Cars have always fascinated me since childhood. I still remember those days when I used to play arcade sims like Road Rash and Need for Speed II whole day long. Being an avid follower of the NFS franchise, I was more familiar with arcade games, games in which the way you drive never mattered, only goal was to come first no matter what.
But games like Gran Turismo belong to a different category. They need perfection: brake too late and your car ends up in the barriers, speed up in the corner, and you will over steer. The latest and the greatest (as they say) car racing simulator is here with a new addition to their lineup, Gran Turismo 6. With decades old legacy behind it, will it really live up to the hype? Well, let us see.
Release Date: December 6, 2013
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Available Formats: PS3
Having played GT5 extensively, I was expecting a lot from GT6. Well, I am delighted to see that they have bettered the already awesome handling from its predecessor, but I am disappointed as well. Jagged texture issues, Robotic AI, lack of damage (which was always disappointing when it came to GT!). The AI needs to simulate the obvious real-world actions such as blocking your racing line, trying to overtake you in each possible way, and as a game that’s meant to be a real world driving sim. It is not as challenging as it should have been. But anyways, these things are minor as compared to the better things this game offers.
The game starts off with directly putting you in the seat of a Renault Clio RS on Brands Hatch Circuit. You have to complete a basic set of tutorials which help you get acquainted on how GT works, especially if you are new to the series, it definitely helps a lot.
Once you complete all the tutorials, the real fun begins. Though what I didn’t like is being forced to buy a lousy hatch, the Honda Fit with my hard owned money (not literally). That car is like a bread on wheels.
Game modes include circuit races, city circuits (which were really great!) 5 minute races, etc. There are nearly 37 tracks in total, with 71 available layouts, though mostly are carried over from GT5. The city circuits include London, Rome, and Tokyo. There are other mini game modes which include coffee cup challenges, tumbling the cones, and my favorite Goodwood Festival of speed. Also, you get to drive on the moon, courtesy of NASA!
Polyphony Digital team have done a wonderful job of improving the racing dynamics of the vehicles which was already great in the previous version. The tinkering of the suspension can surely affect the way the car behaves on turns by a huge margin, go on a curb and feel your back end go haywire (no not haywire, I over-exaggerated it).
The new addition to this version is night racing. The lighting is just great, though this also results in a drop of frame rate, though not by a huge margin, but it suffers. You can see the stars as well as the moon moving as the race progresses, just as in real life.
The loading times for the race vary, but I feel they were always on a higher side, or maybe I am used to playing games straight from the HDD. Though the mandatory day one update patch seems to have shoved off some seconds of the loading time, it still seems high. But, once you are in the race, and you need to restart, it does it immediately.
The AI could have been better, much better. It feels as if the race is scripted, absolutely no challenges from AI while overtaking, follow a strict route. There has to be some difference, at least when you restart. What I came across is that the AI follows exact same pattern, when I restarted, I expected some change.
One thing I wish to complain to team polyphony is that, why are we always on the last place on the track? Apart from certain go karting events (which did not have rolling starts) I always started last on the grid. Not that it is much of an issue as I could catch up with the lousy AI in a lap, but still, giving unfair advantage to AI is just mean!
The damage modelling is almost non-existent. May be this was deliberate as the cars would be in the barriers more as compared to driving on the road. But come on, this is 2013, when every other racing genre has a damage model incorporated in them, why not GT6. Even when you hit a barrier at 100 mph, you will only end up getting a minor scratch, so not done!
The new overhauled menu system is way better than the messed up navigation system in GT5. Everything is neatly laid up. There is a gallery for viewing your photos, the garage where you can see the cars you own, then there is an online mode for online play, arcade mode where you can be a king of your own streets. The thing I liked is that, apart from the normal car dealerships, there is a “recommended car” option, which can help you choose some cars which will be suitable for the particular license modes. This can be really useful, as I ended up purchasing a car which was not at all suitable for the races, and as a result, I had no credits left to upgrade or even buy a new car. I still am unable to figure out the need of having a “pit service” option in the menu. It is like servicing your car, which includes washing, oil change, restore rigidity, etc. I felt that was completely unnecessary.
The license system is back, yay! You need to earn the stars, which will in turn open the license mode. It consists of five to six races and you have to complete each race before proceeding to the next one. This is very important as it gives you a feel of what you may experience in the next level. The credits given at the start are very less, maybe because Polyphony wanted to promote their “micro-transactions”. This option is for those “impatient” types who cannot wait to get their hands on the best cars early in the game by spending some cash, yes, real money! I, for one, would earn my cars and not just buy them.
The in-game sound effects are really a joke. It seems polyphony team was way too busy managing the physics and rendering cars, they almost forgot to put in real life sound effects to the cars. The roar of the V8 engine for example sounds like a lawn mower or a blender. They definitely could have done a lot better in this department, considering how games like Forza and Grid have almost real life sounding exhaust notes. Anyways, you will be too busy managing to keep the car on the track, that the sound effects will not be that bothersome.
Sadly, I was unable to try out the multiplayer much, thanks to high pings on my internet connection. Maybe when I get my fiber optic, which I am expecting soon, I can update on this front.