Let me state the obvious: I have a passion for cars. And like the zillion other car buffs (and gamers), I’ve been impatiently waiting for the GT5 to be released. I do not consider myself a gamer; probably never will be. But I enjoy (casually) playing Gran Turismo because it’s the only racing game with a realistic simulator feel. I get to virtually drive hundreds of cars, be it new, classic, rare, exotic or expensive; cars that I will never get a chance to own in my lifetime.
I’ve been following the news on GT5, and the folks from Polyphony had been crying “wolf!” for several times, announcing launch dates only to postpone them. Whether it’s a deliberate marketing ploy to whet gamer appetite or an honest failure to beat deadlines, I do not know. The real and final launch date was Nov. 24, and without any real effort I tried calling up Data Blitz at Powerplant Mall at 5:30pm to check if they already had the game in stock. I was not too optimistic, as I heard a lot had already pre-ordered. But much to my surprise and delight, they had extra copies. Long story short: by 7pm, a copy of the Collector’s Edition was in the palm of my hands.
I could’ve waited for the next day to pick it up, but I braved the rush hour + holiday season traffic jam, just to get it by Nov. 24th. “I wanted to have this at its historical launch date. I wanted to be first,” I thought. It was then it occured to me: damn I’ve unconsciously become a GT5 fanboy.
Why did I get the Collector’s Ed? Data Blitz did not have the standard edition yet. Or maybe they do, but were hoarding it to push the more expensive versions to, er, drooling fan boys. At Php3995 ($91) it’s a bit more expensive than the standard (game only) pack, but the Collector’s Ed is definitely well worth it because of its extra goodies (see unboxing pics below).
1. New for GT5. The extra game contents (not found in previous GT releases) delighted me. Options like giving your car an oil change or car wash are cute little additions, sort of like giving “your cars” a Tamagotchi treatment. The special races will take away the inevitable boredom of racing in the same old track. There are a thousand cars to choose from and dozens of tracks which I’ve yet to unlock–these guarantee that it would take forever before I get tired of the game. I also like the fact that I could plug in my own race music. The photo feature is probably the highlight and the most impressive of the GT5 extras. It allows you to take pictures of your car amidst scenic backgrounds with a camera that had DSLR-like capabilities, all virtually of course. Polyphony folks have noticed that gamers and car lovers are also into photography. In short, they have geeks as their target market.
2. Game play. If you’ve tried GT5 Prologue, then this full version is more of the same. In fact, in terms of game play, GT5 has just carried over the Gran Turismo tradition. If you’re a GT fan, expect no surprises. Gran Turismo 5 is for the love of driving and racing, nothing more and nothing less. If that bores you, then you’re not a hard core car buff.
3. Graphics. This is one aspect of the game that (mildly) disappoints, and you can find similar comments elsewhere in the web. Shadows and other elements appear pixelized and some race tracks lack detail. Furthermore, round objects such as wheels, headlights and steering wheels look like polygons. It’s disturbing to note that in this aspect the Prologue seems to be better than the full version! What’s more, some cars do not even have a dashboard view. Somehow all of this gives me a feeling that the game is incomplete, or hurriedly finished. If I can theorize, graphics is probably the main cause why GT5 has been delayed. Eventually the game was launched even if it isn’t fully “baked to perfection,” simply because it just couldn’t be delayed any further. I’m hoping that software updates will refine and polish. On a positive note, cars now show damage albeit very minimal (I remember Yamauchi saying that the game shouldn’t take away the perfect beauty and form of the cars featured).
Overall, I’m one happy camper for Gran Turismo 5. For me it is still the best car and driving game out there, par none. It isn’t perfect–mainly due to graphics–but I deem it forgivable and easily overshadowed by all the other great aspects of the game. I consider GT5 as an epic endeavor and an epic success as it is. My verdict: If you’re a car nut like me, go and get a copy of this piece of automotive history. Until the graphics improvement updates arrive (unfounded and pure wishful thinking) try not to pixel peep and just enjoy the ride.
So what does the Collector’s Edition include? Some eye candy for ya…