Apr 272011
Authors: Ian Hopkins

The “Gran Turismo” and “Forza Motorsport” video game series have been racing against each other for years to be crowned the best racing simulator game. Since late 2009, “Forza Motorsport 3” had been the racing game champion, but now “Gran Turismo 5” (“GT5”) has stolen the crown and won’t give away the title anytime soon. “GT5” is the Mario Andretti of racing simulators with its picture-perfect graphics and car renderings, completely customizable controls and a limitless number of different ways to race.

Racing locations go all around the world and range in variety. Players can race the grueling Nürburgring in Germany, the famous Top-Gear Test Track in England, go-kart tracks and user-created racetracks. Racing all over the world is impressive, but the addition of mid-race time changes from day to night, night racing and snow and dirt track racing make “GT5” the complete racing simulator. The physics of each track style handle exactly as they would in the real world.

All of the racing locations were brought to life with perfect photorealism, but the cars that race on the tracks look even better. There were times I was racing through tracks or watching my replays that I completely forgot I was playing a game and not watching a racing TV show.       

Every car in “Gran Turismo 5” was designed from the ground up to perfectly simulate its real-world counterpart in every way from engine sounds to the visual details, all the way down to the hubcaps and the cars handling.

Gear heads will be at home in “Gran Turismo 5” because almost every aspect of every car is adjustable. It is as close to owning all 1,031 cars as most of us will ever come, and it is a fantastic substitute. To be clear, every car in “GT5” is not an Aston Martin or Bugatti Veyron –– there are cars like the Fiat 500 from the early 1960s and an early 1990s Honda Civic to race with, as well.

The near limitless selection of cars is a nice complement to the complete customizability in controller setup. Every controller button can be rearranged to fit each individual player’s race style, and every part of a car can be used with the click of a button. Even the high beams and windshield wipers can be used and –– depending on the track –– you will need them both.

I only have two complaints with “Gran Turismo 5.” I wish it did a better job telling me which cars I could use in each race series.

The menu system of the game is not entirely clear. I also miss “Forza Motorsport 3’s” feature that allows the player to go back in time a few seconds to retry mistakes made in the game.

Beware though: “Gran Turismo 5” is a racing simulator. It is not a game for everybody and requires a great deal of finesse. This is not your “Need for Speed” or “Mario Kart.” If you’ve never played a racing simulator, try one before you buy one.

Video game reviewer Ian Hopkins can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm

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