Gran Turismo 5 review

  • Driving over crisp, clean snow
  • Wealth of data analysis to pore over
  • The licence tests are brilliantly hardcore
  • Non-scaling difficulty sticks two fingers up to skill
  • Some shocking graphical compromises
  • The Top Gear van race

Flaky visuals

Gran Turismo 5 is no looker. You're obviously going to call me crazy. I've seen the screenshots too. Photo mode is photo mode - it's meant to look amazing. On the track, and during the replays, it's a different story. A couple of races do look beautiful, as I say. But there are so many visual shortcomings, I can't believe we're talking about a GT game. Here's a brief, very geeky, list of eyesores that spoil the view:

  • Shadows are real-time, but incredibly jagged and flickery. They also draw-in in the middle-distance with no warning on user-created tracks.

Above: Even a technophobe would question that shadow's jaggedness. It's like MotorStorm. One

  • Trackside scenery is often PS-one basic. We laughed at the 32-bit style cross-polygon trees in the early screens, but we had no idea they'd be such a common feature.

Above: You can see the cross-polygon tree on the right here. A graphical technique dating back to 1995

  • Some scenery repeats so much, it's almost like placeholder foliage. And the greens are often unrealistically over-saturated.

Above: Even Saturday morning cartoon artists would feel bad for duplicating that many trackside hedges 

  • Tyre marks in the snow are fixed textures and are not affected by your wheels.
  • The premium cars look gorgeous, but the hundreds of 'standard' cars look like straight ports of old PS2 assets. It means you get more for your money, but detracts from the overal level of polish in the game.

Above: Is the game better for having cars that look like this? Quantity over quality wasn't GT's old mantra

  • There's some very slight slowdown in busy scenes - something GT has never had.
  • The crowds are low res and either look crappy or completely flat. Never mind GRID's amazing 3D crowd – even GT HD, the early (free) PS3 demo has better crowds. They've actually made it worse for the most part (but bizarrely kept the 'good' crowds for that track and a couple of others – couldn't they just use those for everything?).

Above: The GTHD Eiger track returns with its old crowd. So what's with the elbow-tastic people elsewhere? 

  • There's pop-in on long straights.
  • Invisible walls in Tuscany make you crash out of a race simply by driving into what appears to be an empty field.

With any other game, I could rightly be accused of nit-picking. But let's be clear about this. It wasn't the realistic handling that built Gran Turismo's reputation in the eyes of Average Joe. It's the graphics. It's always been immaculate - at least in terms of the hardware it's running on. PSone had its breakthrough bodywork reflections and TV-cam replays. PS2 had environment mapping, particle effects and gorgeous heat haze. The Gran Turismo name is synonymous with the best graphics, so it's sad to see it so far off its game. And while it does admittedly push another boundary by supporting 3D TVs, it doesn't massively enhance the gameplay experience.

To its credit:

There are now 12 impeccably detailed cars on-track at once, which is a fine achievement. The day to night transitions are especially beautiful, which give an indication of how awesome this game could have been. The post-processed photos from replays are also rather sexy and the smoke effects are magnificent.

Above: The smoke hangs in the air for a good while, but even that causes ugly outline glitches around objects

I don't know what's gone wrong, but even the GT HD demo's depth of field effects are missing in the final game. And for every great-looking track (Madrid looks lovely and Suzuka is as great as always), there are three that look a bit duff. The go-kart races look like an XBLA indie game at times and are far too easy. Less really would have been more.


Connecting to network...

Sony made a point of directing our attention towards the online mode. I'm not sure why, though - the races I've tried were laggy and mismatched. At present, the traffic on the network is currently so bad, my offline game often refuses to load unless I disconnect from the internet. I'm not alone - Polyphony's news feed is currently recommending disconnecting from PSN when you play the game, which is obviously a pretty major problem. 

Above: This will get better. But even without the connection issues, online GT5 is lacking major features

When you do get online, anybody can start the race, leaving the host with the wrong car or having to sit out in his own lobby, which is less than ideal. There are no leaderboards, no credits to win, no ranking system at all. With Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit's Autolog getting it all so right, GT's clearly getting most of it wrong.  


Gran Chocobo 5

B-spec mode is actually one of the most entertaining parts of the package. This is given just as much space on the Home screen as the drive-it-yourself A-spec mode, which implies it should be given a fair portion of your attention. It sees you raising an AI driver (who can't be named by you – we chose 'V Bosch from the list. The V stands for 'Very') and instructing him on what to do from the sidelines.

