visariloyalist's Gran Turismo 5 (PlayStation 3) review

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4 years...I guess it would be tedious to license 1000 cars

So this game has been brewing here for some ungodly number of years. I'd be fine with that if I thought that they actually used that time to work on the gameplay or the graphical prowess of the game more. But it seems their real hurdle was wrangling all the myriad of cars you theoretically can drive in this game.  
Ok, let's start there, 1000 cars right? Well, sort of, the thing you have to understand about that is that when you're playing the game there's no static list for you to choose from, there's the dealership cars which are premium modeled(100 or so) and the used cars, which are standard modeled (low res, fugly). However at any given point there's something like 50 or so cars available at the used car dealer and yet there's theoretically hundreds of standard cars to drive in this game. So I don't think it was ever polyphony's intention for you to ever actually be able to pick from a thousand cars as you'd have to buy each car at the time they happen to be being sold by the used car dealer to use them in the first place. The 1000 cars are more used as low resolution opponents for you to race then anything else. So that part of it seems like a cynical way for them to get a nice box quote.
Moving on to this game's graphical performance. The modeling of the premium cars is fantastic looking and the somewhat dirty looking textures of the environment can be overlooked in light of the games solid frame rate. However the one thing I absolutely cannot overlook and which takes me out of the game experience entirely is the horridly pixelated lighting on your car. Maybe this is less noticeable when not playing in 1080p but for my part the reflections on the surface of the car look like something out of minecraft, especially the trees, and the large cross shadow that comes off your car is so blocky it isn't believable at all. Now granted if you squinted a little bit or kept the focus of your eye somewhere else on the screen you might not notice it but it's so in your face on an HD set up that it hurts to see a game that is purported to be the height of graphical perfection drop the ball. 
The gameplay is of course heavily focused on simulation and that's wonderful. The experience of the many varied types of cars is interesting although less so once you've driven your 3rd type of Yaris, I'm sorry that one's just to entertaining. The driving feels very natural and your mistakes are quite similar to those in real driving, that is oversteering, understeering not braking enough, braking to much. For as much as it feels natural most the time though there are many moments that remind you it's a damn video game. When you hit the railing sometimes or another car, it might actually help you get around a turn by righting you in the direction you need to go without consequence. Now I guess that issue has been present since the first gran turismo and if you were okay with it then than you're okay with it now but still. The other thing that might happen if you hit a railing is your car's fender might slightly deform... and that's the extent of damage modeling. Also the game runs fast and if you came to gran turismo just to feel what it would really be like to drive a ferrari real real fast this game simulates it most accurately I would say just wanted to get that in there.
The other part about gran turismo that keeps things interesting is the many varied tracks you'll race on and the different gameplay variations therein. There's snow drift and dirt drift tracks. There's Go Kart racing at one point which I found hilariously difficult to steer. There's many scenic locations to adore while you drive with many recognizable locations in europe. Polyphony does make a major innovation in gran turismo games at least to my knowledge by including night time city tracks which actually do the lighting very well by virtue of the lighting changes being so rapid you can't notice the pixelated nature of the reflections. I could do without anything NASCAR but that's just cause I kinda find it to be tasteless just driving at 200mph constantly turning slightly to the left... but there's in fact some NASCAR so if you're really into NASCAR then check it out.  
You have the ability in this game to get crazy with upgrading your car. I currently have a 62' Buick with 700 horsepower in my garage so the skies the limit theoretically. That upgrade stuff is probably not the most true to life part of the game but it gives you needed flexibility when it comes to events like, the only pre 1979 japanese car that's available to you is some underpowered piece of junk but you can put a bunch of money into it to make it fast if you really have to complete every event which I do because I'm insane.  You can also get really advanced and adjust ride height and other stuff which I don't even understand how it effects my car so I don't mess with it but I suspect that sort of thing might give you the edge in the Extreme difficulty events.   
If you want to get super meta with your sim action you can start the B-Spec mode which lets you "give orders" to drivers during a race. The commands you can give your driver consist of "pace down" "pace up" "keep current pace" "overtake" and there's also basically an aggravation meter for your driver as well as a strength and mental strength meter. The aggravation meter goes down if you set a lower pace for your driver. If his aggravation is to high then his strength or mental strength meter will go down and if they go down to much he'll make a bunch of mistakes. So basically the strategy I adopted for this was to make sure my driver had a significantly higher horsepower car then tell him to overtake until he was first place at which point you can lower his pace a few times and then you win. You also have drivers with different stats and you're sort of developing them by leveling them up. I don't understand who wants this mode. The only use I see for it is a way to grind out credits without actually having to do anything much which i suppose you would need if you expect to ever drive all 1000 cars. 
One last point. I enjoyed and am still enjoying this game. It has a certain slow pace to it that can be appreciated. In this world of video games that feel like they're pushing you down a tube practically gran turismo has a myriad of options and a laid back feel. This is the sort of game I can spend hours with while listening to podcasts for example. All its flaws should be noted, the 1000 unnecessary cars given that they're so hard to access and are low res, the blocky lighting and the needless B-spec mode. What should also be noted is that as the game states it is the best simulator of racing yet seen. It's less a game in that sense than a simulator which is forced to have some sort of progression which you could call a game. It has all the trappings of the stereotypical racing game with its credit system and levels but for all practical purposes it's still a very methodical simulator. If you are ready however, to enjoy driving for the sake of it, then gran turismo is for you. Do not cling however to the notion of what a "game" should be, just drive.

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