Gran Turismo 6′s current gen platform might have been a surprise when it was revealed a few months back, but after a couple of hours in the driver’s seat (literally, Sony had provided several dedicated cockpits with the best wheel and pedal setups you can buy) it all makes perfect sense.
Sure, it’s visually some way off the likes of Forza 5 (which is stunning to look at) but where it counts – the handling – nothing else comes close to replicating the feeling of driving so accurately. Not that GT6 looks poor, it doesn’t – it actually looks smoother and better lit than the last game in the series – but it’s clear that this is about as far as the PS3 can go.
The demo offered up a glimpse at the new game’s menu structure – still busy, but much clearer than GT5′s confusing mess – and a smattering of events. Most of which were locked down to GT Academy style track segments and a couple of entry level races in Nissan Leaf cars, but thankfully there was also a set of time trial courses and a good chunk of cars to try out.
Among the trio of Silverstone circuits were a couple of brand new tracks: a twisting mountain range called Matterhorn and an open, dusty desert environment housing the Willow Springs raceway. There were also some old favourites to drive around – Grand Valley East, Autumn Ring, Suzuka. I found the Silverstone track accurate but slightly soulless, the most impressive and challenging was Matterhorn, which seemed to click no matter what the type of car, offering up sweeping undulating curves and a few nice straights.
The cars were the usual mix of Nissan favourites (including the cool DeltaWing concept) but it was the addition of the X-Bow that provided the most thrills – incredible acceleration (the car is so light) and tight cornering meant you could throw the thing into almost any bend and it’d still come out straight. For some reason the dashboard cam halved the framerate in that car, but it was still fun to drive.
The physics definitely feel tighter. Whether it was the refinements to the suspension or the wheels I’m not entirely sure (and a limited time with the game, dotting between cars and tracks isn’t the best way to test it out) but you could definitely feel the back wheels losing grip more through the subtle (and something rather forceful) feedback on the wheel.
It’s never going to be possible to fully model the experience of driving without actual contact with the road, but Gran Turismo 6 certainly attempts to do so with some degree of success. Going from GT6 to DriveClub was a sobering experience – Polyphony know how to do simulation – but going back the other way was startling. You can just drive the way you normally drive, and in GT6 it just works.
So whilst Gran Turismo 5 might have disappointed some with its clunky menus and a good few patches needed to get the game running smoothly, at least GT6 can hit the ground running. If Sony have fixed the career structure and boosted the fidelity of the important cars (we’re still expecting plenty of ‘standard’ models even though there were obviously none on display at E3) then this version will definitely be the superior racer on the platform.
It’s got competition of a different sort now though – with at least two dedicated next-gen titles releasing at around the same time and a selection of third party cross-gen games like Need for Speed, but for enthusiasts there’s really only one choice, and that’s Polyphony’s all-encompassing behemoth. I had great fun with the game, going back to it repeatedly in Sony’s media room, and look forward to seeing more.