E3 2010: Gran Turismo 5 PreviewBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 17, 2010
What We're Seeing:
I haven't gone to get hands-on time at the Sony booth, but I was in attendance at a media panel headed up by game lead Yamauchi Kazunori. Although I didn't hear the full details on the game -- Kazunori promises to spill his guts in two months at GamesCom -- I got more than a fair share of information from the media breakout session, which focused on cars, tracks, user hub, and online.
Gary Numan Can Dig It
GT5 will boast over 1000 vehicles, divided into standard and premium cars. Kazunori showed off a trailer that highlighted the 800 standards, including classic cars and rally vehicles. The vehicles cover the majority of cars previously included across the entire GT series, but they've been optimized for the PS3's graphics shader. He then went into great detail on the 200 premium cars and the physicality of models. Both types will feature physics-based damage, as well as body scratches, dents and dirt. Premium class vehicles, however, will also feature separation of panels and vehicle deformation, plus fully modeled interiors that accurately recreate the real thing. Just to prove his point, Kazunori showed off pictures of real life vehicle components, such as a wheel, the engine bay of a Lamborghini, a Nissan GT, and a Super GT car, complete with harnesses and wiring. It's hyperreal in comparison, and helps you realize why the game has taken so long: the level of perfectionism on display is jarring. "We worked too hard on this; it's almost better suited for next gen of PlayStation," Kazunori said. Don't get any ideas, please.
He also provided details on the NASCAR license. Polyphony announced the official cars for nine racers, including Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. "It was a difficult process. NASCAR's rules and regulations are so different from other race types that we've used that it's like comparing soccer to the NFL, but we've worked to implement NASCAR's ideas into the game," said Kazunori, "but I'm happy with the cars. We listened to
NASCAR fans who wanted to see NASCAR vehicles on the Nurburgring and other locales outside NASCAR, and I've used them. They're very fast."
Frequent Driver Miles
Kazunori also provided details on some of GT5's locales. According to him, urban races are the most difficult to accurately portray, and it has taken Polyphony over two years to create the city landscapes where you'll speed around at ridiculous velocity. He showed off Curso Del Sol in Central Madrid, which, like the cars, appears hyperreal. He switched gears to show off a different landscape with the Tuscany stage. It's all about dirt roads and open vistas in this location. Polyphony has also updated its Rome track, which was introduced in GT3, but the layout is different than the past incarnation. The Top Gear Test Track is a faithful recreation of the one on the famous show. As he pointed out in an overhead diagram, there's a section of the track that resembles a small figure eight. He laughed as he told us how easy it was for him and the team to have nasty accidents in that area of the track in-game. Most importantly, if you want to get an idea of both how detailed GT5 is and why it's taken so long, consider this fact: Kazunori has worked hard to recreate real-life graffiti that people have tagged along the many kilometers of Germany's Nurburgring -- except those that Sony Europe censored.
Gamer Was Here
GT5's Photo Mode is also quite detailed. Kazunori showed off a demo of Photo Travel Mode. It's still a work in progress, as the menus aren't perfect yet. He showed off a demonstration of the Kyoto Gion course. In Photo Mode, you can set up gorgeous shots of your car in different locales. In Kyoto, the stage has cherry blossoms showering the ground around the car, and Polyphony has even recreated the walk you'd take in the neighborhood to figure our the angle for the photo you want to take of your car.You can rotate the angle, zoom, autofocus, and more. Sounds from the areas in question were even recorded and recreated in game. In Race Photo Mode, you can get still shots of both the interior and exterior of the car.
Gran Turismo Comes Online in a Big Way
In GT Life, which corresponds to GT Mode in past games, you can check your license class, progress, win/loss, trophies, car received, cars owned, distance driven, and other stats. It's also the place to check in-game messages and a bulletin board populated with comments from other players. In My Lounge, you can set up special events, races, chat modes, and spectator races. You can also compare your stats with your friends, not unlike checking their PSN profiles. There seems to be a strong initiative to create a sense of community in GT5, although I'm terrified at the notion of such polite truisms such as "Fortune favors the brave" and "Do not turn back when you are just at the goal" replaced with "lol 360 sux."
Kazunori's final section of the press briefing described GT5's 3D face tracking. Although he's not interested in immediately supporting PlayStation Move, he has incorporated the PlayStation Eye into the experience. The game can study your face, and if you turn your head in a certain direction, the game knows that you're looking around and moves in kind. Before launching into the press conference trailer, Kazunori laid out some of the visual details regarding lighting effects -- there's a full day/night cycle, you can tap R3 to turn on high beams, there's smoke and dust illumination when you drive at night, collision sparks, and of course, Polyphony has even incorporated the exact same car horn that you'll hear in the real vehicle.
With all of these details, it's no wonder that Gran Turismo 5 has taken so long from announcement to completion. There's a degree of relentless perfectionism permeating every nook and cranny of the project. Calling GT5 a "perfect game" would be a mistake. Painfully detailed and realistic, however, is an accurate description. I expect to see plenty of happy friends when the game finally drops in November.