|ONLINE||Yes, 2 Player Split-screen, 2-16 Player Online|
|INSTALL||Automatic ( 7+ GB )|
|RELEASE DATE||December 5-6, 2013|
|PUBLISHER||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Let’s get right down to it, shall we? There is no story at all, so we’ll jump right into the gameplay.
Gran Turismo 6 is miles (Pun not intended) ahead of Gran Turismo 5 in just about every facet. This is definitely the most ambitious GT to date – and yet, at the same time, it’s also the purest.
Let me start with the new physics. There’s a little racing game that not many people know about on the PS2. It went pretty much under the radar, and got overshadowed by the behemoth that is Gran Turismo.
This game had some of the best physics of any console racing sim. Watching a replay was almost like watching a video of a real car. The cars reacted to your inputs properly, torque steer, body roll, camber, everything just felt right.
That game was called Enthusia: Professional Racing, a new racing IP from the minds at Konami. Unfortunately, the game came out right on the heels of Gran Turismo 4. This essentially was a death sentence – like releasing a new shooter on the heels of a Battlefield or Call of Duty. Despite being an amazingly accurate sim – GT was just too much of a juggernaut to be knocked from its pedestal.
Enthusia went on to do fairly well in reviews – averaging scores in the low 7s – but it inevitably fell into obscurity, selling less than a million copies worldwide. Compare that to GT4, which sold over 11 million.
Enter Gran Turismo 6.
GT6 feels like a rebirth for Enthusia. The new physics model feels a lot like Enthusia‘s, and that’s a very good thing. Even with a Dualshock, you can feel the car’s weight pulling against your steering. It’s seriously impressive. The cars actually all have character now, whereas, in hindsight, the cars of the previous game feel rather lifeless.
The physics aren’t the only improvement, either. The new home screen is much more well designed – it’s extremely organized and easy to navigate. They’ve made it super easy to buy and sell cars, as well as switching cars for events. Hit start at anytime – as long as you haven’t actually started the event – and a menu drops down, giving you access to various options, such as Car Selection, Car Settings, and game options.
It feels like PD hired someone with actual UI design skills this time around. From the drop down start menu, you can choose “Car Selection” and choose any car in your garage, and instantly switch to it.
No loading. No real waiting at all.
That’s the second big improvement over GT5. the speed at which everything is done in the game. Everything is responsive, choose a menu option and it loads in a snap. Buying cars now is much, much faster – and the game drops you right back into the dealership you were just in. No need to go through multiple menus again.
With regards to the career – the game starts you out in a quick tutorial. You are asked to take a quick lap around one of the Silverstone tracks in an Alfa Romeo MiTo. This is a nice touch, as it’ll help new players and veterans alike get used to the new physics model. As you race around the track, you’re given various tips on braking, acceleration, steering, etc.
It won’t turn you into the next Michael Schumacher, but it’ll help you out a bit. It ends with you buying your first car – a Honda Fit…for whatever reason.
I like the new career, and I feel it’s a step in the right direction, but it still feels like Polyphony are stuck in tradition. It’s structured much better, and you do feel like you’re at least progressing as you gain new, more powerful vehicles and complete the (mandatory again) license tests. I just feel like it could still be done better.
Games like TOCA Racedriver, GRID and Forza have well crafted careers that make you feel like you’re a real driver, rising through the ranks to compete in huge events – GT still feels like you’re just going from event to event.
Polyphony, please listen – it’s time for a change folks. I think most would agree that it’d be nice to see a career that truly incorporates all of the racing disciplines featured in the game. I’d love to see a GT where we start as a GT Academy graduate and work our way up to GT3, NASCAR, WRC, and Le Mans racing.
I’m not asking for an Oscar worthy story – just some real meat to go with the already well made potatoes.
Speaking of the disciplines – as usual, a lot of them are covered here. However, it’s not quite as deep as previous releases. The excellent rally events of GT5 are gone, in favor of the classic dirt circuit races with multiple cars.
This makes me sad as there are a lot, a lot, of new and classic rally cars in the game – and they’re limited to a single, 3 race long event.
