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It’s lonely at the top for Gran Turismo 5

by William Schwartz

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It has become common place for competitors to defile another competitors product on the open mic these days in the video game world.  Even more so when you are the leader in your field.  Just like Medal of Honor took a few jabs at the Call of Duty juggernaut, many big name racing game developers are trying to strike out at the number one racing game in the world: Gran Turismo 5.    Leading up to the release,Electronic Arts and Codemasters took their turns at taking a jab at the champ.

“I think they have a very sterile, almost car collecting type of product where that’s mainly what we do and I think we can offer something different,” said Patrick Soderlund of Electronic Arts in regards to Need For Speed Shift 2.

Anyone that has played any of the various incarnations of the Need For Speed titles can attest to the pure arcade stylings of the franchise.  It’s no secret that other developers want to create a game that plays and looks like Gran Turismo and more importantly, sells like Gran Turismo.  But these other developers don’t take the amount of time and resources that are necessary to accomplish this: $60 million dollars and the wherewithal to cater to the player that made their game popular in the first place. This cold, sterile, and calculated racer, Gran Turismo 5, is exactly what it set out to be and probably more.  Gran Turismo 5 and Polyphony Digital are a testament to the gaming community, and should be admired for their ability to not just swoop in for the cash grab like Need For Speed and other franchise which do so on a yearly basis.  Personally, there have been so many incarnations of the racer that at this point I’m afraid to buy a Need For Speed title.  You never know what you’re gonna get.  It could be great, like Hot Pursuit, or it could be a bag of shit…One can never tell.

Another of the competitors that felt it necessary to tell us how great their unpopular game was, Codemasters, had this to say:

“GT5 is going to be a phenomenal product, with the time and investment Sony have made in it,” he said. “You can have a technically phenomenal game, but you can also have a game concept that doesn’t really appeal [to some racing fans] and could be accused of – and you have to be careful how you write this – of being boring.

“We don’t have that problem. We feel the adrenaline rush that we’ll always provide in F1 will not be matched by anyone else. You’re going to have all the cars, all the tracks and all the worldwide locations – not to mention the best strategy, and the best damage, as far as we can. If you’re an F1 fan, you don’t need to go anywhere else for that.”

That concept that Cousens alludes to, the concept of actually racing, yes apparently that’s a hard one to nail down for some. But the appeal of good racing, never dies for fans of racing games and Polyphony is the best of breed in this department.  Sure you can include all the fluff and fillers that you want, painting cars, auction houses, time trials, leader boards,  in some games this can enhance an otherwise lackluster experience.   When all is said and done, the majority of your time in a racing game should be spent behind the wheel.  Sadly, for the more casual racing game fan things like painting giant obscenities on your vehicle is a complete deal breaker if it’s not included. But I digress.  Behind the wheel is where you judge a racing game, and comparing Gran Turismo to F1 2010 is a bit of stretch don’t you think?

All in all it’s lonely at the top for Gran Turismo 5.  But what did you expect, with all the delays you gave the fanboys, critics, and the competitors all the ammunition that they would ever need.  As a gamer,  and a newly licensed driver in the GT universe, I have never played a racing game whose actual racing is as authentic, well crafted, and heart pumping as Gran Turismo 5.  I for one am glad that the resources and time were spent in such a way that makes “The Real Driving Simulator” not just a marketing tactic on the box art, but a reality.

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