Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

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It was always going to be impossible for Gran Turismo 5 to live up to the expectations of grandeur placed upon it: Perfectly modelled cars, true-to-life racing physics, visible damage and car degradation, online, an engaging career mode, day/night cycles, weather… these are just some of the features talked about before the game was out. Polyphony Digital, meanwhile, quietly ignored the raging storm of internet debate and comparisons and went about creating their own vision. And it is a thing of wonder.

Some stuff is odd, some parts are a little under-baked, some bits are frustrating. But the core components of the game – the driving, the courses and the cars – are breathtaking at times, each in their own way. After 25 hours of play, I feel I’m just scratching the surface of the content of this game – it’s truly immense! I fully intend to put a lot more hours in, and I’ll consider revisiting this review once I’ve done that because at this stage it’s very hard to really say much more than I’m loving it as much as I hoped to!

Gran Turismo 5 Screenshot 1

Polyphony Digital, and Kazunori Yamauchi in particular, are clearly in love with cars. This passion is manifest in every part of the game. When you buy a new Premium car in the world of Gran Turismo it just makes sense to photograph it in exotic locations, put some new sport or racing tyres on it, and then to take it on the track for a test run. Somehow you get attached to these cars – they each drive so differently. Some are easy to control and a little safe and boring, some are monsters that need careful nurturing around the track lest they unleash into a wall, some are finely tuned masterpieces that fly around corners and hug the road.

The Premium cars are the star of the show, and there are over 200 included in the game, ranging from the Toyota Vitz (aka Yaris) and the Honda Civic TYPE R to the McLaren F1 and Ferrari 458 Italia, all carefully chosen and modelled. Also included are 800 or so Standard cars. Most of these have not been created from the ground up for the game so they don’t look quite as impressive (with lower polygon counts and lower quality textures), and it’s hard to appreciate them as much as the Premium cars, although it’s great to have them in because of the massive amount of variety they bring.

Gran Turismo 5 Screenshot 3

If the cars are the stars then the tracks are the stage, and while they certainly don’t outshine the cars, they do provide the perfect backdrop for them. There are lots of tracks (they say over 70, but some are just variations), and all the real-world courses feel incredibly true to life. I’ve driven most of them before in other racing games, but the N