Gran Turismo 6 is going to be one of the swan song titles for the PS3. The franchise is one of the biggest selling of all time and with several years often passing between releases, Polyphony have a good history of putting out demos and prologues to keep fans salivating for the full game.  What we have this time is not a full demo of the game, but instead an introduction to the GT Academy. This is the most accomplished of series head Kazunori Yamauchi’s big ideas.

His obsession has moved from the realism of the game to completely blurring the lines between real and virtual motorsport. The GT Academy started in 2008, and looked to find the best Gran Turismo player to join the Nissan Racing program. Online challenges posted up on the game consisted of getting the fastest times on sections of a track, before competing for the best complete lap time to move on to the next round.

It was massive, not just a success commercially for the game, but when the inaugural winner Lucas Ordonez found himself on the podium in his first professional event, Yamauchi’s dream had been realised. Some had begun to question whether he was truly interested in Gran Turismo anymore, after he started placing himself in various race events through Nissan, and the obsession with the GT Academy mode certainly shows this change.

The demo itself is essentially an introduction to the GT academy mode, followed by some qualifying events featuring Nissan cars like the Leaf and the 370Z. Graphically the game is essentially identical at this point to GT5, however with the controller at least, the handling physics have definitely seen some work.

Gran Turismo has always had a sort of heavy feel, and you couldn’t get the tail out or anything that you might consider exuberant, but now the handling feels a lot more responsive. Where as a lot of cars felt under responsive in GT5, now even the Nissan Leaf feels like you can chuck it around in a much more realistic way. The other big new addition is Silverstone. Finally the home of British motorsport, and the home of hundreds of racing teams, including a lot of the F1 paddock, is in Gran Turismo.

 

One of the other big bug bears for GT fans was the sluggishness of the menus and the loading times. The GT Academy demo is obviously tiny compared to the main game, however the loading times are fast and jumping in and out of races and events is vastly quicker than Gran Turismo 5.

It’s not quite clear what we are supposed to take away from this demo. You get a sense with Yamauchi that the only people he thinks should be playing Gran Turismo, are people who want to seriously become a racing driver. So this GT Academy demo, with Lucas Ordonez himself taking you through some of the skills you’ll need before entering the GT Academy itself, isn’t really much of a demo at all, and still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

The big issues for GT5 were over complicated menus, sluggish loading times and bad multiplayer. We have a glimpse of some nice new menu screens, but it still looks as complicated as any Gran Turismo game, with tabs and different fonts and logos for everything you seem to be able to click on. As with most demos there wasn’t any multiplayer to try, however that’s also because this is simply to funnel people into the first GT Academy event, not so fans can get to grips with the new game.

Overall very little has been given away by this demo. The big thing to take away from a gameplay standpoint is that the handling physics are much improved from GT 5. The slow unresponsive feel has been replaced by a much more alert system, putting the onus on you as the player to be smooth with the controls. This is a bit strange then that the default accelerate and brake controls are on the face buttons like no racing game has had almost since the debut of the current console generation.  The GT Academy demo is certainly worth playing for any GT fan, it’s free and fun but expect to complete it feeling at least a little bit confused.

Buy This Game Now

  • Developer: Polyphony Digital Inc
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America