The Drive of Your Life...

...Isn't quite as we'd imagined it in Gran Turismo 5, but beneath mysterious pratfalls lies the same racing experience we fell in love with so many years ago. But can nostalgia overcome a lack of advancement for the series?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 31, 2010
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Our own Kyle summed up the early experience of Gran Turismo 5 as one of those ultra-high-end cars you get that don't even have cupholders or satellite navigation; it's pure, bare racing with oft-confusing decisions throughout the whole of the finished playable product. None of these things completely ruin the experience, but there's a tangible sense that for the past few years, Polyphony Digital has been working in something of a bubble.

Except this analogy falls apart a little when you consider Polyphony Digtal, who released a game that absolutely was not ready for the Gran Turismo name, has been making inroads to try to shore it up to something that really does feel like the Gran Turismo 5 everyone was expecting.

So then the issue becomes one of reviewing the product that's on-disc or the one that's been bolted on with all these updates that have hit over the past few weeks. In truth, it's a very, very hard line to distinguish. In the early days of the generation, in seeing what had come before with PC releases that were nowhere near ready to be packaged as a retail product, a hard line was drawn: we review the game as it appears on the disc, and the additions are meant to be something of an addendum -- an extra bit of the review that comes back and helps update things to the reality of the current situation.

Now, though, patches are not only common, they're downright regular as a bowel movement. Think of the last game you bought on the PS3 that didn't have a 1.01 update of about 16 megabytes. No, seriously, try. It was a mechanism to prevent those that could play the game early on something like debug units from breaking the game for everyone else, and indeed it was a wise piracy move. But it's had another effect: it's conditioned us to expect that there will be updates to the software.

Normally, these are small, rudimentary updates -- the stuff of small bug fixes and perhaps a balance change or two -- or they were just meant to lock out early players. In the case of Gran Turismo 5, however, things are... different. The updates thus far have seemingly been purely based on complaints from the community. The first few seemed to add the very functionality professed by the devs and publishing team leading up to the release of the game, from damage across all modes (like online) to allowing more players to compete online.

The latest, though (1.05 as of this review), has been the most reactive of the releases, adding online experience and money rewards for races, bringing in the ability to play PD-designed Seasonal Events, and more. The latest patch is, in fact, a direct response to people complaining about the absolutely soul-crushing amount of grinding that was present before.
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