It's a lot like Chocobo Racing in Final Fantasy VII or Chao Racing in Sonic Adventure. When you're left to look at the pretty exterior car shots (running at a disappointing 30fps), cheering on your little blokey, it's exciting. A bit like putting a quid on a horse – that kind of exciting. The game can do its physics, the cars can look shiny… it's probably Yamauchi's favourite mode. Why spoil the simulation by driving it yourself?

Above: Obviously, Cloud Strife isn't in Gran Turismo 5. Neither are Chocobos

This is especially apparent when you look at the slowest special events. The first Top Gear Challenge looks just like an episode of Top Gear in the replays, especially with The Stig driving each van. Yet it probably would have been my 'I'm trading this in' moment if I'd bought the game as it's appallingly dull. Look at this video and try to explain why it's been put in the game. Oh, and I've left in the load times, which are with the data installed:

Of course, the level of detail in the driving itself is insane, whether at 20mph or 200mph. You can pore over your data from time trials to see whether your car's acceleration worked better with the sports air filter or the drivetrain upgrade. The little window running the replay itself looks great too, although exactly how much any of this will be of use to gamers is debatable.

Above: Check out that amazing throttle control using the right stick. Reminiscent of Ayrton Senna, eh?


Damaged goods

There is one final note of consternation – the damage modelling. I'm amazed I have to say this, but I still haven't unlocked it. Yes, you read that right. Damage modelling in Gran Turismo 5 is locked away, buried so deep in the game I've not seen it after playing it all week. It might be amazing. But internet videos suggest otherwise. Either way, it's limited to the 'Premium' cars, unlocked progressively (reportedly at levels 10, 20 and properly at level 40). I'm at level 19 and I've seen a scuff on a car door… does that count? It's a ludicrous situation. And even if it is to stop beginners spending all their early cash on repairs, why the hell isn't it an on/off option in arcade mode?

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Polyphony Digital
Franchise: Gran Turismo
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Lyrics
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • vrman - July 20, 2011 7:11 p.m.

    I Only ask because I'm occasionally confused by the english that the writers here use, but are all of the writers on this site british?
  • GR_JustinTowell - September 18, 2011 1:36 a.m.

    There are two teams, one in the UK and one in the US. We both post to the same site, though, so there's no separation. Sorry if British English is different, but if it's written IN England, I think it should be allowed ;)
  • sauros73 - January 19, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    I can't see only one answer why that bad results. They wasn't ready (i know after 5 years!) and they fall under the public pressure
  • desudesu893 - January 13, 2011 5:16 a.m.

    raaaaeeeeggggggeeeeee!! how could they possibly stuff up on the graphics, on a ps3?? thats just slack on the devs' half. they had the hardware to work it on, why couldnt they pull it off?
  • mostlyhybrid - January 6, 2011 7:04 a.m.

    loading times worse than forza? ouch.
  • Chaza__94 - January 5, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    The hype surrounding the game made it seem sooo immense, then i played the game :|, i was underwhelmed by the sheer lack of detail given to the "Standard" model cars, i didn't think it would be that low. The polygon trees and pixelated shadows i dont mind as i don't pay attention to them when i'm racing. The one thing i was dissapointed with, was the choice Polyphony Digital made with putting the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 in the "Standard" model catergory as it's the car i drive the most, i'd have liked to seem it as a "Premium" model, i guess not :/. P.s the loading times suck
  • KuwaSanjuro - December 23, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    Watching the comparison between GT3 and GT5 it makes it really look like GT5 is just a HD remake of GT3. I also think it lost itself in how long it was in development. They started out making a launch game and that's what it is a game made for back when the PS3 was to be launched and not taking advantage of the advancements that other games have made. Pity.
  • BlitzIzDaShitz - December 22, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    Defiantly have to try it out, especially after the new patch that supposedly fixed some stuff in it. Plus I loved playing 4 with my bro and we both sucked at it so much it was awsome.
  • elilupe - December 17, 2010 2:13 a.m.

    @Wolverine08 How can you "KNOW for a fact is the best racing simulation made in my opinion having played it"? If its your opinion you cant know it for a fact.
  • ultraextreme - December 12, 2010 12:24 a.m.

    Oh man how could you be so ignant! I havent played the game and its just fucking awesome, its the best thing forever my live revolves around how amazing it is. Next you will attack my GOD huh is that what you want? To ruin my faith! Fuck you you lazy cretin all you want to do is hurt! How can you say that something i want to be good is bad! You know nothing! You might aswell be foreign. I hate you! Love you GR, played this, agreed with the review, boom.
  • Zengaku - December 6, 2010 11:07 p.m.

