Gran Turismo 6 launched for PlayStation 3 at quite a strange time, a week after the PlayStation 4. With so many people looking to play on the new hardware, does Gran Turismo 6 do enough to justify booting up the older machine?
At its very best, Gran Turismo 6 is absolutely sublime. In many regards, it has taken what was flawed and incomplete in Gran Turismo 5, and polished it to a mirror-like finish.
The new cars and tracks reignite that sense of discovery and excitement, as you get to experience the gruelling twists and turns at the top of Mt. Panorama, cling on for dear life as the first corner at Brands Hatch simply falls away from you, or revisit a classic original track, with the incessant left-right-left turns of Apricot Raceway. All of the new tracks come in addition to all those returning from GT5 and its DLC packs, resulting in an impressive variety of locations.
Then there’s the array of cars to choose from, which is almost mind-boggling. It’s true that the Standard vehicles are still in the game, but it’s good to see that many of the worst offenders have been improved, if not turned into full Premium models. While there are plenty that are still noticeably poorer than the Premium vehicles, the game no longer makes the distinction between them and the gap is often not as noticeable in the thick of the action.
Regardless of the car you’re driving, the handling model has definitely been improved substantially. The changes to the suspension are the most visually arresting part of this, with the weight and load shifting around the car in a more pronounced fashion under braking and through corners. It can be subtle, depending on the car, but it helps to better inform the player of what the car’s weight is doing.
The new tyre model also adds to this, so that controlling your car on the very edge is more manageable. The tyre squeal returns, as a much improved and more nuanced audio cue, helping you to compensate for the lack of actually sitting in a car and being able to feel the way it’s shifting around you.
Cars are more likely to lose grip when pushed hard, but when they do it is much more progressive than in GT5. Controlling the car when at or over the limit is easier, and especially when driving with a wheel as opposed to a DualShock 3, I felt more surety in what I could ask of the cars.
A much larger proportion of the tracks available now make full use of the day-night cycle, which made the racing around Nurburgring and La Sarthe such wondrous experiences in GT5. With the new lighting engine in place, and combining this with the dynamic weather system and the ability to race at varying points in the day, GT6 can create some of the most beautiful moments available on the PS3.
This added variety is something which the career delights in making use of. You might be returning to a track, but it rarely feels the same. You’ll be in a different car or racing on a different layout, while the time of day has changed and the shadows are scattered differently. Much later on in the career, you’ll find yourself racing at night, with the stars now twinkling more noticeably in the sky, or struggling with the wet conditions as the rain pours down.
Returning as a more integral part of the career are the License tests, now acting as the gateway to successive tiers of racing. They push you to learn certain types of corner and how to handle the various types of car, from the very basics onwards. They are also more lenient than they were in GT5, where the tests that feature you overtaking an opponent have been split off as Mission Races, that live alongside the quirky Coffee Break levels and One Make races.
They’re optional little distractions from the main career, stepping up the difficulty slightly ahead of the curve, and providing a different challenge. Special Events branch this out further, with the excellent Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb and the hilariously tangential Lunar Exploration, though this is a surprising paucity compared to the breadth of different disciplines featured in GT5.
Money, money, money.
There’s a distinct and noticeable drop in the number of cars awarded for victories, between GT5 and GT6. Over the course of the career, you’ll unlock somewhere in the region of 30 cars, compared to several times that before.
Though they are much more relevant to upcoming races, it does make your purchases seem so much more important, and your money more precious. It’s easy to cynically assume that this is to gouge real money from players, via the so-called micro-transactions.
However, when major cars like the LMP1 cars have been reduced from 4 million credits to less than half that, plenty others have also had their prices re-balanced, and trophies for collecting cars have been drastically reduced, I would say that this is far too simplistic an argument.
There will additionally be plenty of free cars via the Vision GT initiative, with the exceedingly useful Mercedes-Benz just handed over for nothing, and plenty of opportunities to earn cash without it feeling like a grind.
However, behind these improvements lurk some of the existing problems of GT5. The Standard cars can still disappoint, visible car damage is reduced, if anything, while improvements to engine noises are only going to be addressed in a substantial way through patching. For me, though, the most disappointing aspects come from the career’s AI and difficulty.
The AI sees few changes since GT5, just cruising around the tracks at well below a car’s pace and playing at overtaking like lorry drivers on a motorway. Their braking points are still far too early and hard, with low cornering speed that makes them too easy to beat. Though I can understand this is done to help newer drivers, the increase in difficulty is very gradual, and is never challenging enough to experienced drivers – though thankfully avoids some of the horrendous difficulty spikes of GT5.
I found myself taking hugely underpowered cars to races, in order to give myself even a modicum of challenge, but I get no reward for this. I got no satisfaction from passing these moving road blocks, and there’s no recognition or boost to my race earnings for doing so. Even much later on, the AI wasn’t made more challenging, but simply put into faster cars and placed further away from me, with rolling starts used to disguise this excessively stage managed system.
It makes up for this by taking you to each and every style of driving the game can possibly manage. Tracks like Ascari and Willow Springs appear, and are truly challenging places to visit, while NASCAR and rallying see you shift to completely different disciplines. Racing around Spa-Francorchamps in an LMP1 car, trying to figure out whether or not to react to the latest rain shower. The scope of what this game is able to deliver is still truly astonishing, and it’s only going to expand over time.
It’s also easy to dismiss the AI when you take into account the online racing. There really is nothing to compare with racing against real human beings, and GT5 turned into one of the strongest and most-played online games on the PS3. With this latest release, Polyphony have done much to improve this experience.
