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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gran Turismo 5 Review

John B. Marine | 7:50 PM | |
(UPDATED: April 6, 2012)

Gran Turismo 5 took just over half a decade to complete. A new experience for GT novices and veterans alike was set to be unveiled to the world November 2010. This new GT is a major title unlike "Gran Turismo HD" and "Gran Turismo 5: Prologue." People still bought "Gran Turismo 5: Prologue" because they want something to tide them over from PD until the real McCoy came to stores. Fast forward through delays and shortcomings, and Gran Turismo 5 has been in stores since November 2010. And I must admit- part of my instability to update this blog was predicated on me getting a PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5. I think it has hindered the further progress as I tried to come up with alternative (but relevant) topics instead. Now that I have played Gran Turismo 5 and played enough of it to professionally discuss it, I give you this blog review of this title.

I'm sorry it has taken so long for me to get a PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5 to eventually share my ideas, but the long-awaited, long-planned review of GT5 is here.

--- Gran Turismo 5 at a Glance ---

Gran Turismo 5
^ from: - The new standard. The big bad wolf. Gran Turismo 5.

It was a long grind for GT5 to be released proper to the world. Amid some of the disappointments of GT4, fans hoped for a magnificent game to really reassure fans why Gran Turismo (at least from a fan's perspective) is the greatest racing game franchise of the modern era. One such disappointment was the lack of online play for GT4 despite a long promise to include it for GT4.

For the first time ever in series history, races can be done with more than six to a track (including you). As few as eight on a tarmac circuit, and as many as 12 on a tarmac circuit can race at once in Gran Turismo 5. As many as 16 can race at once on tracks. Time cycles and weather effects at certain race tracks will spice up the racing action and add a sense of realism never before experienced in any previous Gran Turismo. Also new to GT is damage. The damage may not be as severe as what you'd see in a Forza or whatever, but you do spot damage on cars.

A number of manufacturers from around the world show up in GT5. Some are making their GT debut like McLaren, Maserati, Tesla, and Ferrari among many others. All of the SEMA Best in Show winners also make their appearance in GT5 with their cars immortalized among the cars featured.

GT5, then, is set to reassure its fans that the wait was worth it and that the game series is anything but dead. Is it? You'll find out as you read along.

--- What You Should Know ---

Here are items to take note of in regards to GT5:

Standard vs. Premium

The game features some estimated 1,000 cars. Among those, about 200 are Premium. What is the difference between Premium and Standard? There are many differences, but here are the core differences: interior view for Premium cars, enhanced damage model, more tuning options, Photo Travel (formerly Photo Mode) usage, Racing Modifications, and more. Standard cars are essentially cars ported over from Gran Turismo 4 and retouched for GT5. Many fans were disappointed at the quality and treatment of Standard cars in GT5, but you still get to race these cars in the GT realm.

(ADDED: October 26, 2011) If you have downloaded the Spec 2.0 update, Standard cars now have silhouette interior views. Some open-top Standard cars, such as the Caterham and any Standard LMP have some interior and dashboard views. Read more about all the Spec 2.0 updates by visiting "GT5 Spec 2.0 and Downloadable Content" here on John's Gran Turismo Space.

Driving Model.

One of the saddest things about GT4 was its driving model. It has been replaced with a driving model that is vastly enhanced for Gran Turismo 5. The new driving model allows you to be more aggressive and handle better than you ever could in GT4. You feel like you have better control overall in GT5. I actually love racing with this model. Be warned, though. You may find yourself in trouble if you try to get too aggressive in your driving. If you turn off traction control and/or ABS, the cars will drive at their most unforgiving limits. Do NOT disable traction control and/or ABS unless you know how to drive these cars properly. That especially pertains to the more powerful machines.

Sound and Music.

Sound quality was always a weak point in Gran Turismo games. Not so much in this one. The engine sounds are the best of any GT. However, some will argue that American cars still sound very weak.