    Meh, i am still going to get this either way, always have loved the GT series ever since i was little. I'd rather choose this than Need for Speed: Burnout edition.
  • shpongled - December 4, 2010 6:36 p.m.

    I feared as much, PD seem to be living in the past. Things have moved on A LOT in the last 5 years of racing games, and they've been left behind. The cars sound pathetic yet again, they can't seem to get that right. Even full on snarling racers are reduced to hedge-trimmers in GT games... That GT3 vs GT5 video is a real eye-opener, and the Japanese really need serious help with their presentation / menu structure in games it's just awful.
  • kazimierz3000 - December 2, 2010 9:12 p.m.

    @Howitzer I have to agree with you completely, this game is being judged not for what it is but for what people seem to want it to be. Instead of saying whether or not this game good and focusing on why it isn't the best racing game in the history of racing games. It's strange, although this game is getting reviews (even the poor reviews) that rate it 7 and higher, how does that score constitute a bad game? Hell I've been enjoying this game to the fullest as have many of my friends, with nary a complaint. It's not the best or most beautiful game and it has it's quarks, but it's fun, I guess at the end of the day what matters is whether or not you enjoy it, if not skip it, if so play on.
  • e1337prodigy - December 2, 2010 9:02 p.m.

    oh dear. I feel sorry for PS3 owners only and top gear for putting their track in this. It's such a shame, have to wait all this time and for it to be such a disappointment. I'm sure there are great moments in it, that fireworks track looks brilliant. I thought GT5 has rain effects as well? if so, that's something that Forza hasn't got and needs for its next release along with night races. But, otherwise this is a massive disappointment. Fancy sticking in a damage model but then not allowing people to use it until they get to level 40!! wth!! that van race... you went through all that and you get disqualified? you got to laugh really.
  • Howetzer - December 2, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    Oh silly me I forgot the part about Nascar (which again sis not get a mention in the review), oh yeah and the karting which I actually found very frusttrating because I was not used to how they handled, I had to learn from my mistakes with them, and again I feel that is a great thing about this game. The cars all handle differently, its not like any other game where the cars are all pretty much the same except the look and the speed. Anyway I guess we could say I am a GT5 freak like you are a GT3 freak Justin...ok I think i'm really done this time lol.
  • Howetzer - December 2, 2010 4:01 p.m.

    Not to mention the fact that you left out some things this game has PACKED into it: 3D - are you kdding me?? I wish to GOD I had a 3D TV for this game, it would be so awesome..don't you think you could have included ANYTHING about that in the review for the game? Seems to me you should have at least said that it either looks great or not...but we got nothing about it. All the speacial challenges which were challenging and fun at the same time as teaching you how to be a better racer and enjoy more cars. Photomode is so good it should have been in there twice lol. Sharing cars/ photos of your cars with all your friends, this is a cool feature I thought. Yes you can give/receive cars directly from each others Garages! It's neat. When you get a car it starts it up and sounds JUST like the car in real life...maybe not every -single- one, but hey I know alot of the ones I've gotten do, and I think that's cool, it shows what was put into this game..alot of people are on here saying where did the money, etc go? Well when you can climb into the EXACT replica of 200 cars' driver seats and listen to that cars engine guess what? Thats not cheap or quick to do...or easy to pack into ONE damn disc. Bah enough, Im sure no one will read this, but if you do Justin let me know what you think...I just feel you were looking for GT3 (part2) or something and failed to see all of this games' brilliance in the process. Sorry for double post but I ran out of room one first one lol
  • Howetzer - December 2, 2010 3:54 p.m.

