I have always held high expectations for Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo franchise and it’s one of the reasons why I am always intrigued with each new entry into the long running series. Featuring over one thousand cars and several tracks, Polyphony Digital’s aim and desire with Gran Turismo 6 falls a bit short from excellence.
The first thing that you will immediately notice in Gran Turismo 6 is the shorter installation and load times. If you owned a copy of Gran Turismo 5 then it’s needless to say that everything was laggy and horrendously slow. Cars and tracks took ages to load and it was a long wait just to get inside the main user interface. This is not to say that the load times are incredibly shorter in Gran Turismo 6 but it won’t leave you stranded for minutes like the previous iteration.
The user interface is much better this time around in Gran Turismo 6. Everything that the game has to offer is arranged well and you won’t need to work to search for the mode you want to play. Given that the amount of content on offer here very closely borders on the verge of insanity, it is indeed a good thing that the developer worked out the interface.
You will be spending a ton of your time playing the Career mode in Gran Turismo 6, which is expansive, challenging and at the same time extremely addictive. It really is nothing but a series of races grouped into different licensed sections and you’ll need to complete a set number of races in each section before the next license level gets unlocked. This concept may sound simple on paper but the inclusion of stars, trophies and credits encourages the player to sit for hours just so that he or she can buy the next most capable car.
In between the licensed races, you may be invited to several special events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Lunar races. The former pits you in exquisite cars and tests the player in several time trials which will push both your handling and driving skills. In order to keep things interesting, the game does not unlock all special events from the start and is dependent on how you perform in the licensed races. This makes sure that the player is always indulged into something unique each time while ultimately working towards something fruitful.
There is also a solid arcade mode that offers players to drive the best cars across exotic circuits without the grinding that you would normally do in the license mode. Then there is the Lunar racing event which puts you in a lunar rover. The objectives for this event are fairly simple. Reach point A to point B whilst avoiding crashing into spatial stones. I’m no space expert but the moon’s gravity affecting the rover’s speed and physics seems to be accurately modeled and I found these modes to be pretty satisfying in terms of realism.
It wouldn’t be a Gran Turismo game without the cars. The game features over one thousand cars and some of them are stunningly detailed. If you are still haunted by GT5’s poor car textures and shabby cockpits then you will be pleased to know that the cars here, especially the premium ones, look absolutely gorgeous. Polyphony have totally reworked the physics engine for Gran Turismo 6 and it immediately shows in the way you handle the cars.
G-forces will pull you the opposite way when you are taking quick turns. Go in quickly and centrifugal force will try and pull the car in the opposite direction. It is an unexplainable yet jaw dropping sight when your car goes off the track, raising dust in the air. Racing when the sun is setting down offers an astonishing view especially in tracks like Silverstone and not to mention the view while racing at night which requires extreme concentration. However, this bump in visuals is somewhat balanced by the fuzzier shadows of the cars, which are a step down from GT5.
Backing up the awesome car graphics is the engine sound, both yours and that of rival cars. Whether you are driving a Pagani Zonda or a Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision is tailing you, the sound of roaring engines at full throttle is something that you want to hear over and over again.
You can customize cars to your heart’s desire and there are literally hundreds of options from changing the appearance to upgrading aerodynamics. Tune your engine, add more gears or completely overhaul the handling – I found the customization to be much more expansive than that of GT5 .
Unfortunately, the tracks in Gran Turismo 6 lack life and are plain boring. There is nothing wrong with them technically but they often feel deserted with next to no crowds. Although it does not take anything away from the on track experience, it may affect players who appreciate lively surroundings. Another point worth noting is the AI is pretty dumb. Your rivals will put in no effort to push their vehicles around corners, giving you easy passage if you are good at late breaking. And yes, the damage modeling still sucks.
Then there is the multiplayer which has a couple of modes like Drifting, Practice Rounds and racing against 16 players. As mentioned earlier, the interface makes it easier to get into games but given the overall size of the single player campaign, it’s doubtful whether players will be rushing to play online any time soon.
Gran Turismo 6 seems to have stuck just in the nick of time. It neither advances nor backtracks on the franchise and is still an excellent game that shouldn’t be missed by any PlayStation 3 owner. However, the franchise is no longer the “real driving simulator” it used to be. The revamped physics engine and variety in modes are some great steps forward but the introduction of micro-transactions is an equally bad one. Given the content on offer here, at the end of the day, GT6 is a very hard choice to resist. It just won’t end up being as memorable as previous entries in the series, for better or worse.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.