Gran Turismo 6: the Digital Foundry verdict
If Gran Turismo 6 is the final last-gen title from Polyphony Digital, it could be suggested that the developer still hasn't met its objective set forth almost a decade ago: to deliver a 60 frames-per-second racing simulation at 1080p on PlayStation 3. In fact, generally speaking, performance remains smoother in both PS2 and PSP versions of the game. We still have elements in the game remaining from the PS2 generation and the gold standard 60fps update clearly hasn't been met with the consistency we would have liked. While the resolution boost is welcome, the move to MLAA from multi-sampling feels like a retrograde step (especially in 720p mode) that doesn't particularly suit the style of the game.
When GT4 was released on PlayStation 2 it felt like something close to a complete, finished product from end to end: there was the sense that everything the team set out to accomplish - bar online racing - had been achieved. With Gran Turismo 6, we simply don't get that same feeling - the engine created for Gran Turismo on PlayStation 3 has never quite fully delivered and Polyphony's ambitions were seemingly too high to be delivered on last-gen tech. The frame-rate dips here are just too jarring at times, impacting the interface between player and game, introducing too much inconsistency into the way the cars handle from one race to the next.
Gran Turismo 6 certainly suggests that Polyphony Digital has learned some valuable lessons in transitioning across generations this time out - creating assets at a quality higher than could be fully appreciated on PlayStation 3 certainly makes a strong case for this. The inclusion of features such as adaptive tessellation, which could become genuinely practical on PS4, only serves to further cement this position. By further refining the lighting, shadows, and track detail while increasing resolution and performance levels, we could be looking at a proper PlayStation 4 sequel. Other enhancements spring readily to mind: real-time lighting as standard on all tracks, improved weather conditions, a revamped damage model, a genuine revolution in the racing AI model and fewer compromises on background scenery all spring readily to mind.
Gran Turismo 6 still delivers the best GT experience to date with more content, features, and details than any instalment before it. There are still weak spots, including somewhat spotty AI and less than remarkable engine sound reproduction (we can't help but think that the RAM requirement alone rules out the mooted audio patch, but let's hope that this is coming) - but the driving model is refined to near-perfection, held back only by the inconsistent performance. Despite falling short of the original goals, the end result is still remarkable - this is the most complete Gran Turismo package released to date.