Driving In Circles
There will be plenty of callbacks to Gran Turismo 5 in this review. It’s hard not to when it was such a key title in the PlayStation 3 library. The hype built for years, and the game was highly anticipated by fans, only to miss the mark in a number of ways. What Polyphony Digital has done here is take all aspects of Gran Turismo 5 and for the most part they’ve been improved because the game had a shaky foundation. Gone is the slow, cumbersome UI, replaced with a sleek looking streamlined UI that is quick to navigate. Getting from tuning menu to car garage and into a race is quicker than in any other racing game. You are able to select a car, tune it, upgrade it, and start racing from just about anywhere in the menu system. It is wonderfully fast and easy.
Career mode certainly has been giving a tuning and is better balanced. You now make your way through 6 series, each with events and championships broken up into 3 or more races. As you complete races, content will be unlocked. This content isn’t purely cosmetic as it also includes side races designed to break up the action. Coffee breaks and manufacturer races have returned, a fun feature that was in Gran Turismo 4 but absent in GT5. The coffee break mode lets you take part in fun (sometimes frustrating) activities such as busting through cones in order to get a high score. In each racing series, once you have obtained enough stars you can do the license test to go onto the next series of races. If horrible memories of the required license tests from the past games are coming back to you, fear not; These tests are much easier and forgiving. They are there to teach the basics and proper driving techniques. The tests are just challenging enough to give you that motivation to want to get the gold medals on them.
There are things that have not changed for the better or even at all. One of them is the artificial intelligence. As you move onto the more challenging racing series, the A.I. simply gets faster around corners. Their driving skill does not improve, and I am beginning to think this is one racing series where the A.I. will never be good. Still always content with driving one line, and rarely overtaking each other the A.I. also never seems to notice you. I have lost count of the times I had been rear ended while on a straight part of the track, only to be spun out and brushed aside as the A.I. hurdled forward not even remotely aware that I was there. This has always been an issue for this series and it is frustrating to see that it has reared its ugly head once again. This can make the career mode frustrating at times, as Gran Turismo 6 forces you to live with your mistakes, or even incidents that are completely out of your control. Screwed up the last turn on the final lap causing you to go into the grass? Too bad, you are starting over again if you wanted first place. There are no options to set the difficulty, no rewind mechanic, no way to recover from mistakes other than your own skill or resetting the race, which by the way is not allowed in championship races.
One good thing about Gran Turismo that you can always look forward to is the overwhelming amount of content. The car list has been beefed up to over 1200 cars now, with over 37 track locations to drive them on. This includes going for a ride on the moon. Yes, you read that correctly. The moon. The premium car list was the focus this time, with a handful of standard cars added. Over 120 new premium cars, even better looking and more detailed than Gran Turismo 5’s list. Many of the standard cars, while still not sporting interior views, have had their exterior views greatly updated and look much better. The new tracks are amazing too. Mount Panorama, Silverstone, Spa, Brands Hatch, and more. All of the new race tracks have day and night cycles with weather. A few of the previous tracks include day and night cycles too. I was very happy to see Daytona with this, now all we need is the Grand-Am prototype race cars and I can simulate the 24 hours of Daytona in real time. Gran Turismo 6 allows for some amazing racing possibilities with a creative mind. Want to do this online with 15 of your friends? The online racing is faster and more streamlined too, giving you all of the flexibility that you need to create track day events, qualifying races, and championships.
The main thing for Gran Turismo 6 was that it took more steps forward then it did backwards. I am pleased to say that it took many more steps forward, and very few steps backwards. Unfortunately it’s not all great as in some cases there is simply stagnation. In the grand scheme, it’s hard not to feel that GT6 is simply a very large DLC pack for GT5. The amount of content, how streamlined it all is, and the attention to detail in everything almost makes this worth the price of admission. Everything from seasonal events, online and career making up the bulk of the major features; then there are the minor features like driving on the moon, the GoodWood Festival events, taking photos of tracks and cars, buying racing gear and outfitting your driver, tuning cars and adding modifications to them (although there is still no livery editor). GT6 is one part racing simulation, one part car collecting game, and one part enthusiasm for everything automotive.