give us proper engine audio. Some of them sound good, but they are still fake, which is a disappointment when many others do it better. The Audi S1 sounds great, but it doesn't sound anything like the real car, trust me on that one. Other areas of audio seem good enough though; tyre squeal is very prominent, perhaps a touch over the top depending on your opinion. The sound of gravel being flung about sounds cool and transmission noise can be pretty loud depending on the car. I personally don't have an issue with the thudding noise people are moaning about when you crash, but it can sound quite different at times if you drive on bonnet cam.
To summarise: GT6 gives you a fantastic driving experience that can be thrilling in the right car, graphics are a mix of fabulous and disappointing depending on the situation, audio needs work, but the sheer amount of content is frankly stunning. There's plenty more to come though thanks to regular updates over the coming months; just make sure you've got plenty of room on your Hard Drive.
It is indeed better than GT5 but I feel it should have been better still. It is certainly ahead of its rivals in a few ways but some elements of its presentation are old fashioned and in need of an overhaul for future releases.