I have been a Gran Turismo fan since its first installment way back on PSX. In fact, I bought my original PSX because of GT. Since then I have got all the console versions (i.e. no PSP for me) of Gran Turismo ever released in North America. As most people who enjoy GT would agree, GT is different than the usual arcade style racing games (think Need For Speed here). It is a driving simulator (as its creator calls it) --- but is it really??
I used to truly believe that yes - Gran Turismo is THE driving simulator to swear by in terms of driving realism and attention to details. Well, in January a buddy of mine finally convinced me to try out iRacing (a PC online racing simulator); since then, my belief has been shaken and I have not touched GT since.
GT fans, hold off on the hate mails, flaming comments :) Please read on...
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the track of my comapro.
Last night I finally fired up GT5 for the first time since January and ran races around couple of my favorite real world tracks (Suzaka and Laguna Seca). I needed to find out for myself if I actually still enjoy GT like before.
I still love Gran Turismo and to me it is still a good driving simulator and not an arcade game (for the most part). It is just clear to me that there is something iRacing delivers that GT does not. In a nutshell, iRacing is an even more accurate and no-compromise driving AND racing simulator.
Driving simulation-wise, there is no setting to provide artificial driving aid (such as reduced traction loss on track edges, etc. that GT5 allows). So driving in iRacing requires the same level of concentration and respect to the law of physics (minus the risk of bodily injuries) as one must have in the real world.
Racing simulation-wise, well, iRacing has no CPU car to race against so one could argue that is an unfair comparison. However, that is also the essence of why iRacing can be (but not always) so engaging as the racing is done against real people around the world (grids with drivers around same skill levels) who typically exhibit real world racing etiquette (again, not always).
Last night on GT5, I used a RX-8 and then a Elise R111 racing against "Pro" level CPU at Laguna Seca. I am by NO MEANS a professional race driver, I am far from that but I was able to beat the "Pro" handily: 20+s over 3 laps on a rolling start from back of the grid! That has got to be a deficit for GT5 in terms of racing simulation.
The Drive Ahead
I will undoubtedly continue to play GT5 but not as much as when I first got it because in GT mode, the "racing" with ultra high performance cars (Professional Series and up) becomes closer to arcade style than a racing simulator. I will play it to primarily do time trials on real world tracks just to challenge myself to run consistent laps with cars of different levels of performance.
As iRacing is subscription based and the fact of it being a no-compromise racing simulator, it really takes commitment and time to extract the enjoyment and reward from it. So I will decide if I will renew my subscription when the next expiration is near; in the meantime, I have not spent much time on it and also do not have plan to commit almost every other night on it to run practice laps, qualifying and races like I did during the first 3 months I tried it.