Friday, August 21, 2009

Gran Turismo Games are Not Good

There are a lot of solid things about Sony's Gran Turismo games. The graphics are some of the best in the industry, there is a ton of attention to detail in the tracks and cars, and the physics model is great in most ways. But Gran Turismo games still suck, and here's why:

  1. GT games are not really racing games! That's right, they don't actually challenge you to race. Turismo games are very open ended, feature hundreds of cars, and a nearly infinite number of tweaks to those cars. This can be fun for gear heads, but it causes the game to lose focus when it comes to actual racing. In almost any given race, it is quicker and easier to win by purchasing a better car, or upgrading the one you have rather than actually learning the track. For example, last year's game "GRID" by Codemasters was far more focused. There plenty of cars, and a good number of tracks, but each race required a very specific car, so the programmers were able to balance the challenge. Say what you will about GRID, but to me it is a stronger actual racing game than any Gran Turismo game.

  2. GT games have huge gaps in their physics models that let you, or should I say, nearly force you to cheat. Try hitting a wall, or another car in a GT game. Nothing happens... you don't slow down much, you don't take damage, and you almost never spin out. When I'm coming up to a big turn with a car in front of me... why would I break? Of course I won't break... I will use all my speed to blast into the center of the turn and hit the other car to help keep me on the track... and I'll gain 3 seconds on the other cars. I've found small 2nd gear turns in GT 4 that allow me to blast right over the curb and grass at 120 mph skipping the turn completely, never causing me to crash or take any damage. This isn't just a small oversight... when it comes to a racing sim... this breaks the entire game.

  3. GT games lack focus in other ways as well. They feature a rally racing, grand prix, and will soon have F1 cars. I can only imagine how well they could actually nail GT racing if they actually spent their time making that part of the game better. People who want rally and F1 games buy the rally and F1 games. People buy Gran Turismo because they want to whip around a course in a 700bhp Nissan Skyline. I wish the developers would remember that.

  4. Because of the lack of focus on racing (point #1) these games become a grind. And I mean a real grind... as in "grinding" in Japanese role playing games. These games aren't about learning to race well. They are about being completely OCD and getting every car, or at least all the good ones, and making them as fast as possible. Sure, you can sink hundreds of hours into any GT game, but how much actual fun and challenge are you likely to have? How much time are you going to end up spending on a joyless grind for more cars, and more money?

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