Is the Wait Over?
June 18, 2010 – I’ve made no secret of the fact that despite being a huge Gran Turismo fan, I’ve been very disappointed in their constant delays and push backs. However, as a wise person once said, good things come to those who wait. Although Gran Turismo 5 still isn’t finished, what we saw at E3 was very impressive, and I have been assured that November 2 is in fact when this title will be released.
By this point in time you probably know the basic features in Gran Turismo 5. There will be an amazing car roster full of 1000 cars and plenty of high-res tracks from around the world. However, what you probably did not know is that 200 of these cars will be “premium” cars which will have more detailed visual styling and better damage modeling. Although all of the cars will feature sparking and scratching on impact, these premium vehicles will have the ability to be completely deconstructed, which leads to some downright epic crash possibilities.
In addition to the premium vehicles, it was also confirmed that at least eight NASCAR vehicles will be included in the game. These NASCAR vehicles will sport an amazing amount of detail as well and will have the ability to be taken out on any track in the game (not just NASCAR-licensed ones.)
But enough about cars; there have been a host of new gameplay features added to Gran Turismo 5 since the last time we heard about it. Chief among these features is the integration of both head tracking (via the PlayStation Eye) and 3D gameplay. It seems that almost every Sony title currently in development is optimized for 3D, and Gran Turismo 5 is no different. The 3D effects in the game are richly done, and you’ll be able to get a better feel for the track if you have a 3D-compatible set to use with your game.
The head tracking feature in GT5 is a little detail that might not sound like a big thing, but it actually does impact the way you play the game. When you are playing with the PlayStation Eye, the game tracks your head movements so you can look left and right while you are driving to see the other cars on the road. It takes a little while to get used to this feature, but soon it becomes second nature to look left and right to survey the track.
In addition to the new gameplay features, some new tracks were announced this year at E3. Adding to the global feel of the game, tracks were shown off from Rome, Madrid and Tuscany as well as the test track seen on the BBC show Top Gear. All of these tracks are in addition to the tracks already shown at GDC as well as the six tracks from Prologue. Although we weren’t able to pin down an exact number of tracks that will be included in the final game, we do know there will be at least 20 tracks total.
One of the features that has always been a part of the Gran Turismo series is the photo mode. However, like all of the other features, the fifth Gran Turismo is upping the ante for the photo mode as well. There are two different components to the photo mode: race photo and travel photo. Race photo mode allows you to pause the action and take photos of great points in your race. You can take race photos either during the live race or during the replay. The other is the travel photo mode, which allows you to actually position your car in front of various locales and take pictures photo shoot-style.
Although we weren’t able to check it out, we were given the inside scoop on Gran Turismo 5’s online mode. The game is going to feature an online lounge system where players can gather to set up online matches, compare stats, check out the garage, and of course race. One of the cool features of the online mode is that each lobby can be accessed independently of the user’s online status. So, if for instance you like to meet in a certain person’s lobby before starting a match, you can even if the lobby’s owner has connection problems or can’t make it online.
Gran Turismo 5 has been a long time coming. With almost a decade in development and plenty of fans waiting anxiously for its eventual release, this title certainly has a lot to live up to. However, if the demo that we saw at E3 is any indication of how the final game is shaping up, there is plenty to be to be excited about. With plenty of premium cars, new tracks, a new photo mode, and 3D/head tracking features, Gran Turismo 5 is certainly living up to the hype and will be well worth the wait when it releases this fall.
January 15, 2010 – Gran Turismo 5 has had more than its fair share of fits and start-overs throughout its long development time. The game has been delayed numerous times. GT5 Prologue, while good, was essentially little more than preview code tantalizingly slapped onto a retail disc. The PSN time trial demo hadn’t really shown us anything we hadn’t already seen. Damage modeling for the game has been seen once as a ‘work-in-progress’ at TGS and since disappeared.
After getting to test drive what one can only hope is a near final build of GT5 myself at CES, I can’t say that all my fears, or at the very least, doubts, have been allayed. On the one hand, this is certainly the fine-tuned, meticulously detailed, 1080p Gran Turismo that racing sim nuts have been arguably waiting for since the series’ comparatively provincial PSone debut over a decade ago. On the other hand, what Sony was showing was hardly a demo. Roughly half of Sony’s small section devoted to showcasing PlayStation products was focused squarely on GT5-there’s no doubt that it was the biggest title Sony was showing off at the show, culminating in a towering centerpiece of monitors and driving kiosks with Driving Force GT wheels that Logitech developed specifically for the game.
Yet the test drives were on a timer limited to two minutes and thirty seconds, and aside from being able to pick from a number of cars ordered by class, didn’t seem to expand much at all on what millions of gamers had already seen after downloading the GT5 time trial demo. The most notable absence was the damage modeling that had previously been shown in an unfinished form at last year’s Tokyo Game Show. I can understand something being a work in progress, but taking out a big, notable feature like that for a later demo raised a red flag in my head. Sony’s floor reps said a car’s bumper might get damaged if you hit it hard enough, and while there wasn’t much time to test this, sadly little evidence of any kind of damage modeling implementation was forthcoming.
Aside from being shown in regular high-definition, Sony also prepped GT5 in 3D. Adding 3D to media is an interesting application of visual technology, particularly for games, but it’s also clearly still in its infancy. Some games certainly benefited from the visual perspective changes-Sony’s own 3D display of Super Stardust HD looked fantastic, for instance-while others felt a little flat. GT5 was one of the latter. The biggest change to seeing the game in 3D versus regular high-definition was a substantial change in visual depth of field, making your car appear to drive off into a distant horizon (the effect was compounded when playing from the game’s cockpit view, which appeared very much in the foreground compared to the track ahead).