The music in Gran Turismo is great across all genres. I can say that a good percentage of this game's attractive level is in the music alone. The lounge music in menus are among the most classy songs in all of GT. You basically sometimes forget you're playing a racing game when you hear some of GT5's lovely music. As for the racing music, your fair share of rock and electronic dance music are there to get you in the mood. If you don't like the music included, you can always import your own music to be played in GT5. By the way, that is also new to the Gran Turismo series- the ability to play your own music stored on your PS3 hard drive. Just remember to set the option to allow personal music to be played in menus and in the game. The music is perhaps the best in Gran Turismo history with so many choices and so many great songs.

By the way, there are 189 songs in Gran Turismo 5 spread across seven different genres (Alternative, Bossanova, Classical, Dance/Electronic, Jazz, Lounge, and Rock). You can choose to have personal music for the menus and/or the races.

Racing (and Wrecking).

While most of the same style of action is standard issue for GT5, the racing is actually more exciting with some hard hits and vicious wrecks. The AI seems to be dodgy while not being too mindless like in past GT titles. It is also possible to roll your car over. I haven't yet tested this (and don't want to experience this).

Online Content.

It is very recommended you download the latest updates for your copy of Gran Turismo 5. As of this blog post, I downloaded the 1.10 update for GT5 and can enjoy many of the different aspects of GT to make it come alive. Among one of the many features (besides online play in general) is the ability to choose your own racing gear from a line of different available options.

Leveling Up.

You must be at certain levels to access various races as well as purchasing cars. One of the best ways to level up is to take part in the Special Events. Victory in a Special Event can net you a great deal of experience as well as giving you a sufficient boost in funds. In fact, successfully clearing just the first two races of the Gran Turismo Karting Challenge will give you 12K Credits alone as well as a good amount of experience points you can use to enter bigger races as well as purchase better-performing cars (at your current level, of course).

License Tests alone will only offer you so much. So you will really need to do more racing to build up your experience. Remember- you need experience points even to enter tougher license tests. Each License requires a certain level. They all come in multiples of three. The National B License is at Level 0, the National A License requires you to be at Level 3, the International C requires you to be at Level 6, and so on until you get to the Super License (Level 15). This game will really require you to do more racing before you can take on some of the later License Tests. That is, if you want to quickly level up and have a better chance of moving up the ranks.

On the other hand, you are not required at all to have a license to compete in any race! This may be the most refreshing news for Gran Turismo players who hate doing license tests. All you need to get ahead is solid leveling in either A-Spec racing or B-Spec racing.

Special Events.

Enhance your racing skills and make some money by doing the Special Events. These Special Events feature a variety of racing events as well as more ways to enjoy racing. Try out many of the unique racing events and challenges. You start off with the Gran Turismo Karting Experience, allowing you to take part in go-kart racing. Learn the limits of kart racing and make the most of your skill to win. Once you get through this, you will have earned enough money to purchase a fairly decent Premium car or a very good Standard car.


Considered controversial from Gran Turismo 4, B-Spec is back in Gran Turismo 5. This time, you really feel like you are actually coaching a driver instead of feeling like the game is playing itself for you. You have actual drivers you can create and generate and coach to victory. When you start leveling up every five levels (5, 10, 15, etc.), you can add another driver to your driver lineup. You can eventually have up to six drivers as part of your B-Spec racing team.

B-Spec, however, requires longer racing for the most part. Most of the races in B-Spec are double the length. It means you'll have to work longer and harder to win than in any A-Spec race. Why so? I basically think you can only compete in B-Spec by doing the official races. Since there are no other methods to enhance your B-Spec racers, the only way to make your B-Spec career better is to do more B-Spec racing. Coach your driver up to be amazing. When you make more racers, you now have to take on the task of coaching them to greatness. It's all up to you to help make the B-Spec racer the best he/she can be. I know the game talks about things like " the peak of HIS career," but your B-Spec racer can be a female racer. Just use your imagination. Won't hurt nothin'.

Course Maker.

Generate your own courses based on certain parameters you set. You may not get to build that dream track from scratch, but you can be able to create a fairly good circuit based on certain characteristics of a course you envision.

Downloadable Content.

(ADDED: October 26, 2011)
Downloadable content has been made available for Gran Turismo 5. There are two new venues as of October 26, 2011- Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and a fictional course called Kart Space (the name of this track was NOT inspired by my blog!). Also included are packages featuring paint items, racing suits and helmets for your GT avatar, and more cars. Be sure to visit PlayStation Store to purchase the latest material for Gran Turismo 5!

