GT5 Week; pre-launch preview
Gran Turismo 5 will be hitting stores tomorrow, much to the delight of PlayStation 3 owners around the world. It’s the latest in a series that dates back to 1997, when Gran Turismo first arrived on the PSOne. However, Gran Turismo is actually much older than that; Kazunori Yamauchi (and his team of seven) started developing the original back in 1992. Yes, a staggering 18 years ago.
Yamauchi-san is still in the driving seat, still pushing the PlayStation hardware as hard as ever, and unlike other franchises, which have stagnated with age, the Gran Turismo name still carries reverence today. We sense more expection for Gran Turismo 5 than we ever did for any of the previous Gran Turismo games – if not for any game this generation.
Because of this wall-to-wall coverage, it’s unlikely that this article will teach you anything new about Gran Turismo 5, but it will give you a clear picture of why this game incites such high levels of excitement.
So what does Gran Turismo 5 bring to the table? Firstly, it’s the first proper Gran Turismo on the PlayStation 3. Forget Prologue – that was a glorified demo with only 70 cars and six tracks – this is the real thing.
In this, you can get behind the wheel of over 1000 cars. No other racer can match this huge collection. Sure, not all the models are considered Premium Cars, there are only 200 labelled as such. The rest are Standard Cars but you shouldn’t read too much into the “Standard” label. The Standard Cars have been brought over from previous games in the series and have been touched up to look splendid in HD.
Sure, they lack the level of detail that the Premium Cars have, but that doesn’t stop them looking great on your television. Polyphony Digital released an official trailer for the Standard Cars at E3 this year which showed the Standard models to be up to the task. Admittedly, the footage appeared to be taken from in-game replays, which always look stunning in Gran Turismo, but the Standard models look visually impressive nonetheless. Watch the video below and judge for yourself:
As good at the standard cars are, the Premium Cars are the ones to get excited about. Every texture on these cars, inside and out, has been carefully recreated. We’re not just talking about bumper lines or a logo on the steering wheel, they’ve tried to recreate everything from the stitching on the seats to the finer details on the brake callipers. The Premium Cars also offer advantages when racing; for example, you can switch between low/high beams to suit your lighting needs.
As for new vehicles: there are more than we have room to mention. We now have NASCAR, which sees you racing against the likes of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart on the famous Daytona and Indianapolis tracks. The rally cars are also back. We even have karting; these light-weight vehicles are designed to zip round tracks at high speed. They are so light that the driving physics are significantly affected by the weight of the driver.
If real cars are not your bag, the X1 Prototype will be right up your street. “The fastest car on land” is a made-up vehicle designed by Polyphony Digital with the help of Red Bull Racing. This thing can do the Nurburgring in one minute and four seconds, and it can hit speeds of over 400 km/h. The X1 Prototype is lightning quick. The video below shows Sebastian Vettel taking this beast for a test run:
As for the tracks: there are 20 different locations in the game with 70 variations. You’ll be driving down the Alcalá Street in Madrid, circling the Coliseum in Rome, sliding along the gravel in Tuscany and even taking on Gambon on the Top Gear Test Track. Every track in the game has been lovingly created, right down to the finest details.
The game shows transitions in time wonderfully and its dynamic weather is equally astounding. This tech means that you can experience these tracks in so many different ways. We’ve raced on Tuscany, starting in glorious sunshine before moving into the pitch black night. The transitions in time, as well as being stunning to look at, really tested our driving skills; we couldn’t see a thing at night. The dynamic weather is even more of a challenge. The spray off the tyres in front will blind you, leaving you in a desperate situation.
Gran Turismo made its name as being a real-driving simulator. Yamauchi-san always tried to nail real-life physics, even back on the PSOne days, and he continues to strive for perfect realism today. The weight of your car, your tyre choice, the terrain you’re driving on, the weather and many other factors will affect how your car handles. In addition, you can still heavily tweak your car’s spec to suit the race.
Machine-damage has also been introduced, marking another step towards realism for the series. The look of your car will be altered, and so will the physics; think again if you believe you can get round this track by using the walls rather than your skill. Nevertheless, visual representation of damage, we suspect, will be one of the areas where the game could still lag behind the competition.
As ever, expect there to be a ton of tournaments and licenses for you to tackle in singleplayer, but it’s online where we believe everyone will eventually migrate. You can take your cars online and face total strangers or set up events where only your friends are allowed.
Don’t fancy driving, then be a spectator in other people’s races and see how it’s done. Also expect to see a strong social element to the game; you’ll be able to post Twitter-like 140-character messages and share them with your mates, and you will also be able to look up their profiles and view their various stats.
The key strengths of Gran Turismo 5 are awesome cars, graphics, tracks, physics and online features, but there are some other ways in which Polyphony Digital are taking the series to new levels:
- Head tracking Shift your head to the left or right and your field of vision will change. This is tracked by the PlayStation Eye.
- Full stereoscopic 3D You will be able to play the game in 3D. This isn’t a gimmick: the increased depth of field actually makes the game easier to play.
- Photo-mode Take your car to one of the many picturesque locations in the game, get out, find the perfect angle and take an HD snap.
- B-Spec is back: Manage a team of AI drivers and guide them through their turns, as part of the B Spec career.
- PSP connectivity: Transfer the cars you earned on Gran Turismo Portable over to Gran Turismo 5.
- Custom soundtracks: Do you have the perfect soundtrack on your XMB? You can listen to it while you race.
- Course-maker: Design your tracks and share them with your friends.
- Gran Turismo TV An on-demand channel where you can watch motorsport programmes (such as Top Gear), as well as programmes created by Polyphony Digital. Gran Tursimo has moved past being just a game.
These are just some of the components that make up Gran Turismo 5. It is a massive feature-packed game and it’s sure to keep you going for months, if not years.
This article has been designed to give you a flavour of what Gran Turismo 5 is all about, but we’re sure you already knew all about this series. After all, the franchise has sold over 56 million games to date. We have a feeling this figure is going to grow significantly over the next year, starting from tomorrow.
This is the second of many featured articles planned in what we are calling GT5 Week. We will bring you coverage of anything and everything Gran Turismo related.
Don’t forget to pick up Gran Turismo 5 tomorrow!