After a five year wait, we've only got a few hours until Gran Turismo 5 launches, and the global review embargo breaks tomorrow morning, at 8am Wednesday, 24th November. We've had final retail code since Monday, and thought it would be interesting to compare the initial thoughts of two huge GT fans, both PSM3 writers, who've been playing the game for a fair few hours. Their impressions couldn't be more shockingly disparate, both for and against; a primer for what we can expect from reviews tomorrow, which could vary anywhere from a glowing 9/10s, to angry 5/10s...
Why you're going to hate GT5
"First Exit On The Rantabout; Why You're Going To Hate GT5"
... writes GT fan and real life race fan, Steve Williams
We've all waited so long, wondering all the while: what's taking them so long? And now we've played it. Played Gran Turismo 5! And we're thinking... what the hell took them so long?
GT5 is a colossal disappointment. Epic. Global.
GT2 added tons of cars to a genuinely revolutionary original, leaving all other racers floundering. GT3 (eventually) added muscle cars and PS2 visuals. GT4 added the Nurburgring Nordschleife - which consequently became almost a must-have for any serious racing game - and even Prologue added a (pathetically rudimentary) online mode. Increasingly, Gran Turismo has scraped by as an AAA driving game.
And now this. So far, even after two days of play, I just can't see what GT5 adds. At all. It's just like GT4. Which was for the most part just like GT3. Which was just like GT2, which was just like GT. This once revolutionary game has stood still while the competition at first caught up, then surpassed it. Gran Turismo 5 still wants to party like it's 1999. We don't.
So what, you say? What's wrong with more of the same? Most sequels do that. It's what we want.
And in that case, congratulations. You know you'll love this already (you've already played it, after all). After five years of work the useless collision sounds are the same, the useless collisions are the same, the dry lack of speed or acceleration is the same, the environmental sterility is the same, the quagmire of dull shopping cars is the same. Those deathly license tests - so fun and innovative ten years ago - are the same, though at least here they're largely redundant at last.
Tracks of my tears
And for the most part, the tracks are the same. Polyphony's best tracks remain unrivalled, yet it hardly bothers to make more, while at least one here (SS Route 7) is one of the very worst circuits we've ever played. Ever. Plus, the spray effects are awful, anything further than five metres from the track edge looks like it was bought flatpacked from Ikea and there's noticeable screen tearing.
Yes, there are new elements and redesigned menus, although the traditional user-unfriendliness has, if anything, risen as a result. This game does nothing to help you, nothing to signpost your way forward. You spend hours clicking through menus and watching them load, just trying to get a car onto an appropriate track with a few other appropriate cars. Thrills are in short supply, and often so is driving.
New stuff? The track editor makes fun and ugly tracks. You can change the background for the car selection screens, which makes it even harder to pick a car colour. However, the feel of the tyres on tarmac is softer, more tactile and richer. Stay on line, push sensibly and it can feel pretty lush.