Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gran Turismo 5 - First Impressions

John Marine | 6/16/2011 05:46:00 PM | |
I had spent a good amount of time playing Gran Turismo 5 now. I feel I have enough experience to chat about this game professionally to all of you. I'm personally sorry it has taken this long for me to evaluate Gran Turismo 5 after having played it recently. This blog post concerns my first impressions of Gran Turismo 5 after having played the FULL version for a few days. Please note this is not about the kiosk demo. This blog post is my own evaluation of Gran Turismo 5 after playing the full game. Having said this, you deserve to read my first impressions.

NOTE: As of this blog post, I have not yet prepared my review of Gran Turismo 5. I am actually torn between posting the review on "John's Blog Space" and/or "John's Gran Turismo Space." I prefer posting the review on John's Gran Turismo Space, but I haven't yet decided from this initial blog post.

My review of "Gran Turismo 5" can be read here: GT5 Review on "John's Gran Turismo Space"!

--- Gran Turismo 5: Setting up the Story ---
While it took me some time to get my PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5, I eventually got both this past Saturday. Most of what I've experienced with GT5 was in YouTube videos and other online material. I must say I have been fairly pleased seeing content posted online. I've even made a habit of looking at YouTube videos featuring songs from GT5.

With a game that's been released since November 2010, it's taken me nearly seven months to finally join the PS3 brigade. I felt that this long wait has hampered my ability in making YouTube videos, blog posts, and more. Any and all comments I may make regarding Gran Turismo 5 were reserved until I had actually played the game. Now, playing this game since Saturday, I feel I have played just enough to professionally discuss this game.

Believe it or not... I actually had doubts with Gran Turismo 5 based on how the general public reacted to it. Most of what I heard/read was more along the lines of "good, but not great." Many others were disappointed with it. Some others even fancy the Forza Motorsport series and leave behind Gran Turismo 5. I still remain a GT fan no matter what Forza (which I vastly respect) throws out. I still needed to play the game myself before thinking ANYTHING of GT5.

So let me share my first impressions at long last.

--- Gran Turismo 5: First Impressions ---
Gran Turismo 5
My first Race Modified car- a 2002 Nissan Silvia Spec R Aero painted in Eternal Blue Pearl (the car) and Gran Turismo Yellow (the wheels).
Gran Turismo 5 comes across as a title which provides a new experience for most GT fans. Online play, which was to be promised in GT4 before eventually being scrapped, was a real talking point for GT5. It has played a real role in enhancing GT5 for what it is. The fact the PS3 is basically both a console and a computer means that GT5 can be upgraded and enhanced.

Even before I downloaded the Version 1.10 update, most of what I have played was very good. The experience only got better after downloading the Version 1.10 update. It was worth the three hours for all six parts of the download to be complete.

Playing the Game.

Most of my time was spent in GT Mode. I could only choose one entire outfit prior to the 1.10 update. This meant I had to pick something I'd have to be with and live with through my career in Gran Turismo 5. After the 1.10 Update, however, you could choose between a vast array of suits and helmets. to compliment you and your drivers.

Driving and Racing.

GT4's driving model never allowed you to really get aggressive. GT5's model is much different and much better. In fact, I would say that this is the best driving model in any Gran Turismo game. There is actually greater challenge in racing cars than in any GT game. Cars just felt too heavy in GT4. Not so much in GT5. It used to be that there was an Standard Model and a Professional model in handling a car. That's gone. All cars are on the Professional level. Front-wheel drive cars handle much better than they did in other GTs. Rear-wheel drive cars can be better pushed to the limit than in any other GT. Four-wheel drive cars do a fairly great job of handling whether on-road or off-road. In addition, it is much tougher trying to keep high-powered cars on the road. Even an elementary school kid could race a Jaguar XJ220 to the limit in GT4. However, try wrestling a Pagani Zonda R or a very fast Ferrari in GT5. It is NOT easy!

Another element of the driving model are the new damage and collision models.. When you crash, impacts can range from simple whacks to vicious 360° crashes as well as rolling your car over. Only Premium cars can suffer extensive damage.

New to GT are time cycles and weather. You begin to notice the sun go down on select tracks as day gives way to night. You actually notice falling rain and snow at times in certain locations. It is the first time where falling precipitation has been featured in any Gran Turismo game. Let this be said- night racing is HARD in Gran Turismo 5! You'll know how hard it is when you can barely see the road ahead of you in the dark. Having said this, it's the best night racing ever in a Gran Turismo game. It's real night racing compared to the somewhat dark racing you're used to in past GT titles.

The Cars.

A big part of any Gran Turismo game is cars, and GT5 has plenty. There are about 200 Premium cars and some 700+ Standard cars. What you are looking at for GT5 is mostly Premium cars that you can go get right away. Among Standard cars, however, you basically have to be lucky to find one you really like. So it's almost like you HAVE to buy Premium.

The Premium cars feature interior views and are modeled much better than the mostly carryover cars from GT4 (Standard models). The Standard cars, however, have all been re-touched for GT5. Many people are going to complain that more Premiums can be made. Considering each car took about six months to create and with 200 or so of them, it's understandable why so many Standard cars were carried over. Just because they are Standard, though, doesn't mean they can't be fun to race. Some of them you can even race in GT5 when you couldn't race them against others in GT4. For example, I did a practice One-Make Race in GT5 with the Caterham Fireblade. The Caterham was a "Special Model" in GT4, so you couldn't race it against five other cars in GT4. You can race these in GT5 against many others. In addition, you can race them with fully animated visible drivers!

The Tracks.

