I Am A Race Car Driver is a series of diary-like articles by Xero based on his experiences of Gran Turismo 5, plus a short analytical review of a specific section of the game and a lap time to beat for those who already have the game.
It’s been five long years since my racing career and much has changed. The competition is faster, harder and better looking than before, with many rivals having sworn their allegiances and donned their helmets in the years of my absence. Half a decade is a long time to wait, but the time is finally right for me to get back in the driver’s seat and show these pretenders to the throne who the real king of the road is.
But my skills are rusty, weather beaten and aged and I must start at the bottom if I mean to make it to the top. License tests then are my first point of call, nailing the basics of acceleration, braking and steering. Signing up for the first of many carefully monitored trials, everything feels so instantly recognisable again, the seat feels like a well worn shoe as I slip into the cockpit. 3…2…1… GO! …and I’m accelerating towards my goal and I remember why I loved you Gran Turismo, I remember why we spent those hazy days and sleepless nights together in 2005. The tests fly by, I never ace them, I don’t have time, I can come back later. I just need to get out on the track again, against real competition, to prove my worth.
The path to greatness though is the same as it always has been: long. No one is going to give me a helping hand on this journey, no one remembers my glory days, my victories, so I’ll have to prove myself to the world again, beginning, as always, with The Sunday Cup. First though, I’ll need a chariot of speed to call my own. Handily, I still have a few credits left from my younger days, squirrelled away for a rainy day. The used car dealership is my first port of call and I greet the man as I enter. Though he is a stranger, it’s as if we were old friends; I know the ropes and so does he, he wants a profit and I want something that’ll have me tasting champagne sooner rather than later. He guides me past the beauties he has for his better customers, curvy numbers wrapped snugly beneath tarpaulin, through to the ‘more affordable’ section.
He shows me some K-Cars, some smaller family cars and some cheap little runabouts, proclaiming the benefits of their fuel consumption, reliability and low cost of repair. I cast him a weary look. He recognises that I have done this before and he guides me to the back of the show floor. I lay my eyes upon her and in my heart she is mine, an early 00′s Mazda MX-5 in Chaste White with a meagre number of miles on the clock. It has grunt, it has the looks and I’m man enough to know that this ‘girl’s car’ can be a demon with a little care and attention in the shop.
Race day and The Sunday Cup is upon me and I am nervous. It all happens so fast, from the countdown to the chequered flag and I remember very little. The crowd cheered as I thrashed my opponents by a good nine seconds at the finish, but apart from that, little remains, a distant memory, just the first rung of the ladder.
This week’s single lap time: Factory settings Acura DN-X Concept ’02 at Laguna Seca – 1:40.244
Presentation: Gran Turismo’s cars are incredibly detailed and life-like, with many sporting realistic interiors to complete the look. Plumes of smoke and dust billow realistically from the road on off-road courses and textures are of a high quality. Scenery in the game is a big disappointment though, everything is high definition, sure, but it’s lifeless and sterile, adding little to the experience. Human models too are a little jarringly robotic, especially when compared to the vehicles at your disposal. It’s beautiful to look at then, but a little soulless, though when you’re racing your mind will certainly be on other things and if you’re eyes aren’t glued to the track for most races, you won’t last long anyway.