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Not all game reviewers are nuts: Gran Turismo 5 December 3, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me.
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I know, I know, I haven’t written nearly enough as I should. So here it goes, a short one.

I was never much of a simulation racing fan. Up till last month, my favorite racing game series was Rockstar’s Midnight Club. I just love driving like a maniac and dealing with heavy traffic, preferably on the wrong side of the road.

Interestingly enough, the other day I tried Forza III and was completely hooked. I don’t know what it was, but all of a sudden the intricates of simulation racing started appealing to me. Needless to say when I found out Gran Turismo  5 was about to be released, I got pretty excited. I bought my copy at launch and well… I was very disappointed. Navigating through the GT5 interface is nothing less than a nightmare. So much that on my first night with the game I got to the track after about 40 minutes struggling with the menus and the tedious (ok, tedious is an understatement, I should say disgustingly boring) background music and my experience even on the track was sub par. The driving felt less realistic than Forza’s. With such a horrendous menu system and a so so simulation, I was very tempted to resell the game on the very next day.

But, as you know, I’m a gamer and I was sure there had to be something there under the hood (pun intended) that gathered so many fans around the franchise. So I stuck with it and forced myself to play it again the next day. And the next. And guess what? Now I absolutely love the game.

What changed? I learned how to navigate the horrible interface, got rid of the background music in the menus and replaced the race BGM by my own playlist, straight from the PS3 library. I also figured out how to change the driving options and disabled a plethora of assists that were stopping me from having a true simulation experience. With all that and mostly driving premium cars (if you haven’t heard already, only 200 of the 1000+ cars in the game received premium treatment, the others are way less detailed), getting to the tracks behind the wheel (or the controller until my Logitech Driving Force GT arrives) is an amazing experience. Good enough to make me gladly endure the menus.

That is not to say I would give the game a 10/10 grade. As much as I love the game now, it is peppered with flaws and inconsistencies that still diminish the experience and were mentioned to exhaustion in every review. And more than that, a game which requires tremendous patience and configuration just to get behind the wheel with the desired settings simply cannot get a 10. This is a game, people, not an anger management test.

IGN put it perfectly, a 10/10 driving experience in a 5/10 game. But in the end, it gave it a questionable 8.5. So the Sane Reviewer Award of the blog goes to Giant Bomb. With a 3/5 overall grade, it expresses exactly how the game is. In a nutshell: if you love simulation racing games and are willing to ignore everything else, run to the closest store and get your copy, it is absolutely worth it. Trust me, I know, that’s my category too. But if you just want to have a fun car game, you are better off with other options (and if you are a 360 owner, I highly recommend Forza Motorsport III).

See you space cowboys…

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