NASCAR is a bit better represented in the career – the event now requires the use of restrictor plates on the oval tracks. That’s where it ends, though. Still, there are none of the actual NASCAR rules being enforced. No caution laps, no need to pit and the races are all extremely short.
And what may be the biggest let down of the career – the classic endurance races are all but gone. Replaced with much easier events this go around. A 20-Mile challenge on Willow Springs, or a 24 minute race on the Nurburgring with accelerated time change. They’re long, but nowhere near the same level as the original races.
No more 9 hour Suzuka. No more 24 Hour Le Mans/Nurburgring. It makes me sad as I loved these races, though I do appreciate the iconic races being condensed into a more feasible package for most people – it’s just not quite the same.
I didn’t see a single F1 race, either. Not even for the Formula GT.
These gripes aside – I still enjoyed the career. I especially like that every event has restrictions on it – you can still use almost any car you want, as long as it falls within the requirements. Don’t think you can tune a car to the max and get an easy win anymore.
That said, if you have a car close to the max allowed restrictions, you won’t have much trouble winning as the AI still isn’t that great. PD decided to go the route of rolling starts for just about every event again, and the AI pretty much just follows their driving lines with little deviation. It makes some of the events that should feel more white-knuckle, fairly bland as races play out more like a chase-the-rabbit event.
I really miss standing starts and I don’t really understand why PD doesn’t at least give us the option of choosing them.
Where’s the pack racing? Where’s the double-file drafting in the NASCAR races? These are the other places that GT needs to change.
Still, what’s here is well done, and there’s a good variety in the events and the classes of cars to race – from hatchbacks, all the way up to FIA GT race cars.
Aside from the career, there are quite a few modes available to you. Single Player and Multiplayer are essentially the same thing – go in, choose a race type [Circuit, Drift], a track class [World, City, Original], pick your course, choose your car [Either from your selected Favorites from your garage, or from a small selection of “Courtesy Cars”], and race either against the AI at various difficulty levels, a Time Trial, or a human, local friend.
“Lobby” is where you’ll find the online multiplayer. This is much improved from GT5 – you can adjust a ton of settings, course, time, weather, vehicle restrictions, etc. You can set up qualifiers for any race – an AMAZING addition if I say so myself. You can then save your settings to use again on another lobby. I played a race or two online when i got the game for Christmas and never dealt with any real lag. It was smooth sailing. that said – i have a decent connection at 50Mbps, so slower connections could likely have some issues.
Seasonal Events are like they were in GT5, though they are a bit lacking at the moment – only featuring a handful of time trials.
The career consists of various levels of competition – Novice, National B, National A, International B, International A, Super. Each of them culminating in a license test to advance to the next class. You have to complete these tests in order to not only advance in the career – but also to unlock features such as playing online and the Photo Travel mode.
This may turn some people off, but I for one love it. The tests are nowhere near as difficult as previous entries – each only having five tests total, and only needing to be bronzed in order to be complete. However, earning all Golds will net you a prize car.
Unfortunately, this time, cars aren’t awarded that often. Usually only when you earn all stars in a given class, or get all gold in special missions.
New to GT, the Goodwood Festival of Speed missions are a welcome addition. It’s a set of various time trial events that take place on the Goodwood hillclimb track. These events can prove challenging as the track is rather narrow, and the penalties are fairly strict – but they are very fun, especially the final event.
Another new event – and a first for GT…and probably any racer ever – an event that allows you to drive a Lunar Rover on. the. moon. This was a LOT of fun for me, and was quite challenging as the low gravity couple with the true 4 Wheel Drive of the Rover was quite a bit to deal with.
Photo Travel also returns this time, with a few new locations – but it’s pretty much the same as it was in the last game. The only real change is that you can now have 2 cars in some shots.
Another change from GT5 is that Standard cars no longer “exist”. Take note of the quotations. See, they still exist as cars in the game. They still have worse visuals, and they still lack full interior views on most of them. However, there is no actual distinction between them. No longer are they listed as “standard” – they simply exist within the dealerships like normal cars.
