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Gran Turismo 6 struggles to find the line between quantity and quality

Gran Turismo 6 struggles to find the line between quantity and quality

Fri 06 Dec 2013 11:11am GMT / 6:11am EST / 3:11am PST
PublishingDevelopment

Polyphony Digital's latest excels in familiar ways, but critics lament the lack of new ideas

By the time Gran Turismo 5 finally released on PlayStation 3, it was difficult to know whether to applaud or sigh. Launching more than five years after its reveal at E3 in 2005, Polyphony Digital's sprawling, intricate game was justly praised by the critics, but there was a creeping sense that it wasn't quite worth the wait. Like Blizzard's Diablo 3 or Remedy's Alan Wake, Gran Turismo 5's development surpassed the point where the finished product can satisfy the expectation, no matter how polished or entertaining it proves to be.

"There's an age old argument that simulation racing games are 'just cars going around in circles' - Gran Turismo 6 has no retort"

Fans of the series have not been forced to suffer such a protracted development again. Gran Turismo 6 is here after a mere three years, ready to breathe fresh life into a console now very much in the shadow of the new generation. Most reviewers seem to agree that, at times, Polyphony Digital's visual work looks like it belongs on a PlayStation 4, but just as many note a striking inconsistency in the standard of execution.

Chief among them is EGM, which gives the game 7 out of 10 for excelling in all of the familiar ways, and falling short with equivalent predictability. Polyphony Digital seems hesitant to ring in the changes in its flagship series, and the result is a game that feels like an update rather than a, "true sequel.

"[The] aspects that serve as cornerstones for a good racing sim remain, [but] the flaws of the past linger in the experience as well-most markedly the awful visuals. Some minor improvements have been made, such as the convoluted user interface of past games being overhauled. Once you get into a race, however, the photorealistic backgrounds in the distance may look nice, but everything on or around the immediate track area looks like something from the start of the PS3 generation-not the end of it.

1

"And the screen tearing! Dear god the screen tearing! My head started to hurt after about an hour, due to the out-of-sync refresh and framerate drops, especially when hitting higher speeds or in stormy weather. Flaws like this feel amplified in a racing game because of the split-second decisions players have to make. I had to call in a couple of the other EGM editors to confirm that this was what I was seeing, since these problems - prevalent in GT5 - still clearly plague the series three years later."

IGN seems similarly baffled by Polyphony's desire to take a confident step forwards, then another two in retreat. Gran Turismo 6 is, it claims, "a remarkable racing game," and improvement on its predecessor that sets new standards for handling and choice of both cars and tracks. But an absence of progress in several areas of lingering concern - both damage modelling and sound are criticised in a number of reviews - is difficult to justify in the series' sixth entry, and so the game is awarded a measured 8 out of 10.

"Familiar old series gripes... partially undermine everything developer Polyphony does so right, and they're gripes that are persistently nibbling away at the foundations of this genre titan.

"Familiar old series gripes partially undermine everything developer Polyphony does so right"

IGN

"It definitely does feel like GT6 focuses on car quantity over quality in other departments. While it's a huge roster, it's a list that remains heavily weighted towards cars from the '90s and early 2000s that appeared in GT3 and GT4... There are many, many amazing cars here and the 1,200-car milestone is a neat bullet point, but there are also plenty of inclusions that are gratuitous padding at best. Do you know the difference between a 2002 Daihatsu Copen Active Top and a 2002 Daihatsu Copen Detachable Top? Because I don't know that I do. Do we really continue to need both? And just because Nissan painted a Skyline Midnight Purple doesn't mean you get to count it twice, Polyphony."

The sense that Gran Turismo 6 is attempting to coast on the strength of its exhaustive list of cars and tracks - a legitimate benefit, to be fair - crops up in a number of reviews. Videogamer seems the most aggrieved, awarding it a 6 out of 10, one of the lowest scores published at the time of writing. There are, the bemused reviewer notes, 101 different Mazdas in the game, and this opulence of choice disguises a host of glaring flaws.

"The numbers have phased into insignificance at this point, but Gran Turismo 6 is unparalleled in its number of cars, tracks and intricate options for customisation. With over 1200 vehicles and 100 courses, there's no denying the sheer level of content here, but Gran Turismo 6 is merely an expansion, not an evolution.

