Most of us have at one time or another witnessed a superstar who obviously did not realise that his time in the limelight was over several years ago, and that his recent performances could be mistaken for poor copies of the stuff he was once famous for.
Few manage to quit while at the top of their game. Or reinvent themselves into something new and equally great. That's when the calls for retirement grow louder and louder.
With so many virtual miles spent together, memories of several console generations and dozens of worn-out controllers and lots of good experiences when the series was still the king of the genre, it's almost hurtful to realise that the Gran Turismo series can no longer keep up with the competition.
Back in 2010 when Gran Turismo 5 was released, I had trouble understanding Polyphony Digital's reluctance to take inspiration from its competitors in order to move with the times. In GT6 it appears, at first, as if they have listened to the criticism. The game is quick to put you in a race so that it supposedly can learn what type of driver you are.
To my surprise I noted that it was not as violent a start to racing as with the Fiat 500 Abarth in Forza Motorsport 4, but rather something much more family friendly. Aboard my Honda Fit RS 10 family sled, I was asked to win races and earn enough to buy something better... and that takes time in a car as nippy as a brick.
With the first gold cups placed on the mantelpiece and cold hard cash in an account, you get the opportunity to progress to a new and more challenging class. As you know from the series already, that means first paying a visit to the DVLA to prove you have the skills to proceed.
Licences were fun back on PSOne, but have absolutely no right being in a modern title when the rest of the genre gives you the right to do whatever you want with your time. Even stupider is the fact that the lessons you have to learn to earn the licence are covering things you couldn't help but learn in all the previous races you've won to earn the opportunity to win a licence and advance.
Hunting licences will also let you experience a repeat of a problem that fans of the series has asked the developer to correct for years. Instead of letting you jump from race to race through the revolutionary "Next Race" button like so many games today you're forced to go back to menus in between each race simply to select the next race. Quite a chore. That may sound like a small deficiency, and could potentially have been, if it not that so many other elements reinforce it.
I still point out Gran Turismo 5 as having one of the most cluttered and unfriendly menu systems I've ever seen in a game. Fortunately, they have been cleared up a bit.
The new system now guides the player roughly in the right direction - with fine descriptions to detail the next race, workshop or a trip to the garage. It cannot be labelled minimalistic, as the next step possibilities fill nearly half the screen. Nevertheless, the failings occur when you have to drive through a huge number of sub-menus, button presses and loading times just to arrive at a race.
A normal race will take between thirty seconds and one and a half minutes to load, and will also send you through five different menus (and five button presses), then ask you to press the controller nine times when the race finishes before you can surface at the start menu. The time spent outside of racing is enormous as frustration grows.
I could have ignored all of this if GT6 brought the series back to pole position in the genre it once so easily dominated thanks to it's driving.
With a truly huge number of cars there's something here for everyone. Whether you're here for GT race cars, super cars, SUVs, karting - you will likely be able to find something to suit your interests. That the tracks include Silverstone, Fuji Speedway, Suzuka, Nurburgring and even beautiful urban networks, suggest a lot of virtual asphalt to realise your dreams of motorsport.
When Kazunori Yamauchi finally opened up about Gran Turismo 6, one of the first things he mentioned was that the new title would include a brand new physics system, with far greater precision that'd better interpret horse-power battles with asphalt. That system seemingly never materialises, and we again have to settle with heavy vehicles, regardless of their described weight, handling like they're filled with cement.
The experience is made all the more frustrating by the fact that the game seems, at times, to abandon the rules of physics. Braking suddenly or colliding rewards you with the unexpected response of your car attempting a deranged techno dance as the car's front rapidly jumps from side to side. It looks strange, has nothing to do with reality, and makes the whole experience completely unpredictable.
Improvements are insanely well-hidden behind the game's automatic help systems which are enabled by default. If you want something that's remotely reminiscent of reality, you should start by turning the game traction control off completely and then gradually do the same with all the other options that make for such an underwhelming experience from the start.
It probably aounds a bit elitist, but unlike several of its competitors such choices are simply necessity in GT6 because the game, by default, is set up completely wrong and offers a sterile driving experience. If you don't tweak, you can use the tracks like a pinball machine without penalty, and gain faster lap times than would be possible if you followed the planned route. No matter what you're driving on - asphalt, gravel or snow - you'll feel no difference in the traction. It's crazy.
No matter what options you turn on or off, it'll do nothing about the opposition you encounter, unless you go online. The AI is simply some of the worst I've seen in the genre.
When the series originally took its first tentative drive on PSOne, the technology excused why opponents followed fixed routes on the tracks. Why is it the same fifteen years later? Overtaking does not require any tactics at all.
It amazes me that GT6 fails to address so many of the franchise's problems, filling the game with more content rather than fixing the more basic problems. It's as if the developers have no wish to be inspired by advancements in the rest of the genre.
Why is there still no system that recommends me a car for each race? Why is there not a more efficient way to trawl through the car database? Why can I still do not get the game to offer a car optimisation for upcoming races? Why does it feel as if all the cars are surrounded by force shields with rubber-like elasticity? And why oh why is it not possible for me to downgrade my cars again, taking off some of the bought tuning parts? Instead I am faced with a situation where I am forced to buy a new car every time I make the mistake of over-tuning one of my previous purchases and making it unsuitable for the next race.
Gran Turismo 5 raised the question as to whether the series was leading the racing genre anymore. Gran Turismo 6 offers a definite answer. Gran Turismo is no longer the superstar it once was. The world is a different place today, and so is the racing genre.
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