The Gran Turismo series has been Sony's "go to" driving games for 15 years. The sixth title in the series was announced on the 15th anniversary of the original release. This announcement received some negative feedback as GT6 was to be released on the PS3 and not the next-gen PS4. Luckily, GT6 pushes the PS3 beyond its limits as it looks as close to next-gen as possible. Offering the biggest library to date and a new physics engine that changes how every car drives, this is the best Gran Turismo to date.
Gran Turismo 5 was largely successful, but had a few glaring issues that bothered longtime fans. The biggest issue was with the inclusion of Standard cars, which were ported over from GT4 on PlayStation 2. These cars lacked the details of their Premium counterparts such as the ability to change wheels and also a detailed interior. Eventually, a standard interior was patched into the game, but it still lacked. GT6 gets rid of the difference as all the cars are up to full PS3 specs and look extremely detailed on the outside. Unfortunately, these cars still lack the detailed interiors, but the exteriors being up to par is the most important thing. All the cars can be fully customized with parts and wheels, as well. There are no longer new and used cars because of the merger, so everything is listed under dealerships.
The career mode is what the Gran Turismo series is based on. Start out with a low tier car, win races, build that car up, win more races, buy new car, and repeat. In the past, the game has just thrown you into the fire. With GT6, there is a bit of a tutorial involved, as the game walks you through everything. It is a bit streamlined at first, as the game forces you to buy a Honda Fit and jump into novice cup races, unlike the past where players had at least a few choices of cars to pick from. Beyond that, the game starts you with $30K, and you'll most likely win this money back immediately and have a fair share of cars to choose from. Earning stars in each race will unlock more race classes and license tests. The license tests are much simpler and shorter than they have been in the past. If a friend has run a certain license test, you will see their ghost on the track. There are also mini-games called Coffee Breaks that consist of knocking over cones and setting scores to compare with friends.
The menu is much more organized and everything in the game is laid out on one screen. Even the option for single and multiplayer arcade races are on the same screen. The dealerships are organized under country of origin, but can be specific to a car that is only from that continent. There is also an option for recommended cars to help give you an idea of options to choose based on what class you are in. Car customization can all be chosen from the main hub, as well. The start button will open a quick menu to change options. The entire menu is much more convenient.
Load times were a big complaint for GT5. For GT6, the times are largely improved to the point that the tracks is pulled up within 10-15 seconds. Upon starting the race, it can take a little longer to get in, but over time this will improve due to system caching.
Now for the statistical improvements for GT6. The new release sees the addition of 120 cars, and many from the FIA GT3 series. The game also includes race tracks from 37 locations with 100 layouts including Silverstone, the Goodwood Hillclimb, and Brands Hatch. The intro actually takes you to Brands Hatch to give you a feel for the handling and overall game. At this point in time, the game is missing a few features from GT5 such as B-Spec mode and the Course Maker. These will be added with patches in future updates.
The biggest and most innovative part of GT6 is clearly the new physics model for handling. Polyphony worked directly with Yokohama Rubber and KW Automotive as technical partners. This lead to insight and data for developing real car handling physics that are tied into the tires and suspension. The new dynamic have tires take into account its structure and transient characteristics, while the suspension utilizes actual vehicle analysis. Lastly, aerodynamics takes into consideration the vehicle shapes and changes in its orientation. The result is the most realistic feeling for a console car simulator ever. Every car feels different and is a prime example of that specific vehicle. Normally in the past, this reviewer would tune cars and upgrade them and have fun working with setups. This time around, there is no need to even upgrade tires, and cars that most people in the past wouldn't touch, will reach out and try something new and enjoy that ride. Something as small as the Renault Clio is extremely fun to drive as it's nimble and slides on the track really well. No longer will you need the fastest or most PP on the track to win a race, as you will find yourself using a different driving style than in the past. The technical innovations is what sets the Gran Turismo series ahead of the competition, as is the closest representation to what is found on track day.
Also being addressed in the future are the engine sounds. Currently, the sounds remain from GT5 as they did not make the cut in time (as a lot seems it hasn't). The V8's especially do not sound great, but the promise of a more advanced sound pack should give enough hope to anyone. The soundtrack is the typical Gran Turismo setup. It's a mix of alternative rock, techno, dubstep, and elevator music. The game allows for custom soundtracks, however there is no option to select certain songs from the game's official soundtrack. In-race music can be turned off if you just want to hear the car.
As for the in-game graphics, they push the PS3 to the limit. The replays look incredible as they run as 60 frames most of the time. The actual race track is photo-realistic for the most part, and the detail of the cars adds to this. There's dirt particles and weather effects that look really good. Excellent lighting helps to complete the package, but the ugliest thing you'll encounter are the shadows.
The A.I. remains a joke, unfortunately. Most of the time, they just stay in the way. You will see it try and block you or draft you and pass, but for the most part, they will still help you make corners. There's also the annoying thud sound that returns for making contact, and it doesn't change. There is still little to no damage in the game, as well. Lots of racing games lack good A.I., but a good addition to GT6 is the blindside indicator. This helps you make sure you are clear of nearby traffic and is an excellent tool to have.
Accessing online play is quicker in GT6, but is just as frustrating as the previous version. While the game works well when playing online, it is difficult to find a race outside of NASCAR races and drag races. Players are limited to what is in their garage, and actually cannot even access the online features until the A License is acquired. There are car club options now, as the best option to play online will be with a group of friends. Season events also return, so expect tons of updates in the future for new ones.
Gran Turismo 6 is truly for the automobile enthusiast. GT5 featured the special schools hosted by famous drivers. While this isn't featured this time around, the new portion called Vision Gran Turismo is included. Polyphony has teamed up with automobile makers to help design what cars to expect in the future. Over the course of the next year, manufacturers will release their design to be played in the game. The initial car comes from Mercedes, and it looks insane. The cars can be purchased as a gift once, but if sold, it will cost a million to re-purchase.
The car nerd's dream game is Gran Turismo 6. It focuses on the art involved in automobiles, from the physics to the history and heritage, all while being factorial. The game is a bit more streamlined then in the past, but that allows for easier and faster access to the racing, and not navigating through multiple, slow loading menus. With plenty of features coming down the road, GT6 looks to follow in the steps of its predecessor by providing on-going content for months to come. At the same time, it surpasses its predecessor and its competition by offering the most realistic console driving experience to date.