"From the very start, Gran Turismo 6 feels dated. Its menus are convoluted and make little sense. For example, the button that means 'continue' is actually called 'exit', and is hidden past lots of needless options. When buying cars for events, you have to manually check what type of vehicle you need, then head to the dealership - there's no way to simply view and buy eligible vehicles for particular championships. With 101 Mazdas to sort through, it's nonsensical and frustrating.

"There's an age old argument that simulation racing games are 'just cars going around in circles' - Gran Turismo 6 has no retort."

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But Polygon does, opening its 9 out of 10 review on the exact sentiment with which Videogamer's closes. Presumably, there was no contact between the two critics , but the coincidence underlines a very important point. When it comes to a series like Gran Turismo - a paragon of excellence in its genre for more than 15 years - a certain amount of quality is assumed, and goes largely unremarked upon in reviews. Gran Turismo remains an excellent product in almost all of the things that really matter to a simulation racing game, and, more importantly, to the series' fiercely loyal base of fans. To one person, the enormous effort applied to car models while other areas lag behind can seem foolhardy, to another it is evidence that Polyphony Digital understands its priorities.

"Before going into the game, those cars meant nothing to me; Gran Turismo 6 was able to forge a relationship and make me understand them"

Polygon

"If you're not into racing games, it can be easy to dismiss them as repetitive - 'You're just driving in circles.'

"Gran Turismo's passion for that connection between man and machine has never been more obvious than in this latest iteration. It comes across in the huge number of locales you can race at, the variety of event types and the unbelievably lengthy list of vehicles available in the game. But developer Polyphony Digital doesn't just use those intimidating numbers as a crutch or a mere back-of-the-box bullet point. It actively celebrates how many things can be done with cars and how different they can all feel.

"Even as someone who doesn't own a car and barely drives, I found myself deeply interested in the performance of each vehicle and how it related to my own play style. I discovered that I loved the handling and acceleration offered by the Camaro SS '10, while it took me hours to perfect cornering without flying off of the track in a powerful Nissan GT-R '12.

"Before going into the game, those cars meant nothing to me; Gran Turismo 6 was able to forge a relationship and make me understand them."

As noted in Polygon's review, Gran Turismo 6's online functions will only be available following a day-one patch. As such, reviewers were not able to properly assess the game's implementation of micro-transactions, which have the potential to create a similar controversy to that which greeted Turn 10's Forza 5.

17 Comments

And if you can wait a lil longer, GT7 on PS4 2014!

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Christian Keichel
Journalist

640 876 1.4
And if you can wait a lil longer, GT7 on PS4 2014!
IF it comes out in 2014 it will be just GT6 with a more stable framerate, slightly better lighting and more particles, when you hit another car.

Posted:8 months ago

#2
live damage on GT7 (6.1) would be nice

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
I would buy GT6 for PS4, as long as it looks better than the PS3 version. I'll take any excuse I can get to buy a G27 wheel, $179 refurbished!!!!!!

Posted:8 months ago

#4
What a great game. There is something fascinating about driving in the varied tracks Gran Turismo provides. Rome, Madrid...places I loved visiting and where I can drive at crazy speeds using my own day to day car. That's a powerful fantasy, specially if you use a wheel. Also, what a great lighting system.

Shame that Xbox one doesn't support standard wheels. I like Forza's driving model too, but I can't afford to have a wheel for each system they release. I already have a driving force GT for PS3/Pc and hopefully PS4. I also have the MS wheel for the 360 and I'm sure as hell that I won't purchase another big peripheral for the xbone just to play Forza.

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Roman Margold
Rendering Software Engineer

24 34 1.4
And if you can wait a lil longer, GT7 on PS4 2014!
I highly doubt it. There's Drive Club "now", so Sony is in no rush to roll out another exclusive racer (in a way it would probably undermine it), and Polyphony must have invested a great amount of non-transferrable engineering effort into making this (all those SPUs doing the fancy graphics).

As for the reviews, any 6's and 7's are really slaps on the face of serious journalism/reviewership. In these times of insane abundance of unwanted content, with all those tacked-on features in all the monstrous games that have no self-awareness, it's silly that a game that actually knows what's important for it and, more so, what's important for those playing it, can get a 6. I'd criticize GT all day long, but I'd still give it 8-9, for all the reasons Polygon mentions.

