Monday, December 27, 2010

Gran Turismo 5 : why it sucks

Gran Turismo 5 has been out for a while now for the PS3. I picked it up on launch day but then sold it on Amazon's used list only two weeks later. Why?
A number of reasons. I've been a big fan of Gran Turismo on the Playstation since I first played GT2. It was an awesome racing game at the time. Unfortunately, successive versions have simply added more eye candy and nothing else. GT5 is almost stunning to look at - if you can overlook the hideous jagged shadows and the pop-up (where things just blink into existence as you're driving). Certain screenshots and replays could easily be mistaken for real photos or videos. The problem is that the developers spent 6 years working on how the game looks, without altering the mechanic of how the game plays. Polyphony Digital have spent tens of thousands of hours concentrating on every last detail of the interior and exterior of 200 of the available 1000 cars, which makes for amazing static photos, but at the expense of fixing the two biggest problems with the whole GT franchise.
First - the AI. The computer-controlled drivers are dumber than a box of rocks. They drive on rails, following the identical line around the track line a train. If you're in their way, they simply crash into you. They have no concept that you even exist and when coupled with the second big problem - lack of crash damage - it makes the game essentially no fun. They're not penalised for touching the cones on the test tracks, and they never spin out when you touch them. However, when they drive into you, you spin, flip, crash and lose control.
So yes - the second big issue is crash damage, or lack of it. Polyphony made a great deal of noise about their all-new crash damage model but in reality, it's pointless and useless. In career mode, it comes on in stages, and you don't really get their "full" crash damage until your driver level reaches 40 (although you can get at it straight away in Arcade mode). At this point, it's still a total joke - you can't ever damage a car to the point where it becomes undriveable. The radiator never overheats, the steering never pulls to one side or the other, the windscreen never gets smashed, you can't rip off wheels or blow tyres. In essence, you can ram your car into the wall at 160mph, bounce off and then go on to win the race. This has always been a problem with the Gran Turismo games and it's not improved in GT5. The apologists will tell you that a real driving simulator is about driving, not crashing, which is absolutely true. But if you get too close to the car in front, or lose the back end in a turn, then the simulation ought to penalise you for it in the form of realistic mechanical and visible damage to the vehicle. Without this, there's no incentive to learn to master the game's different cars and tracks.
The screenshot accompanying this blog entry shows just how appalling the problem is. This is the result of slamming an Audi R8 into a wall at 160mph with the "full" damage enabled. Needless to say, I bounced off and drove on to win the race.
Multiple updates have not addressed these two core issues and I think Polyphony really don't understand how to fix either problem. After all, it's been this way since Gran Turismo 2, and THAT is the problem for me. The game looks stunning for the most part, but it simply isn't any fun to play. Need For Speed:Shift, or Forza 3, or GRiD or DiRT - all undoubtedly more arcade racers than simulation, but all infinitely more FUN to play.



djm_85 said...

Yea I agree entirely, it looks amazing but is really boring to play. NASCAR part of it was cool.

Anonymous said...

Couln't agree more. I bought the collectors' edition and played it quite a lot until I realized I wasn't having any fun, just playing to win races to collect cars that I would never drive. That's the definition of stupidity: waste your time in something that doesn't bring anything good with it.

It's a shame for the level of detail, but honestly I only had some fun with the B-spec mode and some very balanced races in A-spec where the AI actually seemed challenging, but that's too little for a game so time-demanding.

Anonymous said...

`and you don't really get their "full" crash damage until your driver level reaches 40 (although you can get at it straight away in Arcade mode)'

That turned out to be just a malicious rumour! Really the damage is poor throughout in A-Spec.

I think a review said that this was a `10/10 driving simulator wrapped in a 5/10 game', and I think in so many respects this inconsistency drags the game down.

It's interesting to read the posts on gtplanet where gt fans have really started running out of things to do and have had to resort to Heath-Robinson contraptions on their controllers to automatically win A-space races and repeat so they can build up xp to even get to level 40! It even works if the car has to get round an oval by continually bashing into the wall, such is the lack of damage modelling!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything you said with the exception of the graphics. Yes the premium cars are stunning, but their shadows are still terrible. And the standard cars are just plain awful. The tracks seem beautiful until you start to carefully look. Look sideways out the car to realize the trees are terrible cardboard box cutouts that repeat every "15 feet". I've noticed when looking sideways to see a passing car. It's still fun but anyone that says GT5 is better than Forza 3 is blind.


Yeah, GT5 has completely neutered many of the tracks, rather realistically of course, except from the drivers angle all you can see are barriers and not the beautifully rendered environments, unless you play in the third angle view. Equally, unless you play in the third angle view, the engine sounds are muffled and sound completely boring. What annoys me most is that the old banked corners at monza have been beautifully rendered, more nicely than the rest of the track, but then are blocked off by invisible barriers. I know its really lame to point this out, but just go look at those banked corners in the game! I know they havnt been driven on since 1961, but ffs cant the guys at GT have abit of imagination, and try to make the driving experience more immersive? It just feels extremely toned down, especially after playing gpl. I used to be a hardcore GT fan until I played that game!

Anonymous said...

Forza 3, an Arcade racer? What are you smoking?

Anonymous said...


there is NO...

300ZX Z31 1984-89
3000GT 1991-93
200SX S12
200SX S110

pretty much NO 80s cars or Jassic cars {Japanese+classic}-cars

even if there is YOU CANT really customize them! ive been playing GT since 1998,but NOT ANYMORE! FORZA FTW!!!

Anonymous said...

They don't even have the original full Monza course on there....

Anonymous said...

Why in the h*ll would I go buy a game and then have to sit there while the computer drives the car for me? Why would it ever at any time think i wanted that? Stupidest thing I've ever seen.