The Gran Turismo series has always been more than just a racing game. Ever since its debut on the original PlayStation 15 years ago, Gran Turismo has been a celebration of the motor industry as a whole with a wide variety of cars, and Gran Turismo 6 is no exception.
With over 1000 cars waiting to be driven like they’re stolen, these cars can fit the bill for anyone. However, the total number is rather inflated due to ar duplicates that GT6 contains. Do we really need over 30 versions of the Mazda MX-5? This inflated number is thanks to the fact that these cars were brought over from GT5, with the ‘Standard’ and ‘Premium’ monikers removed; it still isn’t difficult to distinguish between them. Not every car made it over from GT5, notable ones like the two Ferrari Formula 1 cars which were presumably removed due to licensing issues.
Another thing Gran Turismo is known for, apart from the wide array of motors, is how long it takes to actually get to drive them. GT6 is no exception to this. The money earned though the main career mode is on par with previous games and car prices are mostly the same, but the day one 1.01 update did drop the prices of the super quick Red Bull X cars from 20 million credits to 6 million and halved the prices of most, if not all, of the Le Mans racing cars.
Now we come to the big elephant in the room, the introduction of the supposed microtransactions. To be honest, they’re a non-issue. Firstly, because the game doesn’t even acknowledge them and most people wouldn’t be aware of them if there wasn’t a big fuss made over them. Secondly, the game gives out credits in a way in which you’ll only need to grind if you waste your credits. Going for gold on the events in the game is the best way to earn credit, because cars aren’t given out as freely as previous games.
GT6 has the most varied and well-executed single player career in the series’ history. From the usual races you would expect to more oddball events like the Coffee Breaks, which has events that vary from knocking over cones in an area to trying to do a lap of Suzuka with only 1 litre of fuel. This type of variety is what GT5 was sorely missing and is a welcome distraction from the expected amount of racing. Other events are found in the ‘Special Events’ section. Included here are the moon rover events and the Goodwood Festival of Speed Trials, which have you driving on the famous stretch of road in various cars from different eras, from the Ford GT40 to the Red Bull X2010 Prototype.
Moving from event to event is much faster in GT6 than in GT5 thanks to the redesigned menus and shorter loading times, which make navigating the game much less of an irritating experience. One other change for the better is that License Tests are once again mandatory to progress in the game unlike in GT5. However, instead of ten tests, there are only five, making them less of a pain.
The race events themselves are various and are based around different types of cars, from front-wheel drive cars to turbocharged ones and even go-karts. Yes, go-karts. Performance points, an indicator for a car’s general performance, are a requirement for every race event in GT6, and you have to make sure that your car is within the limit in order to be able to race. If your car can’t match the opposition, then you can go and upgrade it in the Tuning Parts store or by pressing the Start button and hitting Car Settings. Here, you can buy upgrades which will alter your car in different ways, from improving its handling to making it quicker in a straight line to making it easier or more difficult to drive. This system works the same as it has through the history of Gran Turismo.
Also in this section is where you can buy different wheels or spoilers for your car, wash, clean or rebuild the engine. You can also re-paint your car a different colour if you so wish. You can also buy different race gear here, too, to give your driver a more distinctive look. The prices of these vary, where the cheapest are the helmet and overalls of Top Gear’s enigmatic ‘tamed racing driver’ The Stig. Whether or not that’s a jab at their coziness with a certain other racing series or not is unknown. On the other end of the price spectrum is a special outfit added in the 1.01 update, which is that of F1 legend Ayrton Senna from his 1988 championship winning year at McLaren. It’s yours for 500,000 credits. Sadly, there’s no sign of the MP4/4 car that he won with in the game as of yet.
Being on a track in Gran Turismo is where the heart of the game is and is where GT6 is at its best–and worse. The best of GT6 is the new handling physics, which make the cars feel more lively and exciting to control. Cars will now oversteer when lifting off the accelerator when going too fast into a bend and the curbs and bumps are felt more severely than before, making getting the cars onto two wheels or even rolling it that much easier to do. Keeping the default driving aids on makes the feeling of cars neutral and switching them off is advised if you want the most from the game.
Unfortunately, the sounds that the cars make are still the Achilles heel. They are just awful and sound a lot like vacuum cleaners most of the time. It’s mind boggling how Polyphony has yet to address this since it has been a problem for some time. Another problem is related to the hardware the game runs on: the PS3; the anticipation for a PlayStation 4 version is high.
Gran Turismo 6 is a strain on the seven-year-old hardware, and as such, graphical issues have cropped up which detract from an otherwise gorgeous looking game. Shadows in the game tend to flicker and move or looked pixelated and a large amount of technical “jaggies” are present, which can ruin the look of some cars. There is also times when trackside objects suddenly pop into view when driving by, which is jarring to see. If these issues aren’t present or don’t stick out like a sore thumb, then this a wonderful looking game that runs well for the most part with only minor framerate drops; some may be more sensitive to framerate issues than others.
The opponent AI is better than in previous games, but it’s not enough to say that they are a real challenge if you have a good enough car. They do move off the racing line and try to overtake more, but for the most part, they brake more often than necessary and don’t seem to push as much as any real driver would. For any real challenge, you have to have a vastly inferior car to everyone else, which isn’t good enough.
The number of tracks in GT6 is good and the variety of them is great also. All of the tracks in GT5 are here, including the added DLC tracks, with the exception of the Top Gear test track, due to a broken deal between Top Gear and Polyphony. There are new tracks too as well, such as the returning Apricot Hill, which debuted in GT2. Here, it has been made more undulating with higher rises and steeper drops. It also feels a bit wider than it did in the past. The best newcomer is definitely Brands Hatch, which is a fantastic showcase for the new handling physics. There are tracks that could still be included from previous games, particularly Midfield Raceway from Gran Turismo 1, that haven’t which would be nice to see come back.
Other features from GT5 return as well. Photo Travel, which allows you to take pictures of your cars in various locations, has returned. Also back is the much loved feature which came in the 2.00 update from GT5: Seasonal Events. However, unlike in GT5, the payout is not anywhere near as generous. Though, that is surely because they don’t want players getting too much money so quickly after starting the game.
GT6 also has online multiplayer which is largely the same as it appeared in GT5. There is now the option of qualifying before a race and saving your lobby settings so that they can be used later. The options themselves are quite vast, and they allow to select everything: tires, power, drivetrain, allowed tuning, to even specific cars, and many more options.
There is also local split-screen multiplayer for two players, but it’s rather basic. You can only pick tracks and cars that are unlocked on the account you’re playing on or from a pre-selected choice of cars; these same options apply to single player arcade mode racing too.
For everything that included in GT6, there is also quite a bit that isn’t. The GPS track maker isn’t here, nor are the Sebastian Vettel Red Bull X2014 or the Ayrton Senna events. B-Spec mode has gone AWOL too. These will come over time, as the improvements to GT5 did but with the PS4 now here, you have to wonder if the updates will be as constant as they were for GT5. The same goes for patching support and DLC; Polyphony know that there can’t be a long wait for a Gran Turismo game on PS4 like there was for the PS3.
Gran Turismo 6 is the best in the series to date. It improves on many areas that have held the series back, but it still has lingering problems that should have been a thing of the past, which isn’t a discredit to what Polyphony Digital has achieved here. For the PS3, this is the end of the line in terms of big first party games, and it’s a solid ending. GT6 is one of the PS3’s final swansong.