The Gran Turismo series continues with Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, a release oozing with style and computer graphic splendour, but lacking in the captivating game-play department.
I took GT5 for a spin on the Sony PS3, its lone platform for release, and treated myself to the latest in controllers. I tried the game with the new Logitech Driving Force GT [a steering wheel and pedals] and Sony's new DualShock3, complete with 8,000-year-old technology.
GT5 launches to a smooth and jazzy piano riff, instead of a Linkin Park blast or some other loudness. This grown-man approach to gaming continues throughout, and you realise the title is not targeted at the gaming teen. While these are not your father's Oldsmobiles, this is your father's video game: mature, refined, technical and dull.
Yes, the graphics are gorgeous. Yes, the engines growl and purr with precision. And the force feedback on the Logitech controller as I tore through the competition was impressive. But this is homage to the cars – and not a nod to the pure fun that race gaming has delivered .
As I careened around the curves behind the wheel of a 2004 Honda Integra in an early Class C race, the car did not lean or sway enough, as though the game physics had not given it enough heft.
I needed to place in the top three to snag a trophy in each Class C race in order to move on to Class B, and Class A.
Each ensuing class demands better cars, purchased with credits earned through high race finishes. But I wanted damage to the vehicle as I plowed into walls and other cars. That was not there in the races I played. I wanted bumper-to-bumper clanging and the gnashing of metal, also oddly absent.
In my hunt for a bit more adrenaline, I went online for real opponents. There were some glitches in a few races, but overall, the online races were the most fun. There was a steady set of drivers online that raced the same track about 10 times in a row.
If a particular driver cut me off and finished ahead of me in one race, I quickly restarted after we finished the race in hopes of a little payback. A feature called Gran Turismo TV, an in-game online channel, delivered video content to my PS3 via download.
There is also a feature on the making of GT5 and the history of the GT series.
The Gran Turismo games are directed by Kazunori Yamauchi, who is featured prominently in those videos.
The legend is seriously into cars, so much so that he may have overlooked a crucial fact: He is not making cars, he is making a game and they are supposed to be fun.
So what happened here?
Gran Turismo5: Prologue. Sony PS3. From Dh175