Gran Turismo 6 ReviewDecember 9, 2013
Even as someone who has never been a car fanatic, I’ve always liked the Gran Turismo series. Featuring just about every car you’d ever want to drive and every track you’d want to race them on – not to mention the ability to fine-tune and customize every vehicle in its vast virtual garage – I’ve always admired the effort put into these games. Gran Turismo 6 continues the series’ tradition of offering the most true-to-life, detailed and enjoyable racing simulator on the market, but there’s still room for improvement in its inevitable next-gen release.
Without a doubt, Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 6 is the best-looking racing game on the PlayStation 3, and it’s a marked improvement over GT5 in many areas. The car handling is top-notch, and the sheer variety of courses and cars on offer is mind-boggling. The game now runs in native 1080p at 60 frames per second, and the tracks have been overhauled since the series’ last outing with improved lighting, day/ night transitions and wet weather effects.
However, legacy issues remain, such as half-hearted damage modeling, grindy progression, sound issues, and the fact that up-rezzed models from GT4 are still being used for many of the vehicles. That last one really needs to be sorted out before the next-gen iteration, as the blurred textures, blocky models and lack of modeled interiors of these “standard” cars (as opposed to the built-from scratch “premium” models) is a noticeable blight on the otherwise stellar presentation.
One of the new modifications made to the game design is the PP system, which puts a limit on how powerful your vehicle can be in a given race. This prevents balance issues seen in GT5 where you could literally be lapping cars by the final lap; the PP limit can also be used online to level the playing field. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about over-upgrading your car and being barred from certain races, as you can always adjust the PP with the Power Limiter in the handy “Car Settings” menu, which can be accessed anywhere.
In fact, the entire menu system has been upgraded since GT5, featuring a clean presentation which is easy to sort through. I feel I should quickly mention the soundtrack, which is vastly improved from past games. With a much more energetic, “video game” feel, it covers everything from hard rock to electronic music with licensed and original tracks.
I appreciated the addition of the lighthearted “Coffee Break” games, and special events pop up often enough to break up the gameplay to a fair degree. You even get to race karts and concept cars and drive on the moon in Gran Turismo 6. Sure, driving on the moon sounds way more fun on paper than it feels in-game, but it’s really cool that it’s in there. Similarly, the new star system keeps things fresh, allowing players to pick and choose which races they’d like to play. After accruing a certain number of stars a new license trial will unlock, which in turn unlocks a new series of events.
The sound design in Gran Turismo 6 could definitely use some work – a lot of the engine noises just don’t pack a lot of punch, and the noise used for collisions still sounds like someone kicking a Rubbermaid trash can. And yes, you can still hit a wall at 200 mph without mechanically damaging your vehicle – and with only a scratched-exterior texture to show for it. Similarly disappointing is the aforementioned roster consisting mainly of legacy models from 2005’s GT4, which are easy to spot among the lineup of spruced-up HD cars. Certain manufacturers in the game only have models from more than a decade ago available, and cars from the 90s still dominate the roster. Still, the game packs over 1200 cars, which is undoubtedly impressive, and 120 new premium cars have been added since GT5.
Gran Turismo 6, like all of its predecessors, is painfully slow right out of the gate. You’ll be forced to drive around in a lackadaisical Honda Fit for over an hour before earning enough credits to purchase something, anything else. Once you earn licenses and move into bigger races, more credits will be handed out on a regular basis. But it doesn’t give the greatest first impression – especially to series newcomers – when other racing titles put you behind the wheel of high-end sports cars almost immediately.
Equally dreadful are the loading times – while the tracks load faster over time, caching to your PS3’s hard drive, they’re never quick. Initial load times for certain new tracks were over a minute and a half long, and they never dropped below the 30 second mark. The wait doesn’t get any easier online, as server troubles caused me to be constantly booted from rooms. All together it was a half hour before I was able to successfully join my first multiplayer match, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to checking it out again anytime soon.
The graphical beauty of Gran Turismo 6 is truly something to behold, and thankfully the game has a photo mode that can be utilized during replays. Best of all is the Photo Travel mode, where you can select a handful of scenic locales to take pictures of your car and driver in. I had more fun than I thought I would with this mode, as you can tweak the photograph format, mess with filters, position objects, and even walk through the environment. It’s a great way to take in the visual details that you might not have noticed in a heated race.
Overall, Gran Turismo 6 is a great entry in the series, with a few slight missteps that need to be corrected before a next-gen release. While everyone’s attention is on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at the moment, those who haven’t yet taken the hardware leap have a very solid racer to keep them busy.