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Preview: Gran Turismo 5

A look at the fifth game in Sony’s long running driving series.

Gran Turismo 5 has some serious competition – F1 2010, DiRT 3, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Motorstorm Apocalypse and World Rally Championship are all due out within a year. Polyphony Digital may be feeling a bit under pressure at the moment: with a lengthy development period spanning over four years and a less than affable Prologue released back in 2008,  the November release date must be casting a very foreboding shadow over their heads.

The culmination of a lengthy amount work on a revolutionary racing title in a well-respected and loved series will see the eyes of every gamer, blogger and developer fixed squarely on Polyphony Digital, as they release possibly the most anticipated game of 2010. Can Gran Turismo 5 be the incredible game everyone has been told it will be?

On first inspection, I’m going to say yes.

Late last year a ‘Time Trial Demo’ was released, which was meant to show the progress made from the Prologue as well as offer players a competition to enter. I wasn’t as impressed with the supposed improvements as Polyphony had expected me to be. The driving felt oddly underwhelming still and the camera control was awkward and rugged. The physics were improved upon and the graphics admirable, but I never felt entertained playing it. It certainly didn’t compete with Forza 3 at the time…

This week I was given some time with the game (not the full retail but a near to completion demo build) which allowed me to take a whole range of cars around different tracks in the game’s time trial mode. The timer was limited to less than two minutes but it was enough time to complete a lap, which added a welcome competitive edge to the time I spent with the game. I’m not a hugely competitive gamer but if there’s a time to beat I feel compelled to at least try a few times – someone had set a rapid time around one of the tracks and, with the likes of Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Move games available to play around me, I spent a lot of time thorougly enjoying trying valiantly to best it.

It was testament to Gran Turismo 5 that its heightened realism and full simulation design still kept me on the edge of the very comfy Recaro racing seat provided; Forza rarely has that effect on me. Some of the enjoyment I experienced could perhaps be attributed to the Logitech GT wheel I used for some of the time with the game, but I still had a hell of a lot of fun with a Dualshock 3 in hand instead. There’s a very noticeable difference between the 2009 demo and now, a difference which has me now wanting to buy this game day one, as opposed to not being interested in playing it.

The visuals have been improved upon even more, to the point where playing in 3D is not really an improvement. I was happier playing the boring old Full HD version rather than in 3D – I already felt so immersed in first-person view that 3D didn’t really add anything extra to the experience. HDTV owners can feel comforted in knowing that GT5 isn’t a game that warrants spending £2000 because it’s incredibly satisfying without it.

Gran Turismo 5 has come a long, long way, and Polyphony Digital have convinced me that this Gran Turismo will be the best in the series. I’m still looking more forward to F1 2010, but Gran Turismo 5 is now for me a must-buy and it should be for you too.

About Harry

An overzealous film watcher, videogame journalist, university student & bagel eater. Susceptible to bargains and biscuits; fears roller-coasters and strangers.

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