I purchased my PS3 almost three years ago now and one of the games being used to sell the console back then was Gran Turismo 5. As a big racing game fan, this of course was a huge selling point for me. Little did I know that it would be a few more years before the game would even be released. Luckily I have patience and with so many other great games to play in the meantime, everything was all good. Despite the fact that there were many more games that came and went, including numerous great racing games, GT5, which has now spent five years in development, has always been a game that I have kept my eye on for news or even a little scrap of information. Now, with the game having an official UK release date of the 5th of November, I thought we here at GGUK should take a little peek at some of what we virtual petrol heads will be treated to.
For many years the Gran Turismo series had been top of its game. But since the next gen consoles arrived there have been many other racing games that have put the series in the shade. Now with it’s imminent release, GT5 is out to reclaim it’s crown as the top driving game availble. So what is it bringing to the table that is going to help it do that? Gran Turismo has long prided itself on being “the real driving simulator” meaning that it’s out with the arcade style game play as Polyphony Digital strive to bring us a realistic handling driving simulator while keeping the game fun to play.
From the beginning of the series all the way up to Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, the handling of the cars in the games have been nothing but a great joy to race with. But across all of those games nothing has really changed throughout the series. With GT5 however, if what we got a taste of back near the beginning of this year in the time trial demo released on PSN Store for the first round of the 2010 GT Academy is anything to go by, we can assume that the handling has gone through a substantial overhaul. The one car we were given in this small taster was a lot more lively and fun to drive, while at the same time retaining the simulator feel more than anything we played in previous titles from the series and if this taster is anything to go by, then it’s already bettering the previous games.
GT5, like the previous games, will not disappoint when it comes to the car selection. After all, the cars are more or less what the game is all about and by the sounds and looks of things this latest version of the game will not be letting us down on this front. More on the looks of the game later, but it is hard to talk about the cars in the game without mentioning how jaw droppingly gorgeous they look. The fact that they look as good as they do is even more impressive when you take into account that there will be between nine hundred and fifty to one thousand cars in total, with everything from the Eco friendly Prius through to the most modern, up to date super cars such as the Bugatti Veyron and everything in between with many of the worlds car manufacturers involved.
Although every one of the cars is going to be modelled in the game to extremely high standards, as you can see from the screen shots shown here – each and every one of them looks amazing, the cars will come in two separate tiers, standard and premium. Both types of car will look stunning, but the premium tier, which will number around two hundred of the games stable of cars, have been given special attention when it comes to detail, both inside and out. The cars have been painstakingly recreated to such a degree that even the underside of the cars have as much detail as the rest of the car. Another difference in the tiers is the level of damage modelling the cars will have.
That’s right, I said damage. After all this time and numerous games in the series, fans get what many of them have been asking for. It will no longer be a case of if you slam your pricey dream sports car into a wall at high speed you will drive away with your car looking showroom perfect. The standard car choices do not have a full damage model and will be kept to a minimum such as dirt, scratches and dents on the bodywork. The premium cars however have a much more complete damage model with destructible bodywork and even interior damage modelling, and it won’t only be the looks of the cars that suffer as your performance will suffer too if you continuously smash into scenery and other cars. We are even told that bigger accidents are included and it will be possible to flip and roll your cars.
The game promises even more spectacular crashes when it comes to the licensed races. In another first in the Gran Turismo series, Polyphony Digital have picked up the licenses for Super GT, World Rally Car Championship and NASCAR, bringing with it official cars, drivers and teams from each of the aforementioned types of racing. Personally I am looking forward to the Rally side of things, hoping the developers have managed to improve on the previous dirt racing from the earlier titles, which I always wanted to enjoy but in my opinion was just never right. My hopes are high though that this has also been improved upon. The inclusion of NASCAR is going to do the game absolutely no harm at all in the eyes of American gamers, especially now that there is currently no up to date official NASCAR game on the market.
Although not technically a licensed type of racing, it has been recently announced that Go-Kart racing is also to be included in the game, which from what we have seen looks to be a lot of fun. Nothing has yet been announced, but the latest incarnations of Gran Turismo have included a Formula 1 car or two for us to play with, meaning the racing we have come to expect from a GT title will still be present, but on top of that there will be a whole lot more to boot.
