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New ‘Gran Turismo’ title is as realistic as racing gets

Six years have passed since the last installment in the video game series known as “real driving simulator.” After several delays, the fifth installment in the series of “Gran Turismo” is finished and, for the first time in the franchise, is available for the PlayStation 3.

With six years in development comes new features, but many parts have been recycled to sustain its authentic simulator feel.

There are more than 1,000 cars to race, 26 locations and 71 tracks. Notable additions to the franchise are the licenses of the World Rally Championship, NASCAR and Super GT racing franchises.

Polyphony Digital Inc. has been known to create the almost photo-realistic renderings of cars in the game. The trend continues in this version, but there are a few noticeable blunders at the start.

In the beginning of the game, the cars available are labeled as “standard.” The other option is the “premium” cars, which are accessible later by earning experience and increasing levels. Visually, the two differ in that the premium cars are better textured and clean while the standard cars look slightly jagged — similar to their PlayStation 2 counterparts.

For some players, the perspective while racing is key. The interiors of standard cars do not have the cockpit option while premium cars do. But the pros outweigh the cons for standard cars because they are still incredibly fun to drive.

The handling of the cars is as realistic as it gets. Push the cars too hard and they will punish you, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you win a race.

Pending skill, frustration is inevitable when racing. Ignoring screeching tires or the resistance of the force feedback wheel is enough to lose the race.

The game’s “My Life” interface juggles the array of play options and online capability while remaining custom to the player’s persona. Navigating the menus can be clunky, and load times are long enough to cook a three-course meal between play.

Gran Turismo 5 stands above the previous four titles. Rewarding, realistic and accessible describe it best.

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