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I’ve been playing Gran Turismo 5 for a while so I believe I’ve got enough races under my belt to make a few observations.

First, GT5 is good.  I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my money on it.  Indeed, I find it entertaining enough to keep on racing.  Because the racing part is fun.

Right after GT5 came out there was a lot of discussion on Ars Technica about the menu system.  The general consensus was that the game menus sucked.  There were a few oddballs who decided they had nothing better to do than argue who made non-arguments about the matter.

My own feeling is that Polyphonic Digital, the people making the game, have never played GT5.  I’m not saying that to be mean, or shocking, but it’s obvious that not one person involved in making the game actually sat down and played it.  They may have played portions of it, maybe using a special developer code to get to where they wanted to be in the interest of making sure it worked, but that’s about it.

There are many things about GT5 that’ll make you scratch your head and wonder why things are the way they are.  For example, when you finish a racing set you no longer get your car right away.  You don’t get it until you go back to the Home menu.  Then you’re alerted that you have a new car and that it’s in your “truck.”  Then you click on your truck and you’re shown a ticket with the car name on it.  Then you click on the ticket and you’re asked if you’re sure you want to use it.  You click on “Yes” because there is no reason in the universe why you would click on “no.”  Then screen switches to blackness, you see headlights, and you almost see the front of your new car.  Then it asks if you want to use your car now.  More than likely you’re not going to want to so you click “no.”  Then a box comes up and tells you what color the car is and that you now have a bucket of paint available to paint another car that color.  You hit the button and end up back at the home menu.

See that whole paragraph?  That’s for collecting one car.  Now, if you’re like me, you try and do as many races as you can with what you’ve got.  So, I may be able to finish two or three different race sets before I go back to the home menu.  Doing that once is tedious.  Doing it two, three, even five times, is mind numbing.  You have to wonder why someone would do something so stupidly and when you think about it you come to the same realization that I did: the designers never played it.

It’s not that I don’t like the idea of having a “truck” with the cars in it.  It works well for when of your PSN friends gives you a car, I guess.  But if you had 20 friends and they all gave you a car you’d be spending the day just adding them to the garage.

So, you think, they screwed up on one thing.  Big deal.  Well, let’s go buy a part for your car.  You go to, say, the Intake section.  You buy a new air filter system.  You’re asked if you want to install it now.  You say “yes” because I‘ve never known someone who went to buy a part and didn’t install it.  Then you get the next box that says “Part installed.”  Well… No shit.  Really.  Think about how ridiculous that is.  It would be different if it actually took time to install.  Like, maybe you buy an air filter and it takes game days to install; then being informed that the part is installed makes sense.  To be told that when it’s installed immediately is just dumb.  And, of course, you have to hit another button after that.

There are lots of places where things could be streamlined, even a little bit.  Let’s face it, it’s a large and complicated game and waiting for stuff to load off the disc or HD is bad enough.  But to have speed bumps thrown in front of you for no reason just gets agitating. 

Another example is the license test.  Yes, they’re back but, thank God, they don’t appear to be mandatory.  Now they’re good for getting a free car and more experience.  But when you finish one of the tests you’re shown a spinning trophy for a few seconds.  Then the screen changes and you see a bunch of people standing around your car.  It shows all the same information the previous screen did.  You hit a button and you’re given the chance to move on or try again or exit.  That part could easily go on the trophy screen.  People standing around the car isn’t all that important, or even interesting.

And then there are the other odd things that don’t make sense.  For instance, go to your grandad’s place and open the hood of his 1974 Dodge Charger R/T.  Now look for the engine management computer.   I’ll wait.  Did you see it?  That’s because it didn’t have one.  If it did, it would be a warehouse attached to the tow hitch.  Yet, in GT5 (and, I think, all previous GTs) you can upgrade your engine with a performance chip.

Aside from all that, though, GT5 is fun to play.  When you’re playing it.

Oh, I forgot one thing.  GT5 also has “B-Spec” races.  This is where you set up a driver and let him do the racing for you.  If you have stuff to do, this is great because you can give your driver a totally blown out car and let him race the easy races for you.  I made a few thousand the other day doing dishes.  As long as the car can totally dominate over the others you shouldn’t have to tell the driver to do anything. 

That’s the only way I can see doing B-Spec races because otherwise it’s as dull as dishwater.  You can’t speed up the time anymore so you have to sit there and watch the race.  If the car you’re using is equivalent to the others in the field then you have to make sure your driver doesn’t lose his mind to road rage.