driving around the Matterhorn is a postcard anyone would be happy to receive”
I don’t often get to go near mainstream titles for NZGamer.com.
It’s not that they don’t trust me. It’s not as though, for example, they view me as some sort of obscure, mainstream-despising troll, lurking in a crevice somewhere, smoking evil-looking yellow herbs and hissing at the puerile passersby. I’m sure they don’t think that. That being said, I don’t get to go near mainstream titles. Usually things I get given to review have titles that contain lots of the letter ‘x’; often they’ll also contain a colon, like Gundarr the Barbarian: The Menstrual Years, or brackets, like Bare-Handed Bass Fishing (Feel The Bass!)
And that’s great. I really like reviewing games (which is why so far there has been no reviewing in this game review), and the weird and surprising games are sometimes more exciting than the blockbuster titles. However, this means that when I go into a game, I’m walking in blind. It’s hard to be biased towards a game you did not know existed until you received it in the mail.
But not anymore. Because I get to review Gran Turismo 6. OK. That’s a big title. And I know stuff about Gran Turismo. I have extensive knowledge of the series. I come prepared for this review. I own every iteration of the Gran Turismo series since Gran Turismo 3, which to me is the furthest back you can go to still find a comparable level of driving physics to today’s games.
Also, for the most part, I am not willing to admit I’m good at certain videogames; like, I know I’m decent at Tekken, but I would never say to someone else who was decent at Tekken, sup, I’m really good at Tekken, let’s battle it out, because I know there are people in Internetland who have devoted far more hours to being exceptional at Tekken than I am willing to. But I legitimately am really quite good at Gran Turismo. So, this will be an actually quite well thought out and educated review. Maybe.
LET THE REVIEW BEGIN.
I don’t know anything about cars. I have no interest in cars. I drive a car because I have stubby little legs that stop me walking places quickly, like a mid-metamorphosis tadpole. But I’ve diligently and lovingly played every Gran Turismo title to appear since the advent of the PS2.
This is because, to me, the joy of Gran Turismo is in unlocking, progressing, getting faster, more badass, winning more money and more friends, much like my idol Pitbull. Gran Turismo is like Pokemon, but with cars. It’s an RPG where all of the main characters are vehicles, and none of them can talk, and there’s no story, and instead of fighting obscure Japanese monsters I race against other cars that also don’t talk but that I am more than happy to ram off the road without mercy.
So, if you want a review to rant about types of cars, and the sheer scope of the garage in Gran Turismo 6, this is not it. Everyone already knows there’s like sixteen million cars in Gran Turismo, I’m not going to mention it again. Now go to the back of the class, Smithers.
Boy, that heading is going to seem so clever when you find out what this paragraph is about! One of the things I have always enjoyed about the Gran Turismo series is that if you are good at the game, there are ways of letting the game know that you’re good, which lets you progress perhaps that little bit more quickly.
One such way is through license testing. In order to enter certain races you need a license; National B, National A, International B, etc. In order to obtain said license, you complete a series of (usually) ten tests, cornering, overtaking, parallel parking (joking), and so on - each to a level of bronze, silver, or gold.
If you complete every test to a bronze level, you obtain a fairly crappy car and the license, whereas for getting all silver or gold you get better cars. So if you’re really good and can get straight golds without hassle, you’re in the money for a fast car fairly quickly.
This is no longer the case. GT6 places much less emphasis on the licenses, possibly because some people view them as a difficult and boring aspect of the franchise. There’s only five tests per license now, and the cars you get for getting all golds kind of seem to suck. No more easy-peasy frequent flyer miles.
Also, prize cars are much fewer and further between. In pretty much every game in the franchise's past, winning a race series would reward you with a prize car - but not anymore. Each race will reward you with a number of stars – one for completing, one for placing, and another if you manage to win. When you get half of the stars in a race division, National B, National A, and so on, you receive a car, and another for obtaining all the stars. It’s going to take a long time to build up a collection of vehicles, which if you like the long haul - as I do - is actually quite an exciting element.
Jokes, it’s just a race. Where it counts, Gran Turismo 6 has it – racing, and lots of it. Career mode is massive, and putting ten or so hours into the game isn’t even going to make a dent in the sheer number of events available.
Racing missions, one-make races, and the ever-devilish coffee breaks make a return also. If you’ve never played a GT title before, a coffee break is where a seemingly fun and relaxing title is given to a ridiculously frustrating and irritating task. Failing the first drifting challenge over, and over, and over again makes me want to punch my car in the face for being so crap at drifting, but that’s exactly what fans of the series will expect from the insidious feature that is the coffee break.
Other new additions are the moon missions, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The moon mission is kind of fun, but ultimately pointless, and involves you driving point to point, or knocking over cones, in zero gravity on the moon in a rover that weighs 35 moon kilograms. The Festival of Speed sees you complete the same course with a variety of vastly different cars, and is actually an extremely cool way to see how different the course drives every time.
No cute, flashy title for this section because there’s nothing cute or flashy about this section. Graphically, the game is fine. Before the release of GT5 people raved about how realistic the cars were, and yeah, they were realistic.
They’re still realistic in Gran Turismo 6. Some of the environments are lovely, it’s true, and driving around the Matterhorn is a postcard anyone would be happy to receive, but I can’t help but feel those environments were still pretty lovely in the last game, and even in the one before that. It’s not a complaint, because, what else could they do, but it’s not a ‘wow, look how incredible that is’ either.
I may as well put sound in here as well. The sounds are good. The cars sound like cars. Small elements of laziness are present; driving on a dirt track in a rally car produces a sound an awful lot like a moon rover produces when it is driving on the moon, which hardly seems legit to me. The music is pretty average, and sounds like a car commercial, for cars. Cars. Realistic looking and sounding cars. And lots and lots of dubstep.
Sort of. In a lot of ways Gran Turismo 6 is a much more fluid game than its predecessor, a game I absolutely loved and played an unhealthy amount of. Loading times have been reduced from what I can tell, and it’s much easier to navigate from arcade to career mode to online than it has been in the past. Minor changes have been made, yes, and the car physics feel good and racing is fun, but that’s it, really.
New tracks and things like the moon landing missions are all very nice, but there’s not a lot you can add to the Gran Turismo mix anymore it seems. There was much stress in the lead up to the game’s release that micro-transactions and the introduction of real-dollar credits might ruin Gran Turismo 6, but in truth the feature is barely noticeable and far less obtrusive than it could be (just look at the Need for Speed series lately.)
This will be a game I play for a long time, it’s true; if we’re basing it solely on that, then this game is excellent and should be praised as such. But, seeing as there are other factors at play, like actually progressing the franchise, and impressing graphically, and not reusing sound effects, it’s perhaps best to call Gran Turismo 6 a successful, if modest, addition to a wonderful franchise.
And there is something to be said for the thrill of thinking you could feasibly put hundreds of hours into this game and still have new cars to unlock. Replay value here is through the roof, but if you didn’t get that into playing it the first time, it might not be for you.