After playing nothing but Gran Turismo since Wednesday, I figured I could post a short blog about my thoughts on the game so far. Before I get to that though, I thought I'd do a little self-congratulating because I just completed all the licence tests!
I had set myself the challenge of doing each test, one by one, without continuing until I got at least a silver ranking in each one. This was a bit of a bitch towards the latter stages (the S licence is comprised entirely of 1-lap overtaking races, which can be very frustrating if you have to start over due to a disqualification or being pipped to the post by another driver) but, I persevered, and am very happy with my record of 15 Golds and 45 Silvers across all licences :D Not a single murky bronze among them! I'll probably start from the beginning and try to Gold all my Silvers, though I suspect as I get further up the Licences again, there might be some broken furniture around my house.
Now that that's out of the way, my thoughts on the game so far. (Beware - it's looooong) Also, if any of the below seems incomprehensible, or if I'm repeating myself, it's because I'm very, very tired, and I tried to do a bit of post-editing and might have fucked up the flow of the paragraphs and, like I said, repeated myself or went on a bit too long on one sentence, like I'm doing now.
The DrivingWhat can I say that hasn't already been said about this aspect of the game? The driving, as always, is challenging but incredibly rewarding and fun. This is my first game using a steering wheel, and the feedback you get from the road when cornering or travelling at high speeds is truly remarkable - feeling the rear of the car slide out and catching it at the right moment with a quick counter steer is such a great feeling. There's a huge amount of depth to the variety of even just the Premium cars, in the way that they accelerate, steer and generally handle (ie. shifting weight, hard/easy to control while braking, etc.). It really is a motivator to build a diverse garage of cars and muck around with the tuning (which is as detailed as always) to get your perfect set for all kinds of events.
The AI of the other cars on the track is decent. When similarly matched - performance-wise - the AI will be tough to catch up to and over take. They do make mistakes from time to time (I had a Lamborghini spectacularly spin out right in front of me because he broke way too late for a corner I was approaching alongside him), and they most certainly try to overtake you and other drivers on the track. I'm not sure where the complaints come from about other cars not racing against you... what the hell else are they doing? Do you want them to risk murdering you by ramming you off the road, and then giving you the finger as you spin out into a barrier? I'm not quite sure these moaners have ever seen a real race of any sort. Sometimes people finish in the same position they started in - it's kinda a fact of racing. If your car isn't powerful enough or only on par with the power of the car in front of you, then chances are you're going to be stuck behind them for the entire race unless that person ahead makes a mistake.
The Cars and TracksThe Premium cars look amazing. The Standard cars do not. The Standard cars look considerably less than amazing to be specific. Some of them are fine, but some of them are just plain bad. The first time I rolled up beside a Standard car during a race, and had a look at the details on the car, I cried a little. But then I stopped crying and punched myself in the face for crying about graphics in a video game.
Truth be told, although I'm less than eager to start driving Standard cars, I can't say they've detracted from my overall experience with the game in the slightest. There are 200+ Premiums still to chew my way through, and I never use external car views anyway, so it's not a problem for me. Speaking of car views, the Premium interiors are pretty damn lush. Very detailed and exact. Sprinting through a rainy track in your TOM's Supra with rain hitting the windshield certainly looks fantastic, but also leaves a little to be desired in terms of what you can actually see, so the bonnet or roof view is what I usually went with (also gives a slightly better viewing angle on the road ahead.
There's a good few new tracks, classic oldies and real life tracks, and a decent variety of weather and time-elapsing effects on some, but not all, of the tracks. Some of the environments surrounding the tracks are pretty plain - Trial Mountain specifically stood out as one of the worst, with some low-res texturing and crappy looking trees dotted around the periphery. Then some tracks like the classic Tokyo R246 (I think I'm getting that right), and the night-time Special Stages look brilliant. The lighting effects and surrounding buildings/bridges/walls etc. are well textured, and no blemishes stand out at all. It's like PD intentionally did little work polishing some of the old tracks, and then spent lots of time on others. The new tracks all look fine to me. Apart from these few minor issues, I'm not sure where the graphical hate is coming from. The game has mostly looked superb on my screen at least. Either way, no matter how good or bad a track looks, the real focus is the driving and the intensity of the race - two areas I feel GT5 really excels (the S-10 licence race was one of the more intense moments in the game for me so far).