A seemingly minor change that I like, and adds a bit of competition, is that now, your friends ghosts show up in License tests as well as the seasonal time trials. This is actually a great feature! Their “ghost” is represented as a line on the track with their PSN ID hovering above it. It allows you to see your friend’s line and either follow it, or try to beat it.
On top of having leaderboards for these specific events, it adds a real sense of competition.
If only it went throughout the entirety of the game. I’d really love to see friend leaderboards for Single player time trials. Some of my most fond memories of the series are playing with friends and all of us setting times on the tracks, having our names up on the lap board in game, trying to beat each other’s times.
I want that back so that I can compete against my far away friends outside of just actual racing. I’d love to see something like RaceNet or AutoLog implemented into Gran Turismo.
There are a few other things that are missing at the moment as well. Some of them a little strange.
Where’s the Speed Test? All of the DLC from GT5 made it into the game – including Special Stage Route X – so what gives? This is a very strange, very big omission for me as I love tweaking my car and then taking it out to see how fast it is, and having an actual record of that in the game.
The course creator is also missing – though that will be coming in an update soon. No idea when, though.
Tuning wise, the game does not disappoint. Not in the least. There are plenty of options to keep you busy, including a couple of new ones!
My favorite addition to the tuning aspect, is the ability to detune your car. Things that were once permanent fixtures after installing them – like weight reduction and engine tuning – can be undone at no cost to you. Simply head into the car settings menu, and choose the tuning option you want from a dropdown, like you would your tires. You can also purchase every upgrade for your car directly from the settings menu – though you’ll still need to go to GT Auto to install aero kits and maintain your car.
Speaking of GT Auto – the body options available now are much improved. Not only are there a ton of rim and spoiler options, but quite a few cars can take special customizations as well. For example – the Chevy El Camino can have a couple of different cover options on its flatbed, and the MiTo can have different colored trim options installed.
Some cars can even have flat floors installed – which can help to improve the car’s handling.
Gone, however, is the ability to Race Modify cars. Instead, there are now “Base Model” versions of a lot of race cars which allow you to customize them a bit – mainly by painting them any color you have available.
As far as painting is concerned – it’s much simpler now. When you buy a car, you choose a for that car. Once your purchase is complete, that paint color is added to your collection and you can then use it to paint any other car you have, as many times as you wish.
No more paint chips to worry about!
This is where the game hasn’t really improved. Not as much as previous entries anyway.
The game still looks pretty much the same as Gran Turismo 5 – not that it’s a bad thing. GT5 is a fine looking game.
Damage is both improved, and yet not quite as good as it was in 5. Visually, it looks pretty good – you won’t be destroying your car completely, but cars get much more scratched up and dented now. It at least looks like you collided with something. Dirt and Snow also accumulate much more prominently.
Unlike 5, though, it doesn’t seem like any pieces of the car fall off, so no matter how much you ram into walls or opponents – you’re just left with a scuffed up car with some crumpled metal by the end of a race.
That being said, there are improvements. Cars look a bit smoother, the framerate is much better and I haven’t noticed a single drop – though the replay still seems to have a lower framerate than everything else.
The new lighting system is also phenomenal. Almost every track in the game has time change and weather now – and the time change really makes the tracks look different, depending on the time of day. Evening really looks like evening – and night, especially on tracks with no ambient lighting, is a treacherous, scary, pitch black affair. Nothing but you, the lights of the other cars, and the track.
I especially like the way your car lights – both head and brake – light up the track. Take a look behind you while braking in the dark and you’ll see the dim red glow of your brake lights reflecting onto the guardrails and road – even on the dust and tire smoke.
The weather effects are pretty nice too – though there is only rain on the road/dirt courses, and snow on the, well, snow courses. I’d love to eventually see snowy conditions on a regular road course. I’d also like to see water bead up on the car like Bizarre did in Project Gotham Racing 4. It didn’t add anything, but for a company that prides itself on its attention to detail, it seems odd that they don’t have that effect yet.
I also noticed some pop-in from time to time. Nothing horrible, but it’s there.
