Growing Up Gran Turismo – Part Six

Gran Turismo 5 was a real litmus test for the franchise. Its release was delayed, delayed and delayed some more. When it finally hit shelves in November of 2010, it had been nearly six years since the last full Gran Turismo title had been released. Granted, during those years Gran Turismo for the PlayStation Portable had been released as well as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue in 2007. But the latter only infuriated fans as it was a glorified demo that got hopes up the full version would be released imminently. It would be another three agonizing years before the full game did indeed arrive.

And when it shelves in 2010, it was a bit of a mess. The game wasn’t complete, there were bugs a plenty and some features did not work as intended. But, for the faithful that stuck with it, each update improved the game, brought more content, and in the end, created a racing icon.

Not All Cars Are Rendered Equally

Gran Turismo 5 had a mind-boggling car list. Over 1000 cars in total were included in the game, but there needs to be an asterisk beside that number. The majority of the cars were actually carryover PlayStation 2 cars from Gran Turismo 4. These were labeled as Standard cars. Their exteriors were less detailed, and the interiors didn’t exist at all. In fact, upon initial release it was not possible to race in cockpit mode with a standard car. A later update would allow in-car racing, but instead of a detailed interior, players were presented a rough shadowy outline.

There were hundreds of new and/or remastered cars that did take full advantage of PlayStation 3 graphics. These were called Premium cars and not only looked much crisper on the outside, but had fully detailed, realistic interiors.

The combination of Standard and Premium cars did add up to the most comprehensive car list ever included in a Gran Turismo title. It even had a full range of real NASCAR racecars from the 2010 season, that would be joined later by cars from the 2011 season as well. But fans of Eagle were still saddened by the fact the only car representing the brand was a pedestrian Talon ESi. And it was a Standard car.

Online Comes of Age

Gran Turismo 5 was released during the age of online video game reviews, so I am not going to get in-depth about all the various racing modes, gameplay or the cool racing suits one could purchase. There had been plenty written about that. What I will discuss is the online racing.  

Gran Turismo 5 was not the first game to allow online racing, but it really capitalized on it. Players could create public or private online lobbies and control every aspect of the gameplay. Vehicle restrictions, realism, track settings, time of day, racing style, etc. It was all in the player’s control. Serious racing, casual racing, or just messing around – there was something for everyone.

My favourite online mode by far was Shuffle Racing. In brief, a group of players would enter a race at a set vehicle performance level. Each player would be given a random car around that performance point and go race. After the race was over, those who did very well in the race would be given a different, slightly less powerful car for the next race why those at the back of the pack would receive a better performing car.

I would spend hours playing this mode as I loved the randomness and challenge of the various vehicles I would get to drive. After Gran Turismo 5, this game mode disappeared from the GT series and it is the feature I hope returns to Gran Turismo 7 the most.

Dirty Shuffle and Leagues

After a while, a group of us that always seemed to be in the same shuffle lobbies began to set up our own shuffle races. Some nights, after a few drinks, we’d begin dirty shuffle where the name of the game was drive as dirty as possible, trying to take your opponents out. Brakes? Nah, slamming into that car in front would work just as well when approaching a hairpin.

As much as we loved dirty shuffle, our group also liked hardcore, serious racing. We began a weekly online league that involved a 1-2 hour mini endurance race with zero driving aids, full damage enabled and fuel and tire wear. We even kept weekly points standings. This eventual broke out into other weekly events and I am sure this is just one of hundreds of such groups that formed back in the Gran Turismo 5 days.

Remote B-Spec Racing

A final note on the game – it was the first console racing game I could play even when not at home. There was a B-Spec mode included in the game where a player could have up to five AI drivers that could compete in career mode instead of the player. They would have randomly generated names and if some time was taken, players could end up with a stable of drivers brandishing names like H. Hogan, A. Ho, and B. End.

The more experience the driver’s got, the better they were. I got all five of my drivers maxed out in ability so they would easily win one of the six-hour endurance races. It was a great way to grind money to buy more cars. I was constantly running these races before work, after work, before bed, etc. I think my PS3 didn’t get turned off for an entire year.

And then in an update, grinding for in-game credits became even better. It was now possible to run a player’s B-Spec drivers against friend’s B-Spec drivers remotely through the Gran Turismo webpage. It meant I could continue to make money in the game even during the 8-10 hours I was at work.

I would always have the Gran Turismo webpage open on one of my browsers and run races with the drivers from my main account against my friend’s drivers. I even went as far as to create a secondary account full of useless drivers that were used as filler, to ensure my main account drivers received even more credits for victories.

Time Well Spent

I have mentioned in a few instalments about the amount of time I have spent playing Gran Turismo franchise. When it comes to total hours of actual gameplay, nothing comes close to touching Gran Turismo 5. Add in the time I spent running B-Spec races and we could probably gauge the time in terms of months spent playing. To some that may seem excessive. To me, it was time well spent.

Catch up on the first five installments of Growing Up Gran Turismo Below

Growing Up Gran Turismo Part 1

Growing Up Gran Turismo Part 2

Growing Up Gran Turismo Part 3

Growing Up Gran Turismo Part 4

Growing Up Gran Turismo Part 5

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