The dirt and snow rally sections of the game are fairly challenging at the higher difficulties. The tracks require a good understanding of both the car and the surface, as you'll struggle to maintain control of the car (more so than you would on a standard tarmac track) at high speeds and while cornering. Again, another great looking track is the day/night Toscana dirt track. Really great effects as the sun sets and night falls, and your headlights come into use.
There are also Karts in the game. The driving style is very different to what you're used to with your normal cars. The steering is more direct to control, and you can feel every bump and tire slide underneath you as you twitch your way around a tight track closely followed by (or behind) a crazy bunch of racers just waiting for you to make one mistake. This is a fantastic addition to the series in my opinion, and something everyone should try out, even if they're somewhat skeptical about it.
Also: Nascar. You drive big rectangular cars around an oval at high speeds while zombie Jeff Gordon tells you you're doing great or you fucked up that turn. In my opinion this mode is crappola and should be avoided where possible. PD would have been better off omitting it, or at least putting a helmet on zombie Godon's weird muppety head.
Finally to mention the damage - it does exist at all levels. I can't attest to how it changes later on (only at level 15 now, I think the first major change happens at 20). You can severely damage the car at the stage I'm at now, but it takes a bit of brute force to make any serious-looking damage on the car. Give it enough abuse and the bumper will hang at an angle from the car, with large dents and discolouration where it's been hit.
The UIThere's a number of things I don't like about the UI. The main one at the moment is the load times between some menu items. Apparently linked with online congestion, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for this problem, but I doubt it will every truly be 'fixed' (like, I'm sure there's some actual loading going on during those screens too). I can sort of see why some people aren't too fond of the UI design, but I can't say I've found it to be much of an issue, Having said that, there's a ton of stuff they could improve. For instance - when you win a car, it arrives as a ticket type of thing in your "car delivery" section. You go into this menu, click the ticket, then click ok to use the ticket, then watch the little movie of the car driving towards you (showing you the car you just acquired), then it asks you if you want to get into that car right now, then it loads the menu again, then it saves too. That's a shovel full of bullshit right there.
Navigating the garage stuff is fine, and most menus have shortcuts and context menus to explore to hurry things along. At times I wish it was a little snappier, but what can you do. It is what it is, and it's not a game breaker by any means. The community stuff seems pretty neat, though not all of it is as self explanatory as I think it could be.
The dealerships and arcade mode offer insane amounts of info on any given car, and it's really nicely presented. The same can be said about the tuning shop as well. Lots of detailed info on what does what, and how certain things affect how you car performs and handles. If you want to delve in and learn this stuff, the game makes it very accessible for you to do so. The effects of such things as negative camber and car height will all become clear with a little learning and testing.
Other StuffThis is just a brief list of random other stuff I haven't mentioned.
Photomode is a lot of fun.
Replays along with the variety of view options are still great, though the lack of a rewind/fast-forward function is PERPLEXING. Apparently the touted 'upload replay to Youtube' option is to come in a later patch - hopefully in December.
B-Spec mode (where you manage an AI driver) is apparently ok. I haven't touched it and probably never will.
Telemetry data is insane and probably incredibly useful to someone who understands what the numbers mean.
The car assists are helpful to newcomers, but the game is a lot more fun with them all switched off (except for ABS for even moderately skilled players).
I haven't touched the online modes so I can't comment on them.
GTTV is pretty cool. I downloaded a couple of things on there, though I'm not so sure I'd be interested in buying stuff from it (especially since your purchase is more like a year long rental).
I haven't tried the track editor, because I don't give a fuck. As far as I know, it's fairly simple - you tell it how many corners you want and the type of environment and it kinda randomizes one for you. Still nice that it's in there, but I'm happy enough with the selection of tracks in the game so far.
Alright, I think that does it. I probably left out something else, if you want my opinion on it, just ask.
If anyone wants to add me on PSN, my ID is Binman-88.
TL;DR = This game is pretty fucking sweet. Haters gonna hate.