My interest in racing sims has always been confined to the arcade game. It was Burnout or Need for Speed where things like cornering or braking are not restricted to the laws of physics. I always saw series like Forza or Gran Turismo as being too realistic and taking the fun out of racing games. I played the original on PS1 and think I may have played GT3 and GT4 on the PlayStation 2 but this is the first time that I picked it up on the PS3 and I can’t remember what put it in my head but the truth is I’m glad I did.
My fear was driving a car that didn’t turn when you wanted to it and was completely unforgiving with speed if you went into a corner too fast and that was it, you were lodged in the fence and any hope of making a top three finish was out of the window!
This entry however seems to have captured my interest for an unknown reason and the focus now is on minding tyres, watching the racing line, keeping the steering and braking steady and of course putting the foot down on a long straight. After nearly 12 hours of an install (Sweet Jesus it’s a miracle I even stuck with it!!) I dived right into career mode with the Novice and National B License categories. The licenses are a series of six driving challenges to unlock the respective racing events from Novice to Super and a Special Red Bull Racing section. I’m on International A at the moment and can see the difficulty rising in tandem with the speed and there is a constant, just niggling, urge to put the foot down and throw the cars around the bends ad put the foot down whenever you can. This is not the way to do it in these games however, a delayed braking or mistimed sharp turn will send your car into the wall or into a spin that will cost you dearly. I have managed to roll a Nissan GTR as well but no entirely sure how.
For negatives, they are few and far between and the usual suspects are here, massive initial load and install times (I had to download 22 updates and install the game taking up to 12 hours approximately). There is a PS Store section where real life money can become in-game credits to buy and upgrade cars. My feelings on these micro-transaction are common and should be stopped ab initio. However, they are tucked away in a sub-menu and you are not prompted to buy credits but you can cheat if you want to. The more time consuming but ultimately rewarding option is the Daily Login Bonus which means that if you log in to PSN every day you will gain a percentage increase in the prize money awarded up to 200% for five days.
I don’t have any particular gripe that makes the game unplayable but the soundtrack is nothing special but you do have the option to use a custom soundtrack. Also, the interiors of some cars are marked as “Simplified” which is code for we couldn’t be bothered modelling the inside of all the cars and comes across as laziness on the part of the developers. This too can be levied against the sound of the cars themselves which sound a bit flat and you struggle to hear the roar of an engine as you put the foot down and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between what cars you are driving from the sound. You should easily be able to tell the difference between an Aston Martin or Ferrari engine but at times it sounds, to me at least, like a generic racing car sound which is disappointing for the “Real Driving Simulator”.
Verdict: A fantastic entry for somebody either new to the genre or looking for a break from the nonsensical arcade style racers and grounding you in simulation but accessible racing but watch the speed into corners though or it is game over! If you haven’t played it then I would recommend buying it and enjoy driving beautiful cars around fantastic scenery. Shame about the music and car sounds which keeps it from being more fun but is still enjoyable and you should buy it!