Visually it is not only the cars that impress, the tracks also look amazing. GT5 will, much like other games in the series, include both original circuits created for the game (including some old favourites from way back from when the first GT game was given to us such as Autumn Ring, Deep Forest Raceway and Grand Valley Speedway) and a host of real life circuits, such as Fuji Speedway, Suzuka, Nurgburgring. As a stroke of genius and something that is sure to delight UK based car nuts no end, there is the inclusion of the Test Track from the TV Show Top Gear. Overall the game promises to have tracks in twenty different locations with around seventy track layouts. Like the cars, all of these locations and tracks are beautifully created, with the circuits based on real locations being recreated down to the smallest detail and looking almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Of course the game has more up its exhaust pipe than good looks to wow us with. A host of new features are being added for us to enjoy. The first two of which are dynamic effects which you will encounter during races and I imagine will be a selectable option for races. The first of these is day and night racing. Although night time racing made a brief appearance in previous Gran Turismo games, things are looking a lot more impressive here with smooth transitions from day to night time during the racing action and cars having working headlights with the player deciding when they are needed. However, what is making it’s first appearance in the series are the weather effects. For the first time in Gran Turismo we will be able to race in wet weather conditions, hopefully changing the handling of the cars drastically. Both of these features will add the challenge of racing under varying conditions. Another feature that remains in the game is the option to upgrade elements of your cars – tyres, wheels, exhausts, body kits and more. As you would expect, alongside these options sits the chance to tune your cars and play with a huge array of settings in an attempt to squeeze just a little more power or grip out of your chosen vehicle.
Players are going to need every bit of that power to win races, especially when it comes to the games online multiplayer action where the competition is always a little tougher. Although GT5 Prologue had an online racing option, it was all so random when it came to matchmaking in that you would choose an event that the car you currently had selected was eligible for and the game would then place you into a race with random players who were also looking for a race. With the new game there will be a much more involved multiplayer set up system, with players being able to set up their own game lobbies to hang around and talk in, inviting up to sixteen friends to join them. From there they can set up races, or host a track day event with players setting times in whichever cars they like, along with other activities. This upgrade to the online multiplayer is going to help no end in building the games community, rather than just throwing them into random races.
Also making use of Sony’s camera peripheral, Polyphony Digital are including a feature called head tracking which, if implemented well, could be a nice little addition to the game. What this feature will do is use the camera to pick up the players head movements. So turning your head slightly to the left or right would in turn result in your driver glancing to the left or right. How this would work while using chase camera, I am unsure. But using the in car cockpit view I could see this being a handy little tool, helping you look out for potential overtaking cars. Talking of cameras, they are also in game. Not content with the usual replay mode, GT5 takes it a step or two further along with allowing players to upload their favourite replay videos direct to YouTube. There is also the inclusion of Photo Mode, because with the cars and tracks looking as good as they do surely it would be silly not to include a snapshot feature to capture all of our coolest racing moments or biggest crashes. On top of all this, and for those that can afford it, the game can look even more impressive as you will have the choice of playing as normal or in 3D. To make use of this feature, you need to be the owner of one of those new fangled expensive television sets. But the option is there for those lucky enough to own the tech.
Along with all the features listed above, there are also a few gems that have been rumoured but not officially confirmed as of yet. The most exciting of these are the rumours of a track creator, which would lead to a potentially never ending source of circuits, especially if it went the way of Sony’s Play, Create and Share style of games, as I am sure some fans of the game would waste no time in recreating tracks from across the globe. We can only hope that this rumour holds some truth. Another more likely rumoured feature is named the “Stunt Arena” which, because GT5 is a simulator, I imagine being an open space with a few obstacles dotted around for the player to throw their cars around, rather than jumps and such. Although truth be told, a few jumps may be fun.
And so, with only a few more months to go before the many fans of the series, myself included, get our hands on what we have been waiting patiently for, we will find out whether or not the wait has been worth it. I am, like most other fans, sure that it is already a foregone conclusion that Gran Turismo 5 will be top dog once again when it comes to driving games later this year. In a couple of months, we will find out for sure.