For most console gamers, Call of Duty or FIFA is their preferred title of domination. Entering into online competition with these people is fraught with danger, as any rash venture into an open clearing results in instantaneous assassination and exclamations of ‘Where was he camping?!’ Similarly, you may win 2-0 on FIFA in a brilliantly-fought game, but you can’t stop the other person from forfeiting early, thus voiding your victory.
Whilst my contemporaries were stringing together kills during Capture the Flag or firing in goals against Manchester City, I was trying to duck under the 6 minute 30 second barrier on the Nurburgring in GT5. Many hours of my late-‘teens were spent playing with the toe-out, castor and rebound rates on the suspension of my virtual Evo VI in order to make the car that little bit faster (yet I never got any cooler; weird, that). You can therefore imagine my excitement when I heard that GT6 was to be released as one of the PS3’s last titles before its replacement by the PS4.
As life got in the way of me buying it, I bided my time by playing GRID 2. Twice. After paying a measly £10 for the game, I expected much the same of the first GRID: vibrant visuals, realistic dynamics and frankly ferocious crashes. The result was beyond disappointing: the loss of the in-car view, ridiculously rubber-banded AI and twitchy steering made me sell it after owning the game for one week. You know a game is awful when it encourages you to drift around a corner ‘because it’s the fastest method’. In summary, you would have more fun buying GRID 2 just to throw it onto a bonfire than actually playing it. I soon returned to GT5 to pass the time.
Anyway, I digress. Finally I got my hands on GT6, and my initial impressions of the game were those of evolution instead of revolution. Users of previous games in the series will recognise the clear displays and menu settings, as well as the awkwardly-90’s, arcadey piano/synth music that permeates every menu. Nevertheless, so far so good.
Visually, the game looks incredible for a seven year-old console. The interior detail of cars is nothing short of pedantic, either – carbon weave is shown to glittering effect and reflections bring out the surfacing in the paint. Depth of frame is noticeable, as in the short cinematic before the start of a race your car is framed in sharp focus as opposed to the slightly fuzzy appearance of others. This isn’t really a problem, however, as the cars are rendered properly once the lights go green.
Of much greater importance is the physics engine, which has been remodelled since the days of GT5. Cars noticeably dive into corners and squat under breaking, with even the odd control arm and anti-roll bar being visible on cars with standard suspension. As to be expected by the game, there is a noticeable difference in driving a standard Honda Fit around a track versus an M3 GT around Spa. This strong point seen in past GTs is highlighted to great effect here and really makes it enjoyable for a sim-loving car geek like myself.
|You can even take part in the Goodwood FoS – yes!|
Sony has tried to make the game more accessible to newbies by including skid reduction and automatic braking systems, as well as racing line indicators, into all modes. Thankfully, these can be turned off. Despite these concessions, Gran Turismo is still a tricky game. If you drive like a mong, you will be pinged off the track. Just like in real life, braking, accelerating and steering have to be done smoothly and often individually for your lap times to improve. This isn’t Need for Speed: Rivals, and it’s refreshing to see a franchise that has largely resisted the need to ‘dumb down’ its products for a wider market.
Nevertheless, the game does have some flaws. Ignoring the unrealistic damage modelling that Forza does much better, my main bugbear is to do with the car selection. Whilst a catalogue of desirable cars have been added, there are still too many out-of-date models and cars which do not have an interior view option. For starters, who wants to drive a 2003 Vectra? Why wouldn’t you have an interior view of a E46 M3? The game’s Japanese bias is also inherent as, for example, there are more than 7 different variants of the Subaru Impreza, yet no Ferrari F50, for example. The mind boggles.
In summary, then, GT6 is still the best game out there in terms of realistic racing. Toying with suspension and gearing settings can have a drastic affect on your race pace, as they rightfully should. It’s also immensely rewarding to save up the credits and buy yourself a brand-new 458, even though your tuned R33 GT-R will monster it. Whilst it takes longer to master than Need for Speed, it’s the best racer on PlayStation because of that. A game that rewards patient practice is better than one that you can master in an afternoon.