These are some of many things you need to know regarding Gran Turismo 5. Many more items will be discussed in more future blog posts. So stay tuned for more!

--- Gran Turismo 5: Overall Review ---

There is no denying that Gran Turismo 5 is a game to really go above and beyond Gran Turismo 4. Many people, though, still think Gran Turismo 5 could be a lot better. Gran Turismo 5 still remains a great game once you open the box and insert the disc. I greatly recommend you download the latest update(s) for Gran Turismo 5 to really and truly enjoy the experience. Great driving, sound, music, and a lovely assortment of cars (even with the Standards) make this one tough to put down. Even I have had my own doubts about Gran Turismo 5 based on what reviewers have said as well as what as what Gran Turismo fans themselves have said.

Despite this praise, there are a few disappointments with this game that I have.

• The first one happens right away- My Chemical Romance and their song to kick off GT5. Let me just say this- "Moon Over the Castle" is the theme song of Gran Turismo. DO NOT replace the theme song Do you hear the Super Mario theme replaced by some emo rock music? Do you hear the Legend of Zelda theme replaced by some bluegrass music? Don't change up the GT theme for certain markets just so that certain music fans won't soil their diapers just because a certain band isn't included doing the song. "Moon Over the Castle" or no opening theme music at all. That simple.

• I don't feel too disappointed about so few cars taking advantage of the Racing Modifications feature, but I feel more could have been done to make even the Standard cars at least somewhat Racing Modification ready. I'll discuss this elsewhere on JGTS. But for the most part, I feel the Racing Modification thing could be extended just to allow for simple graphics on the car. Then again, that wouldn't seem much like what PD was probably looking for. PD was probably seeking true Racing Modifications where you can see the changes in and out of the car. On the other hand, you can still mostly add aero kit parts to most Premium cars to get that sort of real racing machine of your dreams looks-wise.

• I also feel mostly disappointed that certain championships couldn't be longer or with more races. Then again, you don't need to play this game offline to enjoy it because you can always go online for some racing action apart from the AI. You can also race in Seasonal Events that basically use some of the same events but tailored to certain performance restrictions. So the racing never really stops!

Other than this, Gran Turismo 5 remains very much assuring to GT fans that this game got the praise it has gotten over the life of the franchise through earning it rather than by asking nicely to be the premiere racing game franchise of the modern era. I am still enjoying and exploring what all GT5 has to offer. Needless to say, there hasn't been much for me to be disappointed about except that I've lamented not getting a PS3 and GT5 previously.

Yes... I understand I'm late to the Gran Turismo 5 party and the PlayStation 3 party, but I eventually joined in on the action. I am also aware that many more racing games have passed along from various developers, including the upcoming Forza Motorsport 4 (which has me worried as a GT fan). I also understand these games offer experiences even better than GT5 has to offer. But you know what? I am not the least bit concerned or worried about other titles because I've wanted to play Gran Turismo 5 for the longest. My interest in playing Gran Turismo 5 as well as eventually playing more than just the kiosk demo didn't keep down my interest to finally play the daylights out of GT5. This was the game I wanted. This was the system I wanted. I have yet to be disappointed to where I could have played some other game and enjoy that more than GT5. GT5 has its shortcomings, but to me, the shortcomings aren't severe enough to where they are a deal breaker. You owe it to yourself as a Gran Turismo fan, let alone as any kind of racing game fan, to play Gran Turismo 5 and enjoy the experience it provides. Many say it could have been much better, but it could have been much worse as well. It is thankfully not worse. Otherwise, many more people would want to bolt from their PS3s to go with an XBOX 360 and the Forza Motorsport games. Gran Turismo 5. Yes... it's worth it.

You want Gran Turismo 5? Get it on Amazon (Standard and Collector versions available):

So there you are- finally. My review of Gran Turismo 5 at long last. Remember that MUCH more material will either be added or edited in the future. It's time I get this blog pointed in the correct direction after making all of you have to wait for so long. Thank you for reading!

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