Crowds still look pretty bad – but when you’re whizzing by them a 150 miles per hour, you don’t really have time to notice. Tracks feel like they have a bit more “life” to them. I noticed grills going at certain places along the Nurburgring, which is a nice touch that I don’t quite remember in GT5.
As I mentioned before, the UI is vastly improved over GT5’s outing. It feels like there was actual thought put into it this time. It’s lovely, it’s fast and responsive, and it just works. Everything is nicely organized, and easy to find.
Load times are much improved as well. Initial loading on tracks takes a moment, but after that the time is much quicker. It’s also much easier to know when the track has actually loaded as it goes from a still image of the track, to “live” footage of the cars taking laps.
Aside from that – the animation work on the cars is much better. Not only does the new physics model feel great – it looks just as good too. Depending on your car, the body will roll in a very pronounced fashion, giving you an excellent, visual representation of just how much the car is pulling against you. This is what allows playing with a Dualshock to feel so good – visual feedback from the car.
Driving cars like the KTM X-BOW from the cockpit view will also allow you to see the new suspension model in action. The coils compress and extend realistically, and you can see every bump the car hits in it.
The new suspension even has an effect on sound. I’ve had many a moment where I was turning hard and actually heard the tire skipping on the road.
In regards to sound – I highly recommend either having a decent sound system, or a nice set of headphones to play with. A lot of people complain that the sounds aren’t great in the game – but every car I’ve driven so far has sounded amazing. Especially from the chase camera where you can hear the exhaust noise better.
In the interior camera, the cars may sound a little funny – this is because you can’t really hear the exhaust through rolled up windows and closed doors. You do hear engine noise, though – which I think is what throws a lot of people.
That’s not to say every car in the game sounds stellar – there are nearly 1,200 of them, some are bound to fall flat. There are also some cars that I’ve driven that maybe don’t sound exactly like you would expect – but it’s far from awful, and it is a lot better than 5 – like I mentioned in the GT Academy Hands-On, there appears to be a bit more low-end in all of the noise, which gives the cars a much deeper, richer sound.
Music wise..well, the soundtrack isn’t awful. I’ve heard a few songs that I actually like – especially a few of the Daiki Kasho songs.
That said, the mix of Dance/Electronic, Rock and Jazz probably won’t appeal to everyone. Thankfully, like GT5, you can use your own music – though I just use my headset connected to both my TV and PC, and stream music from Spotify through the PC channel of the headset and turn the music off in-game.
So how does the game actually fare in the long run? Pretty well, honestly. There is a lot of content here – a ton of events to enter, lots of cars to drive, and the promise of a full year’s worth of content updates to come. There are some things missing right now that will come later, and some that their whereabouts are unknown, but there’s plenty here to keep you playing for a while.
For you online racers, there’s a breadth of settings available to you for setting up the lobby that you want, and with communities like GTPlanet, it shouldn’t be too hard to find competition.
For the trophy hunters – this game is a cakewalk. Far, far easier than GT5 was. It’ll take some time as one of the trophies requires you to drive a whopping 12,718 kilometers [That’s 7,903 miles for us American Imperial users.] – which was easy to do in GT5, but now, since the endurance races are kaput, it’s going to be quite a grind. You’ll have a few thousand kilometers after finishing every event – but you’ll have to grind out the rest somehow.
Everything else is pretty straight forward though – even getting Gold on the License Tests isn’t that hard with some practice.
Overall, if you aren’t a fan of sim racers in the least – Gran Turismo 6 won’t change your tune. It’s nothing revolutionary and the game is still mired in traditions that really need some updating. The AI is still fairly lackluster, and the career, while much better in this entry, is still just a series of events instead of a true “career”.
That said, if you are a fan of sim racers, and Gran Turismo as a whole – you would be doing yourself a major disservice by skipping out on this entry. There are a few missteps – a few missing, minor features, visuals that aren’t that much improved over the last game and a few visual glitches here and there – but the new physics model, revamped interface, and much more user friendly online component make this one of the best entries in the series.
My final judgment? Buy it if you’re a fan of the series – it’s definitely worth it, though I would say to wait juuuust a little while to see what features get added in by the end of this month (January, 2014)!