Thursday, 28 January 2010

This cake has been far too long in the oven

If there is one thing that is abundantly clear about video gamers is that they're quite possibly the most difficult people in the world to please when it comes to entertainment.

Take a new gaming project, heap praise upon its preview code, add into the mix the kind of hype that would make George Lucas blush and then-even when said project actually delivers the goods-watch it get torn apart by its target audience the moment it hits the shelves. And if you're a publisher whom has decided to add a couple of years, (or more), onto the release date of your shiny new IP, well don't expect a warm reception unless what you finally ship is the most fantastic and audacious creation since the microchip.

Sometimes though, gamers do get it right.

For example: In the case of Silicon Knights’ Too Human, gamers and the gaming press alike were bang on the money. Originally penciled in for the Playstation back in 1999, it was then announced for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2000 before slipping into development hell and then resurfacing in 2005 for the Xbox 360. By the time Too Human was released in August of 2008 many gamers had lost interest in the project and for those who did still have their eye on Silicon Knights ‘ground breaking action-RPG’ ended up being very disappointed when the game turned out to be decidedly average. Too Humans’ most notable flaw was that many of the features on display in the game, (that were state-of-the-art ten years ago), had been done and improved on tenfold over the pursuing years leaving Too Human an uninspiring gaming experience to the point of being trite. A case of “This cake has been far too long in the oven".

So, let’s get down to it. Gran Turismo 5.

With yet another announcement that Sony’s seminal racing game was to put back for almost another whole year and given that the demo currently available on PSN showed that what was on offer was ‘good’ but not ‘great’ one has to ask, is this yet another case of an over baked IP?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that GT5 will be as uninspiring as Too Human, far from it, but it’s not too difficult to see why many gamers, (Playstation fans particularly), are more than a little concerned when a franchise as lauded as Gran Turismo sees the latest installment, (the first on PS3), move into its fifth year of development and not be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. (It’s worth pointing out that Xbox 360 gamers have had luxury of two very accomplished racing sims during the same time frame in the shape of Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport).

For a few fans of the series the main source of frustration will no doubt come from Polyphony Digital putting the game back even further as supposed to what the finished product turns out like. As long as it plays like a Gran Turismo, looks pretty, has hundreds of cars to tinker with and the recently included damage physics work to an acceptable level it’s safe to assume that a small proportion of fans will be more than happy. For many gamers though a new lick of paint, a few incremental changes, the use of Playstation Eye and the some well known sports personalities thrown into the mix [most likely] won’t be enough, especially for those who have already experienced the delights of Forza Motorsport 2 & 3 on the Xbox 360.

Having said all that, maybe this extra development time is what’s needed to raise Gran Turismo 5 into the stratosphere of current generation racing games? I mean, if we’re honest that’s what we’re all telling ourselves, isn’t it?

Gran Tursimo 5: Pulling up into a garage near you soon...well, maybe.

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