When preparing this blog post, I absolutely FORGOT to mention the tracks. There are tracks both new and old in GT5. Cape Ring is one of the newest courses along with more variations of Eiger Nordwand (apart from Gran Turismo HD). There is a new Special Stage Route 7 which will make you fans of illegal street racing in Tokyo happy. Some tracks, like Rome and Chamonix return... but with configurations different from their classic tracks. The Rome track is now a punishing street course with more elevation changes than the classic Rome Circuit. Chamonix is wider, but is a completely different deal from GT4's version of the narrow nightmare known as Chamonix. Each track is done very nicely and features some great scenery.

Tuning and Maintenance.

More than ever, there are more ways to make a car much better than stock. A few new options are now available apart from past GT titles. New items such as Exhaust Manifolds, piece-by-piece weight reduction, and more can be equipped to cars. There are also new options in tuning your cars. One of the biggest ones is the Engine Limiter. This can be helpful in tuning down powerful cars to meet performance limits for races. Races can be restricted by horsepower or Performance Points (PP). Make sure you meet these restrictions to be eligible to compete in certain races and championships.

GT Auto returns for its third-ever installment. The funny thing about GT Auto is how lighthearted it is. You will hear "The Entertainer" from Scott Joplin as the GT Auto song. It is not the kind of music you'd expect to hear for something like an auto goods store, but it is a nice song to fit the mood of the lighthearted appeal of GT Auto. Racing Modifications return for Gran Turismo 5 after being M.I.A. in GT3 and GT4. Sadly, only 17 or 19 cars (all Premium) can take advantage of this. Many cars can still take advantage of aero parts (especially Premium). You can now paint over cars with Paint Items you find based on cars you acquire. You can use these color items to re-color cars. If you have a Premium car, you can even change wheels and be able to re-paint them too using Paint Items.

Sounds and Music.

Sound quality is vastly improved. There are more throaty growls even though some cars could have had better sounds. The weak link in sounds are in collisions with other cars. Human voices are also added to a few applications. When you win a license or get some insight from real racers (Jeff Gordon and Sebastien Loeb are featured), you'll hear human voices. It's the first GT to feature actual human voices since Jay Leno's voice was heard in Gran Turismo PSP.

Let me just say this about the music... it's great! Most of your time spent in this game will be listening to the 189 different songs included. If you don't care for the music included with GT5, you can always go with music stored on your PS3's hard drive. This is music you can listen to in races as well as Menu Music. Gran Turismo 5 boasts the classiest music of all. Listen to songs like "Passion" from Yuki Oike, "Like a Bird" from KEMMEI, and songs like that. There are seven genres of music in GT5: Alternative, Bossanova, Classical, Dance/Electronic, Jazz, Lounge, and Rock. Songs selected can be played in races, in the menus, and/or in slideshows.

Other Elements.

I like the new kind of character GT5 has. The usage of cut scenes in some of the Special Events give the game a different kind of character than past GT titles have exhibited. Actual material like this has helped to make Gran Turismo 5 a bit more indulgent than any other GT. • Racing Modifications, while few cars can take advantage of them, are great to see when complete. Even more so considering you can color up cars so that you don't have to have the plain white colors. Cars that may not take advantage of Racing Modifications may still have certain aero kits to help dress cars up. Always interesting to see what parts are available and how they look when added. This is more beneficial to Premium cars. And of course, ONLY Premium cars can have Racing Modifications. The most you may get with a Standard is just a simple rear wing. This system in GT5 is more advanced than simply adding a rear wing in Gran Turismo 4.

Online (based on the V 1.10 Update).

You can share your material with friends in GT5. You can even send/receive items to/from friends to help enhance your GT experience. Online lobbies allow you to compete in special competitions specifically set up by others. Seasonal Events are an extension of the in-game championships and races. This way, you never feel like you've raced everything. There is even an Online Dealership where you can get some of the more unique and rare cars. You never run out of things to do and see online through GT5.

--- Gran Turismo 5: Final Thoughts ---
There may have been two or three Forza Motorsport games between GT4 and GT5. There may have been people who were pleased with GT5 for the most part, and then those disappointed for the most part. In no way do I have high expectations or believe in high expectations. I don't believe in expectations. Not once did I think that five years to enhance a game means it better be unworldly awesome. My only expectations- to have a PS3, to have GT5, to be able to know how to operate both... and then let the game tell me what it's about rather than read/hear from other people.

My first impressions of Gran Turismo 5 are excellent, especially after downloading the Version 1.10 update. Everything about GT5 is just wonderful in my estimation. I do sort of wish the whole Standard and Premium issue was better sorted. I truly understand the whole deal regarding Premium cars. So therefore, I am not going to protest that all cars be made Premium. I do find myself racing more Premium cars because (I admit) I'm drawn to Premium more than Standard cars. The biggest disappointment for me with this game... My Chemical Romance and the intro. Let me just say this- "Moon Over the Castle" is the intro and SHOULD be the intro to Gran Turismo. Don't stick in My Chemical Romance just to please certain "fanboys." I'd rather hear "Moon Over the Castle" than whatever song My Chemical Romance came up with to be the opening song.

Other than that, only minor complaints for a game I've wanted to play for seven months. I hope this game gets better with more content and various updates. Oh... there is maybe one more disappointment with the game- some of the short championships make it seem like everything is over too quickly. Maybe that's one thing I'm real disappointed about in the structuring of GT5 races. Otherwise, I am vastly impressed with GT5 after having to wait so long to finally play and enjoy this game.

My review of Gran Turismo 5 will be posted on "John's Gran Turismo Space." My own thoughts and commentary on GT5 will be posted on JGTS. It will be a proper review of various elements of GT5. Once it is complete, a link will be provided below this paragraph.

Read my review of "Gran Turismo 5" on John's Gran Turismo Space (JGTS)

For now, thank you for reading! :)

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