Sony and Polyphony Digital’s latest entry in the long running driving simulator is sure to be welcomed by hardcore fans of the series. For most players though, Gran Turismo 6 mainly presents a series of tweaks and revisions, feeling more like it’s been fine-tuned rather than given a turbo-charged engine overhaul.
It is, however, visually impressive with engaging gameplay from the off. The new Trackday mode is probably the best tutorial in the series’ history, getting newcomers or lapsed players up to speed in a quick and enjoyable fashion, while the tracks you’ll be racing around – including the UK’s own Brands Hatch, making its series debut – are brilliantly recreated. Progression through the game’s tiers is still made by earning licenses, though now stars are also awarded with each race win. Certain classes of races or side modes, such as the Coffee Break Challenges, will be sealed off until you’ve racked up enough stars. This actually works well, giving less dedicated players chance to race around and enjoy the game on a surface level, without slogging through the gruelling leagues.
Make no mistake, GT6 is challenging, demanding precise control and attention at all times – no ‘foot on the gas, vaguely point car, win’ races, here. But this is also where the game really shines; not in the chrome plating of its near-countless vehicles, but under the virtual hood. The new physics system Polyphony has come up with is, simply put, fantastic, each vehicle responding perfectly and with even minor modifications – such as to suspension – bearing significant differences on the track. Getting to grips with each vehicle’s nuances and finally cracking a tricky race is almost cathartic.
The flipside to this is that progress is also slow, both to succeed in any given race or league and to accrue enough credits to buy new cars. Prepare for an excessive amount of grinding if you’re the type of racer who likes to unlock everything, or a dip into your wallet to splash out via in-game purchases. Default controls also feel awkward, using face buttons for acceleration and braking over the ‘industry standard’ of shoulder buttons, though this can be changed. The best experience will be to play with a steering wheel peripheral though, offering definitive command of your car. Our biggest gripe is the continued absence of anything close to a realistic damage system, a lingering problem for Gran Turismo as a series. You can expect to trundle away from a 150mph collision with little more than a dink in the bumper – disappointing, given the push for authenticity and accuracy in all other areas of the game.
Gran Turismo 6 is imperfect then, but an enjoyable and authentic recreation of real racing nonetheless. A fine example of what the PS3 can still do in its twilight years.
Reviewed by Matt Kamen