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I Am A Race Car Driver: Part 4

December 26th, 2010 by

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.

At the end of last week’s piece, I had become disenchanted with competition, the allure of trophies and medals and first places tarnished by the knowledge that it is simply how much money you have and what cars you have access to that truly limit a driver’s possibilities. Despondent, yet still possessing a burning love of motor sport and motor vehicles, I made the hard decision to retire from my long journey to becoming a racing legend.

The thing about speed though is that it’s addictive and addictions are hard to overcome. Finding a suitable replacement is tricky, I wanted my skills tested, but on a level playing field, my limits pushed, but not due to technological disadvantage. My methadone then has been license tests, specifically going back to earlier challenges to improve upon earlier times and starting the long road to possessing a ‘Special License’. Here I find goals and aspirations that are within my reach, mechanical puzzles to which I have the tools to solve. Mopping up silvers and golds in the first two licenses is enjoyable and rewarding, mastering the key basics and not just understanding them leaves me with a greater appreciation of the physics of racing. I begin to become very aware of the various vehicles I pilot and the cars begin to become extensions of my body, I synchronise with their weight distribution, knowing to the millimetre how far to one side the suspension will lean on any given corner, at any given speed. It is an incredible feeling of self control and enhanced power and it satiates my hunger for speed to no end.

When I grew full on this bounty of kineticism, my mind wandered to other things, other conquests, other avenues to explore my passion for racing. I don’t know what it was about the world of celluloid that appealed so much, but photographing these works of engineering ingenuity engaged me like never before. I’d never really considered myself particularly artistic but I felt that art is always best when you have experience of the subject you are portraying. I know cars.

I found myself beginning to explore the fundamentals of composition and tweaking filters for dramatic effect. I played with focus and exposure and balance. I experimented with shot angles and height and framing. But the star would always be the car and their beauty began to go beyond aerodynamic curves and hard lines of metal and carbon fibre. They began to tell their story own unique stories, playful designs expressing cars that were full of fun, or sleek and smooth lines of precision revealing a vehicle more animal than machine. The piece I’m most proud of is the below, a war time VW Type 82, the Third Reich’s equivalent of the allies’ Jeep, a participant in war that had  no choice but to do so, its large headlights wide open, innocent eyes, its cold focus on function over aesthetic unable to contain a playful and powerful soul.

With all of this thought being put into the historic, I began thinking about how I will be remembered, what my own legacy in Gran Turismo will be. It’s not enough to be a winner, everyone wins eventually. No, to be more than a name listed a long way down a bronze plaque would take something else entirely. Too much of an amateur photographer to have my work held for all time in an automotive museum, not a skilled enough driver to forever hold a course record, I decided that the best course of action was to let my knowledge be remembered, not my name. It was time for me to find a protégé.

But that’s another story, for another time, I’ll leave you with the best shot I took, the one that sums up the world of Gran Turismo and the experiences I had, taken on my favourite section of track – The Corkscrew – at Laguna Seca in the car I started this fantastic journey with…

Conclusion: Gran Turismo 5 is the best simulation racing game available at the moment, though it’s not without significant flaws. The series hasn’t moved on structurally since its PS2 days, there’s still a lot of grind, car fetischism, gear-head-only focused content and a menu system that is infuriating. If you’re willing to look past this, what lies underneath is a title of great subtlety and near-infinite reward, stunning in motion both mechanically and visually.

5 Responses to “I Am A Race Car Driver: Part 4”
  1. avatar Anthony Bate says:

    I am sad that I Am A Race Car Driver has rolled into the pits for the last time, it was good to get another person’s detailed perspective of GT5.
    I feel my time with GT5 is also at an end. After getting up to A Spec lv25, unlocking the endurance events, I thought it would be plain sailing. Each endurance event would surely give me masses of xp to get me to the next level for the next race. Also untold riches would surely come my way.

    Nope, it was a bag of tosh. After spending 2 hours doing 60 laps of Grand Valley Speedway, finishing 14 laps ahead of all rivals, I was awarded with a pituful 10% of my next level and 115,00Cr. I could’ve made more in 10 minutes in normal races.

    So, in a nutshell, FU GT5, FU right up the A. Unless it backdates all the xp I clearly deserve, it can piss up a rope for all eternity.

  2. avatar Guernica2 says:

    Great articles Xero, loved reading them.

    I think one of tour statements should read ‘best racing simulation on the PS3′ though.
    I’ve just been back on Forza 3 and my first race (mid career) was an eight lap affair. There was more action and competitive driving through those eight laps than was in the entire fifteen hours that I spent with GT5.

    It’s certainly not a bad game but when you compare it with the competition, especially with it missing realistic damage, then Forza leaves it behind…and a very long way behind at that.

  3. avatar foomoo says:

    Interesting Xero. Very eloquent prose, and I was somewhat hesitant you would deliver the killer blow that i expected, but it came. It was also backed up by comments from Guernica and Bates. Yes, all fears have been realised.The king is dead. Forza is, and has been for a while, the new King.

    Long live the King.

    It’s a sad day.

  4. avatar foomoo says:

    …and there I go… off topick up Forza 3 for $19.99. and who can blame me?

  5. avatar Guernica2 says:

    Yep, it had so much potential.

    Foomoo, your money will be well spent. :)

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