UpDate: A Gran Turismo Romance

Gran Turismo 5 was one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the 21st Century. On its release, however, it did not meet gamers’ expectations. Since then it has improved, slowly working its way into the hearts of gamers and turning into a rather good game after all.

But why when it was released was it so bad, and how has it turned itself around? Why is it now judged to be a game worth buying as opposed to other games such as Killzone 2?

The answer lies in system updates. This feature was added to the PS3 to enhance games, and this is one of the reasons gamers paid so much for the console. The enhancement meant games could be updated and new copies did not have to be bought every year to gain the latest gaming experience.

But to understand why the game has improved, we first need to understand what made it so bad.

One of the main irritations for gamers was the wait for Gran Turismo 5 to be released. When it was first announced to be in development, its release was to coincide with the PS3’s arrival onto the market. As such, it would dominate the gaming community until the release of Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (which was released a year after the PS3 itself).

But then it was delayed. And delayed. Then delayed some more. A demo of the game was released (Gran Turismo 5 Prologue). This seemed to explain to gamers what they had been waiting for, how detailed the graphics were, how fun the Gran Turismo series is. Then the full game was delayed again. Only the loyal fans stayed in hope of a game to beat all other games.

Following ten years of production, the game was released yet gamers were made to wait again. This time, because the game took so long to load. For each race there were 2 loading screens. Each took between 10 and 20 seconds to load, with nothing to entertain people while they waited. While other games have something to watch or listen to, Gran Turismo players had no noise and a black screen.

Gamers were frustrated by how long they had been made to wait per race. And then came a system update, designed specifically to reduce the loading time.

Now gamers must wait a third of the time they previously had to, meaning in an hours worth of playing time you could race at least one more race, which is vital for fast completion of a game. First fault…fixed.

The newest feature of games on all platforms is the addition of online play. It is an expansion on multiplayer as it provides the opportunity to play games with others, without requiring their presence in the room. This ability is a huge hit and has revolutionised gaming. This is the first attempt by Gran Turismo to conquer the online world, so a lot of scrutiny has been placed on this aspect of the game.

The online play was awful. The chances of actually getting into a race were slim, and when you hit on a game you needed to wait a lifetime while everyone connected. If you missed the beginning of the race there was no hope that you would win. As such, the online feature did not work for Gran Turismo 5.

That was until a system update was released rejuvenating the online racing world. The update added bonus races, time trials and drift trials, allowing you to take part in an online leaderboard and win money which can be used in the actual game.

These races are updated on a weekly basis and allow amateur gamers the opportunity to compete with the best in the world in a race for top spot, with an in-game incentive at the end. The bonus races provide a fun and easy way to win money and race in an online environment in various cars. This is a huge improvement on the original ten minutes to race with no fixed outcome.

Then came the whole issue of the graphics. The scenery is some of the best ever created. Light glistens off the tarmac and the way the mountain ranges peak with various amounts of snow lying

on their hillsides looks incredibly realistic. However it is a car game and the cars do not look good at all.

In the game there are 2 makes of car. There are the Premium models which are the pinnacle of modern design, with every curve perfectly crafted. On the other hand, there are the Standard models which have been copied and pasted from Gran Turismo 4. This means the graphics for these cars are over 7 years old.

Instead of designing each car featured in the game, of which there are over 1000, the majority have been pasted in from past designs.

This makes the graphics abysmal. You are given the wonderful scenery and then made to drive through it in PS2 era graphics. I say ‘made to’ due to the game forcing you to buy a ‘Standard model’ as your first, and the Standard cars being a lot more realistically priced. People bought the game because it was said to be pushing the boundaries to the verge of the cars being real-life.

To highlight the importance of this issue, the cars transported from GT4 are made of 4,000 polygons. Those from GT5 are made of 20,000 polygons. That means the new cars are 5 times more detailed. The Standard models have no interiors, and no moving parts such as headlights and windscreen wipers (which are features of all Premium cars).

It is, realistically, impossible to fix this without making gamers wait a few hours for a hefty update to install. However, with the release of the bonus races, there is an incentive to use Premium cars as opposed to sticking with the Standard models. The bonus races specify which car to use, and this is a car which can only be bought in a new car dealership (which supplies the Premium cars).

So although the rather annoying poor graphics are still a prominent feature in the main game, there is a movement towards using the better quality cars as opposed to the cheaper worse looking versions.

The three main downfalls of the game, graphics, online and the loading times have been resolved. As such, gamers are forced to look deeper and into the more technical aspects of the game to find flaws.

Perhaps gamers should begin to forgive and forget, give Gran Turismo a second chance. Since the updates the game has started to fulfil its potential. Try it. You may be surprised at what you find.