This is GT5. If you've ever played a Gran Turismo game before, you know exactly what to expect.
GRAPHICS - they're just not what I expected. The 200 "premium" cars (i.e. the ones they put some work into) are amazing, but nothing better than Forza 3, which is a couple of years old. The overall production value is very poor for a PS3 game in development for 6 years!
CONTROLS - this isn't the fault of the game, but the Dual Shock 3 pad is NOT suited to this game. The default controls map accelerate and brake to cross and square, which is pretty pointless in a simulation game. Changing them to the triggers is an improvement (especially as most of my racing games are on xbox) but still, they're not responsive enough to make the most. I am sure with a decent steering wheel this will be much better, but I've not had the opportunity to test that.
SOUND - some amazing work has been done here, a massive upgrade to the previous games in the series. With my 5.1 system it sounds pretty much perfect, with the audio adjusting with the different camera settings.
GAMEPLAY - A simulator at heart, this game does what it says on the tin. Cars feel suitably weighty, and each car has its own character. The game "feels" very real. Unfortunately it is let down by the controls - I'd strongly recommend a steering wheel, it HAS to be better that way!
The career progression has been streamlined, but not necessarily in a good way. The "home" screen is cluttered, and progression is stilted. Licences can still be earned through the usual training sessions that teach you the intricacies of driving, but are no longer essential - really only there for the obsessive or the bored. With each race you level up your driver with different amounts of XP awarded depending on your finishing position, similar to Forza 3. As you level up, new events and cars become available.
There are a number of special events. You can enjoy Go Karting, have a race around the Top Gear Test Track, or even receive professional driving lessons around the different sections of the Nurburgring. These events are really the heart and soul of this game, adding flesh to what is, to me, a tired formula.
CONCLUSION - All in all a worthy purchase for fans of the series, but not so essential for anyone else. For those who own both a PS3 and a 360, I'm surprised to say this, but Forza 3 is all round a better game.