    Ok I have already commented on this game, but if you do read these coments reveiwer, and others who just want to know whether or not to buy this game, here are some more points of view from me on this game and this review: First I'll say that the reason I came back here and read all these coments again is because I wanted to see more people coming to the defense of this game because I love playing it and thought other would start to say they have as well. Which it looks to me, they have. First lets go through the reveiw. The Tuscan night race with the fireworks and your headlights causing the road signs to reflect back at you,the fireworks going off in the distance that makes you want to take your eyes off the road and just watch etc is absolutely awesome, there is nothing like this course at night that I have EVER seen in ANY racing game, giving 2 sentences to this kind of visual orgasim in your review is simply not enough Justin. And one of the sentences was "Awesome." The critisism on the AI drivers...they piss me off too, but you know what? It's a race and guess what else? They don't want you to pass them. Sorry but I find it hard to fault that, it adds challenge and fun to the races. Speaking on the non-scaling aspect with regaurds to the cars/competitors you face on races, there is a nice little button that shows you the common competitors' cars and BHP you will face for EACH and EVERY race Justin, use that to gauge who you will be facing and if you feel that youre too powerful or not powerful enough...dont enter the race until you are, or find one more suited to your car. So again it's hard for me to fault the designers and the game because I am entering races that I should not be when they provide you with that info. The licence tests are a great way to get a feel of different cars and help you to become a better driver, I feel they are well done, which you seemingly mostly agreed with. The load times, I have no problem with the load times, I understand that there are alot of load points and yes I agree that is a little annoying, but it does not detract from the game for me at all, and yes I did the install. For the online stuff, I'm sorry I did not try online yet, Im having fun with just the 1P aspect so I cannot comment on that, but Im sure it wasnt that great considering they almost immediately put out a notice of what was going on and updated the game to try and solve the problem. I do wish you could do a couple of more things in the quick options menu while in a race, but again it does not make me think any less of the game, I can actually see why you couldn't switch between Automatic transmission and Manula during a race in a simulator though...can't you? But the driving line I agree would be nice to turn off or on midrace. "Photo mode is photo mode - it's meant to look amazing" This is again very, very short on the details and what this mode deserves. This mode is absolutely AWESOME. What other game has anything that can compare to GT5 Justin? There are none that I can think of....not that there isn't but I certainly have never played one. The cars are placeable in so many locales, and areas then you can take absolutley stunning photos and show off your beautiful car, it really is amazing. Then you start the graphical problems, which I would actually say is the most accurate..almost the only accurate part of the review. The shadows at standstil are a little ridiculous, the trees..meh dont really bother me too much, same with the crowds..maybe because I play with full screen mode and so I'm enjoying flying around the tracks and feeling every little bump, dip and curve the road has to really is amazing the way it makes you feel you're driving a car..really fast. But back to the shadows..gotta say I NEVER once noticed them when I'm racing..also same with the smoke..all the tire smoke I've seen has been awesome, in replays I have seen a VERY slight dip in framerate sometimes, but really again barely noticeable. "The premium cars look gorgeous" This is about all you said about them..I'm sorry again you are lacking here. Did you mean the 200..that's TWO HUNDRED premium cars look gorgeous? Because you're absolutely right, they do and oh yeah there's two hundred of them. Sorry it's hard to gripe about something that no one else has done for me..maybe not for you though. Bspec mode- yeah I dont play this much, but what I have wasn't that fun even though it still looked amazing, but it's still there waiting for those people who DO like to play it. The damage on the cars thing. Ok I am level 16 and I have seen plenty of damage on my cars..not even premium ones too...I know it seems like I have unlocked more of that then when I first started, but hey I like that..I'm being rewarded with MORE content for playing the game longer..I'm sorry you have an issue with being rewarded for playing more..I don't, and maybe there are others like me as well. Im out of space,but whatuthink? 7?
  • swolern - December 2, 2010 7:40 a.m.

    GT5 in stereoscopic 3d feels like an adrenaline rush like never before. Absolutely love it.
  • sniper141 - December 1, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    OH my god its Charile Barret times a million naw just joking great rewiew honest reliable im a gamesradar fanboy
  • twinkletitsMcGee - December 1, 2010 7:16 p.m.

    @kazimierz3000 Have you read any of the stuff that the people said on metacritic. There are a bunch of 100's at the top with reviews that sound like they started up the game looked at the best tracks and cars and then gave it a 100. Just because a game has a good metacritic rating doesn't mean the game is any good. 2 of the 100's come from publications that have playstation in the title... PSX extreme said: "There are simply features and options that Gran Turismo offers that no other racing game does." so according to them if you toss a bunch of new features into a game then it deserve a 100. Playstation Lifestyle said: "Kaz Yamauchi's passion for the racing sphere shines through every aspect of the game. The incredibly-detailed cars, the slick presentation, the spot-on physics. Polyphony Digital brought its A-game. Nothing else on the market can come close to the realism and immersion you feel throughout. Gran Turismo 5 is virtual racing at its very best." But Justin's review showed us that very few of the cars and tracks were given "incredible" detail. Destructoid said: "The level of care taken by the people at Polyphony Digital shines in every aspect of this title, and this makes for a racing game that truly has no parallel. Gran Turismo 5 is a massive love letter to those that love cars. This is their dream videogame." Yes they cared so much that they have crowds ad scenery that make me feel like I am on a PS1 or PS2 at best. All three of these sources gave the game a 100 based off observations that the gamesradar review disproved. Moral of the story? A few undeserved high scores on Metacritic can raise the average to a score that the game doesn't deserve.

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