iLLScore - 7.3
Summary : When it comes to detailing, GT6 is an amazing racing experience, and definitely a developer’s tribute to a retreating console. But a few clunky moments, and you know that it is just a game. Game complexity, huge database and stunning visuals make GT6 a highly recommendable racing sim.
There are street racing games and there is Gran Turismo. Ever since the Playstation debut, Gran Turismo tried to stay within the boundaries of strategic racing, courting a hundred of decisions for you to make. This was never about the thrills; this was about how you built your car for the Drive Day. Although GT5 did its best to carry forward the racing simulation breed, it was not received quite so wholeheartedly. Enter Gran Turismo 6.
When the age of the PlayStation 3 is near ending, Gran Turismo comes to showcase what the console can still achieve. Developers Polyphony understood from the previous failings and brought a game that was easily tameable. If the confusing and deceiving GT5 menu still haunts you in sleep, then you should totally warm up to GT6. The main menu is an absolute joy, keeping everything under segments. Find your career races, the arcade/party games with friends, online lobby, the car market and the challenges all aligned under different sections. The experience based game progression that marred a well conceived GT5 has been dealt with. In GT6, as you finish in a race, you earn stars, collect as many as the level asks you to; and take a driving test in the end to break the level and move to the next.
Like every simulation game, the progression is the key to capturing and retaining the player’s interest. Gran Turismo 6 fulfils its job of keeping the career mode as lively as ever, giving you perks and unlocking levels accordingly. It teaches you about terrain control and car customisation before moving you up in the ladder. You begin your GT career as a Novice driver (who goes to Sunday Rallies and Amateur Races), and as you progress through, you unlock the two National licenses. The Novice Races teach you the basics of car control, with very few sharp turns and an almost dead AI. However, your real race starts when you are available for National B races, testing you with turns, uphills, downhills, mud, cones and a much improved competitive AI.
Each level needs you to acquire a predefined number of stars (by taking part and winning in races) for you to take the drive test for the level above it, and successfully move up. After you’ve cracked the International B license, you are shown a horde of international races, like Tour of Japan, Polyphony Digital Cup and my favourite British Lightweights. Alongside you unlock the Red Bull X Challenge, wherein veteran Sebastian Vettel teaches you about pro racing and challenges you to up your skills and participate in the mission based races.
The game feels like a mix of simulation and real racing, thanks to the cohesive gameplay that shows me all the precise details that my car currently represents. You can customise the loadout of your car/s before a race in order to bolster its performance or narrow it down to be eligible for the low ranked races. You can buy Tuning Parts, Racing Gear for your avatar, Custom Parts, Paint or drive your car to a Pit Service from the Main Menu. Tuning Parts are further divided into five basic categories:
- Tyres – Choose from Comfort, Sports, Racing and Dirt and Snow categories (each having subparts)
- Suspension – Here you get all your Suspension and Brake Kits
- Drivetrain – Marketplace for Transmissions, Clutches and Flywheels or Shafts
- Power – Engines, Exhausts and Intakes, Gauges, Turbo Kits and Nitro Boosters reside here
- Body – These are essentially your car weight calibrations, comprising of tools for Weight Reduction and Lightweight Bonnets and Window Weight Reduction
When you are not participating heavily in championships, take a look around and you will find side missions like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the outrageous Lunar Exploration. Even though Lunar Exploration is miles away from the real racing, it gives you a deep insight into how rovers work in the outerspace, typical educational experience from team Gran Turismo.
Or just give in to your aesthetical and creative self and drive your car to some of the grandest spots in the world, and click pictures like a pro. GT6’s Photo Travel is a hardcore photography session that makes the beauty of the car complement your peace of mind, immediately after a fierce rally.
The HUD during the races is minimal, allowing you to focus more on the tracks. Alerts to guide you drift at corners can help you survive an uphill or slope. The in-game leaderboard is down to the last details, but its aesthetic placement and fonts keep it away from your front view.
Races and Game Physics
There are several types of races for you to participate in, and each type will decide whether you are eligible or not by matching your car specifications. Keep some handy hatchbacks in the garage, don’t upgrade them to monsters, because there will be times when you will be barred from entering Sunday Rallies. The Novice level has Sunday Races, an Amateur Cup and a Championship to help you get started. Once you reach National B, you will be contesting in 500 PP (Car Specs) Clubman Cup, Cart Rallies, Night Races, European Hatchback Series (My favourite of the lot) and Muscle Car Showdowns. From here on you make way to the Supercar license and unlock the real monsters of GT6, including the concept cars.
The game physics is tactically tight, challenging you with both hard curves and deadly terrain. But the overall experience is not wholeheartedly purist. Ramming into corners and edges feel a little classier because of its damage physics. The car would bump into a wall and stay there like a box. The noises created for damage SFX is not what I had originally expected. They sound like anything but a supercar colliding into a wall. The lack of side mirrors make turns dead costly if you do not check your mini map for incoming opponents. Overtaking cars is definitely not a piece of cake no matter what car you drive, and most of the races are won at turns. The steering animation also looks a little lifeless and the car inside do not make damage reaction at all.
Cars and Tracks
What has always excited me in GT are the cars that become the plot of the story. And GT6 brings the best cars to action, including the classic models from the other Gran Turismo series. Instead of doing a whole database search, you can now search for cars using the Dealership menu. And it would show you the various Car Manufacturers along with their creations and price/power tags. You have the likes of Audi, Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini, Bentley and BMW poised harmoniously with the others in the fray, like Lotus, Maserati, Vauxhall and Pagani. GT6 throws a massive market of cars to you, and you pick and choose your favourite baby out of the lot. Buy upgrades and visit after-sales services if you want to make a monster out of your favourite car.
If cars are my first love from GT series, the Racing Tracks have to be my second love. Gran Turismo excels in the tracks department more than anyone else in the genre. Offering you a list of challenging, diverse and real tracks that improve you as a professional racer. Retaining most of the trademark tracks from Gran Turismo 5 (like Nürburgring) and introducing the likes of Silverstone and Apricot Hill Raceway for the first time to the franchise. Each track has been executed to finesse and keeps up to the GT measures.
Gran Turismo can boast of some of the most artistic races ever, ranging from the track detailing to the audience. If you go at high speed, you might miss some of the intricate detailing within each track that makes it look like the real deal. There is a big deal in viewing the replay after completing a race, whether you finished on top or swaggered at the bottom. The camera transitions catch the very best of action and visual bits from the game. It almost feels like a movie.
Sound Effects and Soundtrack
The collision sound effect is a big turn off, but nothing beats the same mundane sound that every car lets out, irrespective or its class or manufacturer brand. A buzz that deduces your well earned engine into a bee hive. A franchise that boasts of its minute detailing should take this aspect up as soon as possible and make sure that the future endeavours are better, sleeker and close to perfect manifestations.
Even though Gran Turismo is never known for its Radio Listing, unlike Need For Speed or the likes, however Gran Turismo 6 surprises us all by putting a few commercial tracks along with the rare ones, that including Depeche Mode’s Soothe My Soul Remix.
Image Credit: GT6 Official Website