Gran Turismo 6: Best Racing Sim Ever

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Those who claim that PlayStation 3 is dead need look no further than 'Gran Turismo 6' (GT6). With more than 70 million copies sold, the racing simulation is PlayStation's single biggest franchise, and this most recent entry is its finest outing to date.

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The sheer breadth of the game is striking, with 1,200 different cars (120 of which are new to GT6), 37 locations, and 100 different track layouts to choose from. New cars include everything from the Fiat Abarth 500 '09 and the Ford Focus ST '13 to the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 '13 and the Tesla Motors Model S Signature Performance '12. Among the new circuits: the iconic Silverstone Circuit (home of the British Grand Prix), Australia's Mount Panorama, and Spain's Ascari Race Resort. And for those who have complained that the series is too clinical in its approach to racing, there is some relief: Polyphony has mixed things up a bit by including a bizarre moon-based event featuring a unique Lunar Rover vehicle. There are cart races, fuel-limited challenges, dirt races, rare vehicle competitions, and plenty more – more than any GT game before it, GT6 keeps things varied and new throughout. Also exciting is the Vision Gran Turismo section, which is slated to add downloadable concept cars from auto manufacturers to the game over the coming months.

As grand as its scale is, the game offers a level of detail that's equally impressive, perhaps even excessive. Variables like weather patterns, cloud cover, and temperature all influence the way cars perform; when it starts to rain or the temperature drops, you'd better not overcorrect, or you'll be flying off the track in no time. Even the game's virtual astronomy is accurate: sun, moon, and stars are all correctly positioned in the sky, depending on the time of day. The tuning mode remains deep, letting players tweak details from exhaust to tire type (and everything in between). A new Photo Tour mode lets you place your car in various real-world settings for posterity, with full-featured virtual DSLR cameras that allow you to adjust everything from ISO to focal length. If you're both a car and a camera enthusiast, prepare for some serious enthusiasm.

Most important, the game is more responsive and natural than it's ever been, thanks in large part to the implementation of a new physics engine. The developer has gone to great lengths to accurately re-create various technical details – hyper-realistic suspension and tires, among other things – and the result is a game that simply feels great to play. There's a real sense of weight to the driving, and the handling is easily some of the best seen in a racing title.

As is par for the course, 'Gran Turismo' looks very much the part, particularly for a game running on seven-year-old hardware. Car models are clean and properly reflect the exotic surroundings in their shiny paint jobs. The sun setting over vast rural expanses achieves near photo-realism at times, while urban tracks like Madrid and London sport plenty of trackside detail. While it perhaps can't quite match the sheer technical prowess of Microsoft's 'Forza 5' fox Xbox One, GT6 is a beautiful, brawny beast of a game that you don't need a brand-new console to play. [$59.99;]

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