It was a day unlike any other, the foundation of Gran Turismonery sent me 20,000 GT Credits and so my career as a Gran Turismo racing driver commenced once again.
It’s been a long time for me, I bypassed GT4 after being really too busy to bother with it and being put off with the idea of “going through it all again”. GT3 was a long time back now, at least ten years, and the times before of GT2 and GT1 have since fallen into fond memories of a smokey room with controllers being passed around in complex split screen round robin tournaments.
As such, when reading the track list I was enamoured with the thought of tearing round Trial Mountain, Autumn Ring and Grand Valley once again, even if I couldn’t quite remember which way the corners went.
The GT5 Bluray arrived on my doormat on the 23rd of November and from then it was time to resume where I left off all those years ago, albeit at the bottom of the long, long ladder.
After battling through a lengthy install, overly dramatic intro sequence and interface that is seemingly designed to confuse, I eventually found myself in the used car market, ready to pick up my first jalopy. Naturally prices aimed me the way they wanted me to go, and a Mazda MX5 (Miata) looked to be the best choice for anyone that isn’t a lunatic. 57000 km on the clock and a sump that looked like Ozzy Osbourne’s spit pan, not bad for 17000 credits.
Out on track in the Sunday cup it was immediately back with me, the feeling, that GT feeling. Yes, I was racing against Fiestas and strange square Nissans on a track wide enough for trucks, with around 100,000 cheering spectators waving us on as we trundled past at speeds almost approaching one hundred miles per hour!
Naturally, no qualifying, and for some reason Yamauchi insists I always start in sixth place, which is nice. As we all tramped down to turn two at Grand Valley East I was impressed by the AI’s ability to generally avoid contact and race cleanly, I was then very amazed that they were such a bunch of jessies when it came to braking! Having lost two places off the grid due to my shagged old Miata having alot less horsepower than it was supposed to have, I duly sliced into third place by claiming no less than five places in one braking area. If that shit happened to me in real life I’d laugh my fucking tits off.
Anyway, obviously these guys are rubbish, this “level zero” championship is bound to be a bit easy. Hang on, level what? GT never had levels, what the deuce is going on here? Well, I’ll worry about that later.
For now, my attention turns to the tyre model, as I whang my yellow heap from corner to corner I become all too aware that the tyre temperature modelling has had a massive upgrade, and each individual tyre maintains independent temperature and subsequent grip level, unlike the front/rear modelling in previous titles. This is not hugely apparent in the Miata, running normal road tyres it takes quite some action to overheat the rubber and driving with wild abandon with little tyre management is the order of the day. As upgrades to newer, grippier, softer tyres are purchased this should change, though I hope not to have to spend too much time in this old lump, having already formed a loose strategy to use this car as a stepping stone. If I can earn enough to get something suitably fast and upgradable I should be able to use that one car for a huge chunk of mid-game championships.
On the stock road tyres the modelling is curiously forgiving, there is a comfort in the slip curve that, when slip starts to occur, has a very big plateau before drop off, making “the limit” quite a big sandpit. Arguably this is not unusual for most road spec tyres, but I will be keeping a close eye on this as I move up through the ranks.
As an aside, I did some playing in arcade mode and took out a Pagani Zonda R at Le Mans where I found that the slick tyre model suffered, inversely, from a very small usable area of slip, where the tyre would drop off alot faster than one would expect and the rear tyres seemed to become very confused when blending londitudinal force with laterel. This is something we saw alot of in rFactor and its derivatives many years back and is debatably one of the trickiest areas to model in current sims. Again, this is something I shall pay more attention to as I progress through the ranks and drive more cars.
High speed body control seems to be more accurate than past titles, but can still let you get away with murder, especially in fast lateral weight transfer, and braking hard with a completely destabilised rear end seems to be far more manageable than it really should be. It also seems distinctly the case that one can dive as deep into a corner on the brakes as they dare and lose very little speed from being in a royal class four wheel drift.
All this leads to is the traditional GT driving style, where one can throw the car around with wild abandon and survive. It will take more time and practice for me to establish if, like previous titles, this method works out quicker than driving smoothly and cleanly, or whether cars will start becoming more troublesome as one moves up the ladder, but for now I am watching replays where it all looks a bit like a car chase in a Bond film.
Onward to better things, and now I have reached level 6 I seem to have unlocked the next tier of races. Oh, levels, what fun, let me go and spend my hard earned on a massive scary Skyline to pulverise the opposition. You what? Levels tie to cars too? So hang on, since when did I buy a copy of Autotrader, call up some bloke selling a car and then get told I wasn’t good enough to have it? This is an OUTRAGE!
Yes, in the past GT mirrored real life by presenting both new and used cars that the only prerequisite to drive was whether you had enough money. Now, it seems, one has to have reached a certain level to be allowed to drive certain cars, regardless of the colour of your money. This is forcing me down the gameplay path they want me to take, instead of allowing me to choose a dynamic path up the order. I don’t like the restriction on my freedom, but I guess it prevents me from playing this game in exactly the same way I have played its predecessors. Where, in the past, I might have tried to get away with buying as few cars as possible and investing my money in upgrades, now I will need to purchase cars of various types to complete certain championships and reach the desired levels for the car I actually want. Hmmm, we’ll see how this goes. I suppose the point is that I have loads of cars, right?
Oh well, anyway, I bought an old RX7, 1993, with 80000 km on the clock, threw a few upgrades at it, some race spec tyres and adjustable suspension and then set off on the amateur level races, and with it the next step on my journey.
In the midst of this there was a completely ridiculous race of VW camper vans around the Top Gear test track, which was funny until it became rubbish, and some two stroke kart racing that really only made the physics model look bad. More on that next time.