The holiday video game rush isn't over yet. We received a majority of titles over the past month, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, Sony saved one last surprise in time for the holiday season, and it pulls out of the garage this Friday.
Gran Turismo 6 is the latest in the racing series from Polyphony Digital, headed up by director Kazunori Yamauchi. If you've been playing these games since the initial release on the first PlayStation, then you understand what kind of love and devotion the team pours into its efforts. Their racing feels second to none, leaning heavily on simulation-style driving while offering something for casual players in terms of driving aids, an assortment of vehicles to choose from and smart interaction with the racing community. The sixth chapter brings these features back in impressive fashion.
This latest edition features over 1,200 cars, including a variety of models from Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, McLaren, Lotus, Pagani, Plymouth, Subaru, Toyota and countless others. Just when you think you've found something that fits into your driving groove, along comes another car that you're tempted to add to the virtual garage, just so you can take it for a spin whenever you want. The game will also feature special models introduced in the new Vision Gran Turismo mode, as part of the series' 15th anniversary celebration. While specific details have yet to be released, you can expect these to be some really sweet rides.
These cars are more than eye candy. Polyphony went out of its way to assure that the vehicles feel like their real counterparts, from suspensions to engine noise. You can also change certain parts to see how performance increases/decreases around each lap, including tires (Polyphony calls them "tyres") and other small things. Playing around with these configurations should be a real dream for car enthusiasts – though it's optional if you prefer to simply hit the road.
The game also provides plenty to do when it comes to getting your drive on. Career Mode will test every aspect of your driving skills, taking you to events across the globe, from the twisting roads of Mt. Panorama to the beauty of Apricot Hill. The arcade mode also makes a return, in case you feel like taking on a quick time trial or drift trial event, or challenging others in a split-screen two-player format. You can even take part in a number of mini challenges, such as seeing how far you can get on a gallon of gas, or dodging cones in the road to perfect your turning skills.
One new feature that driving fans won't get enough of are the new Special Events. Here, you'll be able to unlock new tournaments over the course of the Career Mode, like taking the LRV for a spin on the Apollo 15 expedition route, and entering the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed. Just a word of caution: you'll need to be really good if you expect to gain any ground in these challenges. These will push your Gran Turismo skills to the limit.
It's important to have the right tuning to get the utmost performance from your car, as well as have driving aids activated when necessary. Newbies will want to take advantage of turning on steering and braking assists, just so they can master turns without careening into walls. For that matter, you can also turn on guidance arrows, which have become a staple in most sim-related driving games, including the recently released Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One. These really go a long way to getting the most out of your driving performance, telling you when to brake or gun it for the finish line.
To add further challenge, you can change the conditions of the course, such as racing day or night, or even adding some interesting weather conditions. Can your car hold up in the rain as well as it can on dry road? Here's your chance to find out.
As part of the GT6 community, you'll notice the returning Course Maker. This allows you to create tracks using a number of tools and then share them with others online. A later update will also allow for coordination with a GPS tool, in case you have a nearby race track – or stretch of road – that you want recreated later in the game.
Of course, Gran Turismo 6 is nothing without online competition, and it has a lot to offer. Along with the ability to hop into a Quick Match – if you want to start racing right away – it has plenty of clubs to choose from, as well as the ability to create your own. In these clubs, you can organize your own events however you see fit, whether it's private and for friends only, or a public club where you can make new ones. We've seen bits and pieces of this in action, and if you're any sort of fan of the series, you'll definitely want to take part.
Gran Turismo 6 doesn’t take advantage of the next-gen muscle of PlayStation 4, but it definitely makes the most out of the PlayStation 3 hardware, between its realistic gameplay, sharp presentation, robust community and multiplayer features. Be sure to hop behind the wheel when it arrives this Friday.