The wait is almost over. I thought I’d lead with a joke. Seriously, though, Gran Turismo 5, after an incredibly long wait, is finally almost done. To prove it Kazumoru Yamauchi took us through his baby in an extensive preview at the Sony breakout. The build Mr. Yamauchi showed us is a near-final build of the game, but he promises the final build will be available and Gamescom in August.
The focus of this presentation was on the premium cars. We were told there would be over 1000 cars total in the game, 200 of which are premium cars, and while the 800 cars are primarily the old cars of previous GT games, the 200 premium cars are all brand new to the series. All cars will have dirt, scratches, and dents, but only the premium cars will have fully modeled interiors, separation of panels, and deformation. The level of detail displayed was frankly, ridiculous. They fully modeled not only every interior, but every wheel, muffler, cord, dashboard detail, belt buckle, wheel texture and the entire bottom of the vehicle (to make sure it was accurate when flipped).
Among the new cars, we were given some information on the inclusion of NASCAR for the first time in GT history. There are currently 9 different types of cars featured, and a few more to be added later. Of course, this being Gran Turismo, full rulesets and tracks for NASCAR are present, and the cars can race on non-NASCAR tracks. Unfortunately, the game can’t support 43 car races, as this was a bit too much for the time they had to complete it.
Some of the new locations shown to us were Madrid, Tuscany, Rome, and Top Gear. Madrid takes place in a gorgeous, sprawling part of the city full of incredible architecture, while Tuscany is a wide open vista in the beautiful Tuscan country side. Track variety is key, and Gran Turismo 5 won’t disappoint. Perhaps, the most impressive of the new tracks though was the Nürburg track, home of the famous 24 hour race (which can be played in its entirety in real time in the game, if you wish).The Nürburg track is famous for its graffiti, which covers its surface, and is constantly having more added. Gran Turismo 5 will actually recreate all that graffiti, word for word, on the track (with a couple extreme profanity exceptions).
All these painstakingly authentic environments and vehicles deserve to be viewable in as many ways as possible, and Gran Turismo 5 will give you another such opportunity in photo mode. In addition to the racing photo mode which allows you to take pictures of cars on the tracks, GT5 also features a new photo travel mode, which allows you to actually walk around certain locations in the game, exploring both their detail on foot and taking pictures of your car in the static environments. We were shown the region of Gion in Kyoto (a location you may recognize from the Prologue) on a beautiful night with sakura blossoms blowing in the breeze. While taking pictures you’ll have a full set of lens and camera options such as shutter speed and focus if you wish to adjust them.
Of course, Gran Turismo is nothing without a way to show off your skills and cars to your friends, and the new online home for GT5 is here to help with that. Now while in your home and your lounge and you quickly and easily watch the races your friends are in, jump in, and communicate through them through voice and text chat, which they can receive while racing if they wish. You can also jump into the lounge of any of your friends, and see updates on their progress in their career at any time. Your own completion and trophy information is displayed in this area as well.
As Mr. Yamauchi wrapped up our demo, he highlighted some of the graphical effects which, while seemingly small, make a huge difference in the realism of the game. The first of these was the presence of day and night transitions, and everything in between. If you thought Tuscany looked gorgeous before, you should see it in the twilight. We were also shown the ability to switch between high and low beam headlights, collision sparks, kicking up debris, and perhaps the most impressive, true dynamic smoke illumination. The smoke and debris kicked up behind your car is illuminated by every light source in the game, including your own taillights and the headlights of the vehicles behind you.
Thus ended our extensive look at the nearly complete, and visually stunning, Gran Turismo 5. It’s hard to imagine much more detail could possibly go into the modeling of this game. We would have also gotten to check out the head tracking combined with the stereoscopic 3D, but unfortunately the display at the Sony booth was down when we attended. You can expect Gran Turismo 5 to finally hit shelves this year, on November 2nd, and it looks like it really is worth the wait.