Gran Turismo 5 has come in for much criticism regarding the amount of time and effort it takes to finish. To achieve 100% completion and a coveted Platinum PlayStation trophy, players must win every single race and time trial in the game, own a thousand cars, take a picture of a building and achieve the nigh-impossible task of winning a race by just one hundredth of a second.
To be fair, none of that sounds like very much fun, especially considering to unlock some of the later endurance races, such as the Nürburgring 24-hour, you have to do the preceding endurance races over and over again. When one of those races is the Le Mans 24-hour race you can begin to see why people are complaining they can never finish the game. And fair enough – they have lives, families and other games to fill their time with.
But those fixated by finishing the game are missing the point.
Gran Turismo’s creator Kazunori Yamauchi has spoken previously about how he and the GT series is inspired by the concept of ‘mimesis’ – the pursuit of natural perfection through imitation. At the 2011 ‘DICE’ summit, Yamauchi said “The Gran Turismo franchise is something closer to a movement and not a game… The thing about a movement is that it is a challenge of the impossible that’s destined to fail. But we have to keep facing up to that challenge.”
And I argue the game should be played with this in mind. Gran Turismo is trying to be more than just a game – one to be played just to achieve the satisfaction of completion. And many elements of how the game is being received already reflect this.
The online community is thriving – players are buying, customising and tuning their cars for competition and time trials against each other. Some servers are open purely just for trading – users join a game with a car they want to trade, drive it about a bit and then get offers from other members of the GT5 community as to what they’ll swap it for.
People are also sharing pictures of their favourite cars on Facebook and Twitter, sending cars to friends as gifts and creating original circuits to play with mates – so friends can share in a quite unique sense of ‘community’ in a racing game for the first time on a console. Sure, Forza might have done some things the same and others a bit better (I’d love a livery editor), but for PlayStation owners this is new – and with so many different cars and tracks to play with, the potential combinations for fun are huge.
“It would make me happy to see a videogame that really makes you think about how a person should live and how they should come to terms with death.” – Kazunori Yamauchi
Drifting clans have emerged, each with their own preferred styles, arguing with each other on forums about whether rear-wheel drive or four wheel-drive drifting is best. Others are sharing set-ups for their favourite cars and favourite circuits, and the GT Academy competition is returning for a third time 2011 – giving talented virtual racers to put their money where their mouth is and win the chance to compete in real-life motorsport.
And in what other game can you actually do the Le Mans 24 hour race, in real-time? Other than this one, obviously. And this one. And this one. Ok, not the best point but you know what I mean – the level of authenticity in the game is mind-boggling and any racers released from this point on will be judged against this new benchmark.
Put simply, it may be a lofty ambition to create ‘more than a game’ and not all of GT5 may be perfect, but Polyphony Digital have quietly redefined the console racing genre, bringing a new experience to the masses for the first time – and I argue that, despite its flaws, GT5 is still brilliant. Like a fine wine the game is getting better with time, and I can see it being the only disc spinning in my PS3 for a long time to come.
So whilst I’m in the revolutionary spirit, here are a few of my favourite cars from my own game for your visual arousal. Hope you enjoy, and see you online!