Better than Gran Turismo? Yes, it is. This game is the best simulation driving experience you'll get. If you're a fan of Project Gotham Racing, or the Burnout series, this game might not be for you. It truly is a simulation game. There is a ridiculous amount of customization options that can entertain you for hours. Tires, gearing, alignment, springs, dampers, aerodynamics. That's just barely touching all the tuning. All in all, this game is all about high quality racing that is built for novices and experts alike.
Where the graphics shine are the car models. Every car in the game is close to perfection. Jagged edges however, are sporadic and do come through every once in awhile. Speaking of, the horizons are full of "jaggies" that you can see if you pay close attention. The tracks in this game are beautiful, (with the exception of the horizon), and you can see Take 10 did their homework on each turn and bump on the course. Skid marks remain over time, as does the damage that falls off the car.
You can paint your own car, and put 1000+ skins on your car to make insane and probably derogatory images to your own liking which you can also take online.
I'd take some jagged edges if it means my racing experience can be 60 frames per second. That's what this game utilizes and does it extremely well. Every move you make in the car is instant and can affect your entire race. Full damage is another thing that really makes this game more of a simulation. If you go into a corner and smash into a wall or another car, you'll definitely see the impacts--both internal and external. In some instances, you will even come to a stop because your engine and transmission is completely dead.
The heat of the tires, the alignment of your front camber, or how stiff your anti-roll bars are will affect how well your car will perform. Don't have an idea what I'm talking about? Well in case you're not a car fanatic, any changes you make to your car, you can always do a benchmark test to see what your top speed is, braking distance is, etc. That, or you can always test drive your car to see how bad you ruined it.
At the start of your career, you can choose between North America, Asia or Europe as your starting country. This will affect the rarity of some cars you're able to buy, and which cars are easier for you to buy. Each race will earn you some credits to let you buy upgrades (interior and exterior), or buy whole new cars. Also, the game uses an RPG-like level system that can reach up to level 50. Each level will earn you discounts on certain parts from name brand companies. Not to mention, your level also lets you unlock new races for you to engage in.
The issue I found in career mode is the game is too repetitive. This could be because of the lack of tracks, or that it is basically too easy in the first half of your career even on the hardest difficulty.
The game focuses on novices a bit giving you a suggested line, anti-lock braking system, traction control, and stability control. A.I. difficulty can be set to Easy, Medium, or Hard, and damage and tire wear can even be turned off completely. (Note that the easier you put the game, the less money you win after a racing event.) You can turn all of these off of course, which makes the game ridiculously hard. This is definitely what you want to do if you're finding the game a bit too easy. A lot of the earlier races in your career, you can upgrade your car to basically no limit. Since there are no restrictions, you'll basically be close to lapping your opponents.
Obviously, the only sound you basically get in this game are the sounds of engines roaring and huge exhaust pipes. You get the occasional thud of hearing someone smack into someone else which happens often. Don't forget the tire screeches either! Basically, it's everything you expect a racing game to have. Most of them sound about right too, though there are a couple instances where it sounds a bit messed up in the situation you're in.
Where the game truly shines is the multiplayer experience. You can play up to 7 players online through Xbox Live or LAN. Everything about the online play is solid with the options of exhibition, career, or tournament modes. In exhibition, you just pick a car and get going racing other people. Career Race is the same as your career offline. You can pick your career car in the garage and race against the Xbox Live community earning credits just like you do offline. In tournament mode, you have to qualify first on a timed lap, and if you're good enough you get to be in the tournament. Usually, there is one race a day (at probably inconvenient times), and the winner gets a trophy and some credits towards your name.
The coolest feature online is the Auction House. Any car you earn or buy in career mode, you can sell to the Xbox Live community in an auction. If you spend hours of work on painting and decal-ing your car, set the starting price high and watch people spend ungodly amounts of money on your car. You can even stamp your car with your name, so people know who was the original creator of the car.
Not to mention, you can gift a car to anyone on your friends list in case you're feeling nice.
If you like speed, customization, and cars, you'll love this game. This is definitely the best racing simulation game on any console. Other games might have more cars, but the physics and overall fun of this game is just too good to pass up.