Yet when it came to your car’s interactions with different planes of perspective, GT5 came up short. Switching the camera to a third-person view of your vehicle especially created a floating effect, as though the vehicle was moving magically along the track, not unlike Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder in the original Star Wars rather than the tires actually gripping the road and interacting with the world around it. It may be visually interesting to see any sort of application of 3D technology at this point. But, for now, it seems that 3D gaming may be best left for games with a more “filmic” look, making games like Resident Evil 5 and Dark Void, whose movie-like lighting and visuals give off a feel of summer popcorn flicks, much more appropriate for implementing Avatar-style 3D effects. It just doesn’t seem like the best fit for a simulation-style game, at least until the technology improves.
3D or not, at its core GT5 still had the authenticity you would expect from Gran Turismo: the cars were beautiful and had a marked graphical improvement over Prologue, (as did the tracks, but like any GT title, the tracks aren’t exactly a focal point). The lighting and reflection on the cars was particularly impressive. Similarly, the handling, steering, and physics were dead-on. Clearly the guys at Polyphony have been doing something about development, as GT5 plays exactly like Gran Turismo 4, Prologue, or GT PSP, only with more horsepower under the hood and with all the requisite updates needed to keep a long-standing series fresh over the years (just how you would expect it to play, basically).
I was also happy to see more than one track on display (Tokyo Route 246, Road Course Indy, and the treacherous Nürburgring could be driven on) and a handful of cars from concept and GT Racing to Tuned and Super car classes. The final game will reportedly have about 950 cars, so what was being demo-ed was only the smallest of tastes, but even in the demo the manufacturers ran the gamut from the expected Japanese mainstays to triple-A roadsters from Ferarri and Lamborghini. There were even a few rally cars available, though Sony did not provide a suitable dirt track to really test out the game’s off-road physics.
There’s little doubt in my mind that suggested GT5 isn’t going to be a worthwhile investment for car lovers and gearheads everywhere, whenever it finally ships. Polyphony has reportedly worked hard on getting a robust online component together, and the amount of specialized tuning you’ll likely be able to do to your car will surely live up to the series’ pedigree. Given a very small glimpse of what Sony was showcasing last week, most people would probably just think it’s all to continue to build hype, but in light of the lack of damage modeling, lackluster 3D implementation, and the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of delays for the game, I’m torn between wondering if such measures really help to build anticipation or just a lack of confidence in the product. After so many years in development, the very notion that GT5 could actually be disappointing is pretty ridiculous, and as long as Polyphony doesn’t reneg at the last second on any of the game’s notable improvements, they have nothing to worry about. C’mon, Sony-we all know the game is going to be the best GT yet. When are you going to come out and prove us all right?
Get in the driver’s seat!
September 5, 2007 – Gran Turismo is a staple of the automotive genre of video gaming. Since its very first entry nearly ten years ago, the Gran Turismo franchise has been appreciated for its depth of gameplay and its uniquely engaging driving experience. And with its fifth entry fast approaching its 2008 release, Gran Turismo 5 shows no signs of slowing the franchise down. In fact, this entry looks to turn up the heat on the franchise considerably.
Knowing the history of the Gran Turismo franchise, one learns to expect certain things. Like cars. Lots and lots of cars. And Gran Turismo 5 does not disappoint in this arena. Setting the bar incredibly high at a whopping 700 different models, there’s bound to be a car for everyone in this game. And it’s not just vintage and modern cars either, Gran Turismo 5 has cars from the forgotten decades of the 1980s and 1990s as well as all the old and new favorites. And in the mix with all these cars, there’s a Gran Turismo first-Gran Turismo 5 will be the first in its series to feature Ferraris.
Another first for the Gran Turismo series this time around will be its foray into the world of online play. It seems with the advent of the next-gen experience, online play looks to be more of a requirement then a feature. And Gran Turismo takes its new foray into the online world and runs with it. Online play will support up to 12 people and will include full voice chat capabilities as well as integration with Sony’s Home service.
One new feature of Gran Turismo 5 that has many people very excited is the new in-car viewpoints. And it won’t just be a windshield view either. You’ll be able to see the steering wheel, rearview mirror, and side mirror. And your mirrors will be fully adjustable, so the experience will definitely give players that realistic racing feel.
And even though all these new features add up to a pretty loaded new Gran Turismo experience, there’s one thing that’s been consistent with each new entry in the Gran Turismo series: amazing graphics. Ever since its first entry all those years ago, the Gran Turismo series had been associated with some of the very best graphical content for their respective time periods. And Gran Turismo 5 more than outperforms in this arena. One of the few games to join the elite ranks of 1080p HD presentation, Gran Turismo 5 looks amazingly smooth and sleek. Cars are incredibly detailed, and tracks shine with the type of meticulous graphics you knew the PlayStation 3 was capable of.
Another feature that is receiving an upgrade is the control scheme. There will be two distinct ways to control the game: normal and professional. As you may have guessed, normal mode is for the casual automotive gamer, and professional is for those who crave more intricate controls. The professional mode also takes into account many additional factors beyond control including environmental conditions and vehicular physics.
And for those of you who just can’t wait to see some of these new features in action, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will be available for download from the PlayStation Network sometime this fall. In addition, to the downloadable version, there will also be a Blu-Ray version shipped to stores. The Blu-Ray version will have a few extra features, but will also have a higher pricetag.
Gran Turismo 5 looks like yet another awesome entry in a series known for its continual surpassing of its own standards. With a great look and excellent new features, it’s all but assured that Gran Turismo 5 will be the vehicular game to get when it releases early next year, exclusively for the PlayStation 3!