Gran Turismo 5 makes me unhappy

Yes, I bought the game. In the store. People who know me know how rarely I play games, let alone buy one. But seeing as I was staying at my friend's place and he owns a PS3, I thought I might as well use the opportunity to play some Gran Turismo.

That was not a good idea. I have seldom encountered a game that makes me this unhappy. The most disappointing bit of the game is: everything. Everything's the bloody same as GT4. The same sounds effects, the same structure, the same cars, the same physics. Yes, there are new cars, but the game makes you play with the old ones about 90% of the time. Yes, the physics improved (a lot, even) compared to GT4, but it's still so completely different from every other racing game and simulator that it's still closer to GT4 than anything else. It still feels like shit.

I do like some parts of the game. After all, there's so many cars and so many tracks to choose from that there's bound to be something I like. I quite like driving around the Nordschleife in a Ferrari 430, just like I used to do in netKar back in the day. NetKar had way crappier graphics, no opponents and the track model was terrible. But I enjoyed that more than GT5.

GT5 just doesn't feel real. It doesn't even try to feel real, especially once you get to racing the really fast cars. It just loses all connection with reality, and it's not enjoyable as a game either. I expect a fast car to handle like a car, not like a fucking brick with a spoiler. The car either turns mega-abruptly and then magically straightens out or it doesn't turn at all and you crash. I've never driven a really fast car before, but I've played plenty of racing games and sims, and they're all quite similar to each other, and quite different from the GT series.

The controls don't help either. There's no way you can adequately control the throttle levels with a PS3 controller. This is a bit awkward, as the game's physics really don't make me feel like driving it with a steering wheel, yet driving it with a controller is nigh-on impossible. I ended up turning on some driving aids which made driving the really fast cars slightly more tolerable, but still very far away from being fun.

And then there's all the stupid trials and licenses and events the game makes you do. Do I really have to do a Nascar event for 5 fucking times to complete game? I don't care about Nascar. I quite liked the go-karting events though, because they are so far away from driving a real go-kart that it becomes fun again. Over the top and down the mountain.

I should also give a special honorable mention to the Top Gear challenges. I love watching Top Gear, it's an awesome show. So why are the Top Gear challenges in-game some of the most boring, tedious and stupid races in the entire game? Each and every one of those races is like GT5 attempting to parody itself. They're complete uninteresting and feel like a complete waste of time.

I haven't mentioned the technical quality yet. I complained before about having to wait ages to  download hundreds of megabytes of updates, and then having to wait even longer for the damn game to install itself to the hard drive. And for what? After you install it it's still crappy ass slow. Loading races takes ages. Hell, even loading menus takes ages. Why?!?! How shit of a programmer do you have to be to make a menu load slowly? If mobile phone apps can do it then so can the PS3, dammit. And why do I have to register for the fucking playstation network in order to access stupid online events that could just as well have been offline events because you play them offline against AI opponents... It took them years to make this game yet they never fixed the menu layout and the general game flow. This game is as out-of-time as Duke Nukem Forever. Shame.

I would not recommend this game to anyone. People who like arcade racing games will have a lot more fun with the Need for Speed series or whatever the Xbox has these days. Racing sim fanatics will of course stick to the PC, which has a great range of sims in netKar Pro, LFS and rFactor, and lots of other sims too that are quite excellent. I honestly can't think of any reason for people to play GT5, unless you like torturing yourself. Do yourself a favor and put it in the microwave.

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