The Good: A lot of content for a large demo, super realistic, some great improvements
The Bad: Some bad improvements, lots of stuck stripped, some times it's just too real
When you think of racing games most older gamers will think of Gran Turismo: Graphics that push the current generation to it's limit, ultra realistic physics, and cars that drive like their real life counter parts to a T. Just when we thought racing couldn't get any better than Gran Turismo 4 for the PS2 back in 2005 Gran Turismo 5 rolls along on the PS3.
As the title suggests this is just a preview, or an over glorified demo, of that is to come in the full game coming out this year. While the game was released almost 2 years ago it still looks amazing today and the realism is so close to real life you can taste it. Everything you know about Gran Turismo has had a face lift and this includes the menu. Instead of all those icons on a map you are treated to your car being displayed in different countries in the background along with an even calendar and some new icons. The first thing you will notice is the fully fledged online play with up to 12 players. Second is the GT TV which lets you purchase episodes of car shows for the die hard car fanatics (I completely skipped this), but it's there. You have your regular events and single races instead of the standard simulation and arcade modes. You can go to the dealerships and pick your cars and jump into the events.
Some problems do pop up right form the start when buying a car since there are frequent loading screens between screens and the car info isn't displayed right. It scrolls across the bottom and you can only view the car if you click on it and have it load. There is no full detail spec sheet mainly due to the fact that you can't upgrade your cars. Yeah guys sorry. In the "demo" version of Gran Turismo 5 you just buy your cars and race as is. I have no idea is Polyphony is completely stripping this idea since it is also missing in the PSP Gran Turismo as well.
Once you buy your car (there are about 80 or so cars if you get the free Spec III update) you can go into your garage and sell cars from here as well as viewing them. Gone is the whole car wash thing, for now, but some sort of virtual tour of the car would have been nice as well as being able to use all the items in the car (c'mon you want ultra realism right?) Once you get into the event menu you can see the requirements for entering and these are limited to certain types of cars. Once you start racing you should get third or better to earn credits to buy more cars, rinse and ad infinitum. While this sounds dull each car handles surprisingly different and the AI s a real nice challenge. However, the usual time limits are set WAY to tight and is almost impossible to beat even when driving with the guide line and not crashing.
When you actually start driving you'll notice just how tight the controls are. You really like your turning a wheel thanks to the great analog stick of the DualShock 3 and the great vibration feature. Every car also sounds the same and the amazing in dash cockpit view (the first time in Gran Turismo) is beautiful, but I just wish you could turn the driver's head around. There aren't too many tracks to drive on, but there are a lot of familiar ones all the way back to the first game 12 years ago.
If you want to talk about aesthetics the game looks stunningly real. You can't really tell the car apart from something i real life and the tracks all look amazing, but I know i can look better and I hope the graphics engine i boosted a little for the final release.
While there are many flaws, and things missing, such as the driving tests, upgrades; there are a lot of things not improved like the super strict time limits, plus some times the game just is too real to be fun. Other than that for about $25 you can really have a good racer that will last you awhile or if you are a die hard Gran Turismo fan this will tide you over until the final release.