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Ten reasons why GT5 could succeed or fall short
by Chris Hawke

Gran Turismo 5 is special. It's not just a video game anymore - it has grown over the past 5 years into a symbol of hopes, dreams, aspirations, passion, dedication, and - more often than not - delays.

But now, it's ever so close, and the internet is slightly unevenly split between those who share doubts as to whether GT5 could ever live up to it's monumental hype, and others who claim it to be the best game ever made.

Why these people use the present tense escapes us. It's not out yet. Still, being level-headed, sober, and kinda dull, Gamer's Guide to Life decided to compile ten reasons why GT5 could either live up to its potential and reclaim the racing crown, or be painfully held back by a few mistakes.

Ladies and gentlemen: start your engines...

5 elements that could make GT5 incredible

World Rally Championship/NASCAR
What exactly does a few minor inclusions of other racing sports mean? Variety. If GT5 were a shooter, constantly blasting its way through dingy gray corridors of 'normal racing', NASCAR and WRC are the huge set pieces that shake things up. If you're getting tired of the same old standard races in Rome, indulge yourself in the dusty and desolate World Rally Championship, or strap yourself in and pretend that you're not willfully throwing yourself into crashes in NASCAR. Both of these are sure to add length to an already inexhaustive game, and keep gamers on their toes.

It's still very hard to speak about Gran Turismo 5 without mentioning its incredible graphical fidelity. While I wouldn't go as far as to call the whole gaming world 'pixel addicts'; when it takes a second glance to distinguish real life from a video game, you know something special is coming your way. As well as looking stunning, the constant framerate means GT5 offers a brilliant level of immersion and beauty. Tearing your eyes away from the screen could be harder than you thought.

Polyphony Digital like cars. They really, really like cars. And that translates into a quest for perfection within the automotive world; forget developers cutting corners, or skimping on the noise of an F1 engine, because these brave men and women will stop at nothing to make Gran Turismo 5 the most complete love-letter to the world of four-wheelers ever. There won't be any half-baked elements here - each facet of the game's existence will be laden with detail and attention, which can only mean a better experience for all.

Night-time racing/Weather
As with WRC and NASCAR, night-time and dynamic weather puts a new twist on the same old tracks you'll come to know, but add an extra layer of depth and tactical thinking that's sure to give GT5 that extra edge. Do you dare try overtake on the inside at night, knowing that staying to close to the opposition's bumper could smash your lights and leave you blindly following the pack? Do you recklessly throw yourself into that final lap on a wet track as a last ditch attempt to get first place? These features should add reply value in spades.

Other genres struggle to capture the feeling of its real-life counterpart: no matter how realistic the shooter, you always get to respawn. No matter how accurate the brawler, you never feel the pain. While whiplash may be absent in the Gran Turismo series, every turn and corner is promised to feel exactly how it should. Just plug in a racing wheel and you'll be battling to keep the back-end under control in no time. If Gran Turismo 5 can really reproduce the thrill of real racing, you'll never want to leave the sofa.

5 elements that could hold GT5 back

Lack of a gimmick
Need For Speed: Shift had a gimmick. And it was awesome. Instead of surrendering to the fact that it was, in essence, just another racer; the inclusion of the excellent cockpit view, that blurred and saturated the faster you went, meant that the game suddenly became more immersive, involving, and exciting. Gran Turismo 5 lacks a gimmick: instead, it's put forth as 'pure', a celebration of racing at it's core. While this sounds very well and good, as 'gimmick' is often used for a feature that's rather useless; often this can become a unique selling point. A lack of an immediate 'pull' factor might mean GT5 becomes slightly stale and repetitive.

Polyphony Digital have big plans for their online. Sixteen-player racing, thirty-two-player voice chat, spectating races, and Gran Turismo TV could turn out to be a winning formula that adds a whole new dimension to the game. Or, in the case of Prologue, it could get messy. Our only view of the online so far has been slightly clumsy, with various connection issues and lag. Sixteen players is a whole lot for a genre that relies on split-second decisions, and it could lead to the online becoming a bit of a car crash.

But... Gran Turismo's about the racing, not the crashing, right? Crashing turns out to be a big part of the experience: it's your punishment for doing something wrong. And when you plough a Ferrari into a wall at 200mph, you expect that punishment to be pretty hefty. Luckily, wall-bouncing seems to be gone, but the unrealistic and slightly limp 'doors swinging open' of the 800 standard cars may prove to be a big disappointment that takes away from the otherwise spot-on realism.

Much like in your standard RPG, Gran Turismo 5 features constant progression in the world of automobiles. You'll start off with what you feel is the perfect car (OMG! A GOLF!), rise through the ranks and scrape enough money for a better vehicle (OMG! A TOYOTA PRIUS!) before getting into the fast lane with a series of supercars (OMG! A FORD GT!). Thing is, the journey sometimes doesn't equal the payoff. As tempting as it is to own a Bugatti Veyron, if you have to do another 100 time trials in a goddamn Suzuki Cappuccino, then it's probably not worth it. GT5 needs to strike a near-perfect balance of challenge and reward.

Gran Turismo 5 is probably the most anticipated PS3 game ever, and while that's sure to provide its own publicity and help sell a lot of copies, it's not always a good thing. So huge is the hype, it's almost as if GT5 will never live up to it, just because it's such an unrealistic ideal. Wild claims of endless lifespan and perfect textures can only harm the game as fans get carried away. Even if it's superb in every other way, it could be that the exaggeration only serves to leave some slightly disappointed.

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- Chris Hawke

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