Now, I am aware that what I am about to say is controversial, even if it is the truth. Lets just say I don’t intend to spend the next few hundred words complaining about the game just to give it 9 out of 10 as many other (terrible) reviewers have done.
I am also aware that there will be a lot of Sony and GT fanboys who will object to this content. They will no doubt want to rage and write offensive, stupid nonsense as they did on reviews like Justin’s from GamesRadar. I probably can’t stop you, but just don’t. No one is interested in your opinions and I fully understand that you may not be interested in mine. If so, here’s the door: [Google]. Otherwise, read on.
If you are a GT fan you probably already own the game (and if you have any sense will have traded it in a few days later!). But for those of you who are on the fence, or haven’t bought it yet because of other reviews, please read on.
You would think that a game that has been in development for nearly six years and which had basically had an extended beta that people paid to be part of (in the form of GT5 prologue) would at least complete, finished and polished. Or you would think that it would at least be functional. But you’d be wrong…
Why this review is different
This review is slightly different from my normal format. I have decided not to talk about the various features as usual, but instead to focus on my first few hours of gameplay. I quite liked GT4 and played it a lot, so I wanted to like this game. I also wanted to play it enough to at least be able to write a decent review. GT5 had other plans however…
I had heard that GT5 was a huge game and that it was recommended that it be installed on the hard drive to improve performance. So I did this, thinking it would take less than 10 minutes like it would on the Xbox. I was wrong! I could tell that it was going to take a while, so I wandered off. I watched an episode of Supernatural. I returned over 40 minutes later to find that it was finally in the 90% area.
Then my PS3 restarted and into the game I went. Ha! Had you going for a second there. Then I had to install a patch! It was about 8pm by this stage, so the network was fairly busy, but this still took a fairly long time….
Then there was the second patch…
Finally, the game launched and I could see the home menu. It took ages to load and featured a badly modelled and poorly animated 3D car engine playing in the background. But then, shockingly, I tried to interact with the game. Nothing. Now, I have noticed this happening with alarming regularity on the PS3, but this was taking the piss. There was no sign of loading or anything, no pop up or animation… for all I know it could have crashed. A minute-or-so later I was reaching for the power button when I was finally able to move the cursor… with no visual or audio cue that it was finally ready to accept my commands. Suffice to say this did not create a good first impression!
I was then greeted by a little info box, featuring the wonderful design decision of dark grey text on an only-slightly-lighter grey background, in a font so small that an ant crawling on the screen would have trouble reading it. The terrible design decisions were mounting up!
I was then asked to pick a colour scheme for my driver. Not only were there only a few presets, not of which I really wanted to use, but the game told me that it could not be changed at a later date! This is just craziness, how hard would it have been to allow you to customise it properly, and why on earth can’t you tweak it later…. This just doesn’t make sense.
Then I had to pick my first car. Standard GT Formula here, you have 10 grand to buy it and no easy way of getting to a list of the cars you are actually able to buy. You could visit the second hand dealer, but predictably the interface is terrible. The other option is to buy a cheap new car. Now, since you’re only level 0 and only have ten grand to by a level 0 car, you would think that there would be a way to filter the car list to the ones that are available and affordable. But this is GT5, where common sense, it seems, doesn’t seem to apply.
To buy a car you have to go to the manufacturers screen, then you have to visit each manufacturer and go through a process of “does this one have any level zero cars? no”, “does this one? yes, but it costs to much”, “this one? no”, “this one? yes, but its fiat” until you finally go to either Toyota or Nissan and pick one of the only two sensible choices!
Finally, I’m in an car on a race track. 3..2..1.. the countdown went, then Go! … and I didn’t move. ‘WTF?’ I thought. I fumbled with the controller, only to discover that the control scheme was set to [X] for accelerate and square to break, a control system that hasn’t been used for about 400 years. ‘There must be a way to change this’, I thought, so I went to find it. Then I had the joy of navigating the damned options menu. The options menu is by far the most obtuse and badly designed menu so far. To add to the atrocious menu layout in other areas of the game, the options menu aren’t even consistent in their bad design. It took a long time to work out that there was actually more that one page to the options menu, and when I finally found the right screen, I then had to go through the laborious process of manually configuring each button on the damned controller one-by-one.
Finally, everything was set up and I was ready to do some racing. But then I found that I was driving a bland, unimpressive looking car around a series of bland, unimpressive looking tracks. Driving through the Sunday cup looked and felt almost exactly the same as it had in GT4. The smoke, tyre and spark effects were terrible and, as if the poor visuals weren’t enough, there was absolutely no sign of damage from impacting another car, not even a satisfying rumble or sound effect.
After enduring the Sunday cup, I then expected something else to become available, but it didn’t… nothing new became available, so the game was already expecting me to repeat an event! ‘Bugger that!’ I thought… and thus ended my GT5 experience. You may well, justifiably, mock my and my journalistic integrity (or lack there of), but I just couldn’t take it any more…
I am aware that certain issues with the game have been patched since launched and that new content has been added, but after just a couple of nights with this game I had had enough. While these patches might fix things that are genuine bugs, most of the things that I hated about this game were actually terrible design decision and poor implementation that seem to have been chosen consciously.
What else is there to say? Nothing really. Except that this was the last PS3 exclusive game that I wanted to try, and, like all the others, I found it disappointing. The game (and its menus in particular) is clumsy, slow and ugly and after just a few hours my resolve finally snapped and the PS3 went back into its box for the last time.
So, in summary, GT5 was so bad it made me trade in my Playstation.
RECOMMENDATION: Don’t Bother!