Posted:8 months ago

#6

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Hmmm. Perhaps Polyphony needs to take a little break and whip out an Omega Boost sequel or hell, a Motor Toon game just for fun while they dive into the PS4 hardware and get GT7 ready to cook. I can wait a few years for that. Ah well, I'll be playing 6 soon enough... with a garage full of Skylines or Mazdas only just for fun's sake... ;^)

Posted:8 months ago

#7
There is OFFICIALLY no GT6 for PS4. They called it GT7 apparently, for 2014 launch. Maybe they made GT6/7 in tandem but coded for PS4 with PS3 backwards compatability

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Roman Margold
Rendering Software Engineer

24 34 1.4
@Dr. Chee: The closest statement to that that I found is "We don't want to take too long on Gran Turismo 7... Best-case scenario? Next year" by Yamauchi, which, translated from Polyphony's language to English, means 2016 at best :) I'll actually give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for 2015 .o]

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Donald Dalley
Freelance writer

50 31 0.6
Polyphony doesn't do ports, so the code base won't be the same. That means the next version should be a while, regardless of rumours.

I have GT6 and while it has a few problems and a few oddities (every GT does) this is one amazing release. The physics are so much improved. Sound is much improved and we hear that more is coming. Some of the complaints listed above sound like someone wants to pick at old wounds. Really. I have seen stuttering when loading tracks, but I haven't noticed shearing yet.

I just opened up on-line last night, which is where I will spend most of my time, so I have yet to assess that part. You are welcome to join me.

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
I've been thinking, and I mentioned this to a number of people around the release of GT5 but outsourcing probably wouldn't hurt when it comes to some of the assets in this game. A lot of cutbacks had to be made (including the old premium vs standard car model debacle) despite the long development time as the scope still exceeded it.

GT7 will be even bigger, even more ambitious and require even more resource but I don't think Polyphony have grown much beyond the sub-200 staff mark and their studio and projects can't be cheap to run. If the resources are distributed then perhaps we can get a more consistent product + the best car models + more focus on physics and making the game more fun.

But as for GT6, it looks like an amazing game and will surely exceed GT5 as the best (IMO) driving game available.
Polyphony doesn't do ports, so the code base won't be the same. That means the next version should be a while, regardless of rumours.
Maybe in the past but it would be difficult to imagine Sony's Japanese studios not changing their old practices, that's provided it benefits them.

Posted:8 months ago

#11

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
@Adam: I'd gather they're going to stick to their guns (at least for GT7's car models). I'd imagine that by the time the game comes out, critics and fans will be a LOT more picky about some of the smaller to medium issues with the current game and "old" cars or too many reused assets will be a sticking point. Especially when the Forza comparisons come up...

We'll see, however. I perfer a longer wait and a more improved experience anyway...

Posted:8 months ago

#12

Donald Dalley
Freelance writer

50 31 0.6
I doubt PD will start outsourcing. Uh uh. Not their style. You don't see other company listed in the opening credits, just PD''s.

GT6 assets were developed with the purpose of migrating them to the PS4 version, too, so wait and see how they go about GT7. That doesn't mean it will be a port, however.

Posted:8 months ago

#13

Lindsay Cox
Unity Developer

28 48 1.7
@Greg Yes another Omega Boost! That game was so hard and had an awesome opening intro cinematic!

Posted:8 months ago

#14

Benjamin Kratsch
Freelance Journalist

17 5 0.3
Sony can say thank you to the campaign of some press outlets with this "150 euro for a car"-headline.
It's one car and it's a Le Mans Prototype. All the other cars are reasonably priced. In case someone wants to buy a BMW Z3 GTI for example, it's 50 cent.

This whole "I just want the click and don't care about the truth of my content" bullshit needs to stop in 2014.

Posted:8 months ago

#15

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
@Lindsay: Oh, I have a surprise in store from 1996 coming on my site in a few weeks if you're an Omega Boost fan...

Posted:8 months ago

#16

Caleb Hale
Journalist

154 229 1.5
Forza Motorsport 4 overtook Gran Turismo 5 as my preferred racing sim a couple years ago, mainly because Forza seemed to have a more cohesive and consistent experience. Though not as robust as Gran Turismo 5, Forza 4 seemed to hit the sweet spot for me, a feat that hasn't exactly been matched in playing Forza 5.

Posted:8 months ago

#17

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