Since the early days of the PS1, racing fans everywhere have had one franchise to turn to when it came to the most realistic racing experience possible – Gran Turismo. Now with the release of Gran Turismo on the PS3, fans can see how far the series has come. In a market that has more than a fair share of racing games, GT6 makes its mark on the genre by keeping its driving mechanics as authentic as possible to the real world, but its biggest selling point quickly becomes its biggest deterrent as it takes away a lot of the escapism that racing games offer. Not only that, but the game itself has its fair share of problems that overall combine with its lack of spark and life, result in a game that just isn’t very exciting for those outside of its niche demographic.
At its core, Gran Turismo 6 is a pure racing simulator. You pick a car and get to racing. Like the other GT games, Gran Turismo 6 features a buynch of tracks to speed along, each filled with their own unique history and appeal. Racing fans will get a kick out of speeding down their favourite racetracks in their own personal $100,00 racing machines.
It has become an industry standard for racing games to map the acceleration and break to the trigger buttons. This is because the triggers on the PS3 and Xbox 360 controller are analogue and let you manually control your speed. GT6 instead goes the other way and by default has the acceleration mapped to the X button. This really limits the amount of control you have over your vehicle, and also feels unintuitive and uncomfortable compared to other games in the genre.
Gran Turismo 6 offers two different single-player experiences; Campaign and Arcade Mode. Campaign Mode has you just starting out as a driver, and slowly climbing up the ranks to make a name for yourself (which has become such a tired racing game cliché that it is almost painful to go through). Here you will earn points to unlock more cars as you ascend in the racing world.
If there is something that Gran Turismo 6 has; it is a lot of cars. With over 1200 available for you to drive, you are almost guaranteed to find your dream car sitting there, begging you to take her for a spin. Here is the catch though; you have to buy almost every car, nothing is given away and it can take a considerable amount of time before you have accrued enough points to buy the car of your dreams.
The fact that it can take so much grinding to unlock a car makes the game feel a lot like a feemium mobile title. The shop layout is very reminiscent of those free to play mobile games, and honestly cheapens the whole experience. Worse than that is the fact that microtransactions very much part of the game. Don’t want to earn your car, just buy it! Microtransactions are frustrating enough in free to play games, but after dropping full retail on a console title, they are downright insulting.
I can’t harp too much on the microtransactions however, as they are pretty tactfully hidden from the casual player. Unless you actively go looking for them, you likely wont see them anywhere in the game. There is no prompt or pop-up reminding you that they are there, and they are more of an option than a necessity. The microtransactions only really affect the campaign mode, as arcade is a different beast all together.
Arcade mode makes you feel like you are sitting back in your local Arcade, putting a few coins into the machine to race against your friends. You get to select the track you want to race on, the car to drive and even things like the weather conditions and the amount of laps to race (up to 99). It is definitely more fun than the campaign mode, but suffers from its own problems. The biggest problem is that you only have around 20 cars to choose from, so all those cars you have unlocked in the campaign are unusable here. 20 is a fair number of cars, but considering the roster of 1200, it feels bare bones.
The other big problem is that you are always put in last place and have to make your way through the pack. This is pretty standard fare for racing titles, but where it falters is in the fact that the cars you are racing against are a random assortment of the 20 that are available. This means that by the time you cruise past the slower cars, the higher-end machines have already sped so far ahead that catching them is almost impossible.
While some aspects of the gameplay do suffer a bit, the physics is one area of the gameplay that really does excel. More specifically, the way that weight is distributed on your car as your drive. Each car handles differently, and the way that weight shifts along the car as you turn really adds to this. While the physics engine is great for steering, it does nothing for the way that the game handles crashes. It happens far too frequently that you will crash into a wall at top speed, only to bounce off and go among your merry way, with no change in gameplay or control.
The GT series has never been want for eccentricities, but GT6 takes it to the next level… Literally. Now, you are able to jump into a (wait for it) Lunar Rover and race to your heart’s content on the surface of the moon. That’s right, you can speed down the Sea of Tranquility and drift among the craters and chasms that make up our orbiting satellite.
Visuals & Audio
The way a game looks and sounds plays a big part into how much you can suspend your disbelief and get sucked into the experience. This is especially true of racing games, where cars should all look and sound a particular way as they go round a bend or as they shift into gear. Sadly, this is an area where GT6 really does fall flat.
GT6 for the most part isn’t a “bad” looking game, but it isn’t a great one either. It sits safely in the middle of the scale. Vehicle models for the most part are well drawn and highly detailed, but they are often lost amongst the muddle of bland racetracks. The way that cars crash also leaves a lot to be desired. In much the same way that they don’t do much to the way you drive, your car wont find any visual differences in your car, even after a head-on collision.
It isn’t all bad, as at just he right angle the light can shine through a tree, or come over the horizon and makes the game look absolutely amazing. Detail really pops and the cars speeding around you all look like they have come out of a factory lot. The sad part is that these sections of brilliance are the needles in the haystack. Most of the time the game looks average at best, with some sections even looking decidedly last-gen.
While the visuals can have their moments of beauty, the audio is a little worse for wear. Any car enthusiast will tell you that the way an engine roars as you shift gear is as iconic as the look of the car itself. That is why it is such a shame that the cars sound like rusty blenders when driving.
Gran Turismo 6 feels like an extension of Gran Turismo 5. The game hasn’t come very far since the last instalment and it really shows. Launching as a PS3-exclusive game at the same time that the Xbox One and PS4 launched already put it at a disadvantage, and the fact that it doesn’t bring too much more to the table than its predecessor puts it even further behind in the pack. All-in-all, Gran Turismo 6 is a racing game for racing enthusiasts and doesn’t offer much else for the casual racing fan… Unless you want to drive on the moon.
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