Gran Turismo has always been, for me, the premiere and class leading realistic driving game. The developer, Polyphony Digital, has made us wait 6 years for the next iteration of the series. Being involved in the automotive industry and media for most of my professional career and the passion I feel about driving, expectations for Gran Turismo 5 were very high. GT5 was suppose to be the be-all end-all of driving games. So how did it do?
GT5 definitely nails the driving simulation aspects. The driving physics are absolutely great and completely unforgiving. Extreme precision is needed to move your car down a track quickly and I really like that. The premium vehicle models and tracks look amazing. The vehicle selection is plentiful. If you’re a car nut, GT5 gives you a lot to love, but the game as a whole goes rapidly downhill from there.
The menu system is confusing, inconsistent, and generally a complete mess. The damage model is almost entirely invisible and doesn’t affect the performance of your vehicle. The progression system is outdated and uninspiring. About 800 of the 1000 vehicles in the game are low quality models carried over from previous games and look terrible. The vehicle upgrade and customization systems have little to no depth.
Just when you think nothing else could go wrong, something of epic proportions does. When I’m really driving, whether it’s competitively or casually, the one thing I always feel is the passion, excitement, and ownership of every action I perform and every situation I experience. It’s an event that truly moves my soul. Some could argue you could never get that feedback from any game and they have a point, but there are games that somehow show this is possible. Forza Motorsports 3 makes you feel connected on an emotional level to your vehicle because you have to build a relationship with it through Forza’s extensive upgrade and customization system in order to perform optimally. When you get it right, you feel that connection.
And there in lies the biggest problem of all. Yes, GT5 drives accurately. Yes, GT5 looks amazing. Yes, GT5 has so many cars and tracks that it makes your head spin. But at the end of the day, what you have here is a technical marvel that’s entirely soulless and simply lacks the fun you should be having. Not only are you disconnected from the game, you get the sense the developers are completely disconnected from what the gamer wants. They spent so much time making this thing driving perfection, that they completely forgot about the emotion. I wanted to love it so much, but Gran Turismo 5 turned out to be one of the most disappointing games I have ever played.