As part of the general menu overhaul, many of the online quirks have been extinguished, with lobbies much easier to set up and host as a consequence. Nestled inside this cleaner interface, you can also now set up qualifying sessions, enforce mandatory pit stops and tyre compound changes and so on.
There is still a lot more to be added to this, but even on day one, it’s an improvement on what GT5 has to offer. Community Clubs won’t appear until next year though, and the ability to create championships within the game is also missing at this time. Then there are the other elements that aren’t in the game at launch, with B-Spec – whether you love it or hate it – coming next year, more Special Events, more cars, more of the Vision GT initiative, and always the ability for Polyphony to take on board ideas and suggestions from their fans.
- Fantastic selection of new tracks and new cars.
- Shockingly pretty day-night cycle and lighting system.
- Several major overhauls to make car physics feel and look better.
- Solid additions to online play and functionality.
- This is just the beginning, with more features and content to come.
- The AI drivers are still boring to drive past and races often feel too similar.
- Career mode aims low, but has no option for added difficulty.
- Standard cars simply cannot match the Premium cars.
- At launch, this is not the finished article.
Gran Turismo 6, at its simplest, takes the foundations of GT5 and improves upon them. Some areas have seen bigger shifts than others, with the AI and career difficulty the main sticking points for me. However, when there is so much content on offer, with a host of new cars and tracks, see major changes to the physics and graphics, and only promises more, it easily outweighs the existing flaws.
It makes me think of what Luca di Montezemolo said, as he rated Fernando Alonso’s season in Formula 1. “My eight is worth a ten because it’s a score I give as an incentive.”
He was speaking of brilliance when handed imperfection, and GT6 deals with aging hardware and limited time, when trying to deliver on near limitless ambition. So I give it an eight, as an incentive to push on from here and deliver on the promised potential.
I think a similar difficulty system to what Forza has would be a nice addition for GT7. Also, proper dirt and marble build up on the exterior of cars. Although, I’ve not done enough rallies in my Scooby to actually see if there’s any build up yet! :P
Solid game but not perfect. GT7 can only get better. Work your magic Kaz!
Unless things have changed in Forza 5, Forza is no different in difficulty. The career mode still has its problems, and the hardest difficulty on single race modes is quite easy.
It’s a shame to hear that GT6 career mode isn’t really any better than 5 in difficulty. One question though (to anyone that can answer): are there car/tyre restrictions on races? Or can I just bring some overpowered beast with racing tyres in to a FF drive championship like I could with GT5.
Yes, there are tyre and PP rating restrictions in place for events, but for the most part you have to go in underpowered….dependant on skill level obv.
Brilliant to know there are PP restrictions then. I loved them in GT5 prologue in the S rank races. Thanks for answering.
Owww, I would really like to get this. The review is so promising. Even before reading I could guess the problems: stupid AI, standard cars, engine sounds, trees – I don’t know if my way of thinking is good, but I kind of got used to GT being like this and the mentioned issues are not really something keeping me away from GT. It’s sad, I know, but it’s G R A N T U R I S M O. You just love it, even it’s not perfect.
Get online with friends where AI doesn’t exist and it’s brilliant. :)
Great review, and I agree with your take on the AI difficulty, I think that they were catering to the masses of occasional sim racers so that they don’t eject the disc after one showing because of difficulty level rather than pandering to the hardcore. Not much of a problem though as you can dumb down a cars power and performance according to your skill level and turn a spectacle into more of a race….as we have done.
Some great strategic racing for the later S-series, where tyre wear and fuel depletion play heavily….even a top rated driver/car combo needs to have a plan for success.
Just about everything is a step up from GT5 and as mentioned does feel like a sequel rather than an update.
For a day one game that was announced as not fully complete with updates in the offing for the future, they’ve done a brilliant job with GT6…I’d choose it over my GT5 with over 1000 cars in the garage and 20 million cash in the bank any day!
Oh and I love the new credit system where financial planning plays a part, you don’t just chuck money at it!
There is easily enough credit to be earned in-game for progression without any need to even consider *micros* :P
Very well thought out, structured and written review.
I still have GT5 in the wrapper. Probably never getting out of it now.
If it was on ps4 I’d get it. Seems like a stupid decision to develop it for ps3. They’ve lost a massive amount of potential customers who upgraded their console.
I’ll wait until gt7 on ps4.
Installed PS3 user base easily exceeds that of PS4… Polyphony looked at the numbers and the deed was done. But, yes, a ‘GOTY Edition’ of GT6 for PS4, or even GT7 will follow – haven’t they already hinted as such? But not until DriveClub has bedded in…
I’ve owned every GT so far except the PSP one, but I refuse to buy anymore until they fix the stupidly slow AI and overhauling the career mode big time.
They forgot to add a career mode to the PSP version. It was….interesting.
I totally agree with all of this. The tracks and cars are astounding but you do have to kind of make your own challenge. So far (just completed the national B events) I’ve only bought one car, the P10 Nissan Primera, and only because I have one in real life. I was able to use that in events like the FF challenge and the 90’s Japanese events and the latter featured the likes of the R32 Skyline GTR, not a car I should be able to challenge in a standard Primera! It still pulled away on the straight but I took him easily on the corners which is just down to crappy AI drivers.
Sound good, but I think I`ll do with Driveclub when that’s out.
Really enjoying this, a vast improvement over 5. Nice review too :)
I absolutely agree on the difficulty, the Power Point limit is about 70 points too high. And you don’t get the feeling that the AI is actually racing.
It’s still an addictive and great game though. The new menus and load times are miles ahead of 5.
Agree. I unlocked the trophy for winning a race with 50pp less that the limit on almost the first race after the tutorial section.
Hopefully the AI get better later but failing that I’ll carry on using underpowered cars or play online