Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Gran Turismo 6 Preview

Gran Turismo 6 15th Anniversary Edition official box art, featuring a Renaultsport Megane V6 Trophy.
The tyre tread looks like a 15!!
OK, so after being sent the Gamespot trailer and going a little crazy for five minutes, here's the actual low-down on Play Station 3's great big send-off, the sixth full game in the series of Sony's most successful gaming franchise, which has sold over 70,000,000 copies. Celebrating their own 15th anniversary, which I've mentioned before, there are many things that have been announced today and it's now time to piece them together, piece by glorious HD piece.

UPDATE: There has recently been a huge amount of new information on GT6, which you can find here.

First of all, Gran Turismo 6 is set to be released on 6th December this year, and seeing as development started almost immediately after GT5, that deadline might actually be met for once. Maybe. Hopefully. It better bloody had...

Secondly, it will feature over 1200 cars, which is a lot. On top of adding around 200 cars, 7 new locations for a total of 19 new circuit layouts both real and fictional will be introduced or re-introduced to the series - including Silverstone, Brands Hatch, the Goodwood Hillclimb, Willow Springs, Apricot Hill (GT original) Matterhorn (GT original, set in the Alps near... the Matterhorn) and a new Track Generator location in AndalucĂ­a - which brings the total to 71 tracks in 33 locations plus however many layouts you make in the Track Generator.

Pagani Huayra '12
It's not just the number of cars in the game though, it's the variety. Gran Turismo has always had a range of cars that spans every market segment and genre worth a damn to anyone who likes cars, as well as cars that push automotive technology forwards (so everything but small crossovers, basically, because what car fan gives a shit about those?). Kei cars, supercars, classic cars, muscle cars, racing cars of all varieties, the occasional big-engined family car, hot hatches, rally cars, off-road cars, concept cars, you name it. New additions to the series include the Pagani Huayra , KTM X-Bow R, LCC Rocket (a real sports car designed by Gordon Murray, powered by a bike engine and, astonishingly, weighing less than 400kg), SRT Viper, Audi S1 Quattro WRC, Chevrolet Corvette C7, AMG SLS GT3, Ford Focus ST, BMW 507 Roadster, Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma (R.I.P). Oh, and probably some Japan-only kei car. Also making an appearance is the 1952 Abarth 1500 Biposto BAT 1 Concept. The first of eleven Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica aero study concepts in the 1950s by Stile Bertone using Italian car makers like Alfa Romeo, this wonderfully weird-looking one-off with its 1500cc four-cylinder engine won the Gran Turismo Award at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours event, which grants it entry into the virtual world. Last year's winner was the also-bonkers Plymouth XNR Concept, so hopefully that appears in GT6 too, at least as DLC. Oh, and this year's winner over the weekend was a 1953 Aston Martin DB3S Sports, which GTPlanet reported on, so I don't have to :-P

But that's not all! If you loved the GTbyCITROEN and Red Bull X1, then you'll love a new project as part of GT's 15th anniversary: Vision Gran Turismo.

Bringing back the original project name for the first GT game on PS3 (delayed like hell, of course, as it morphed into GT HD Concept, then GT5 Prologue and then finally GT5), Vision Gran Turismo is now an entirely different project, in which car manufacturers, design houses and a couple of non-car brands that want in as well all let their design studios go crazy and make concept vehicles that will be recreated in GT6 over the first few months after it comes out, all to be available as DLC as and when they're finished.

The list of brands is as follows:

Alfa Romeo
Aston Martin
GM Design
Italdesign Giugiaro
SRT (Chrysler)

That's an impressive 18 companies all hoping to capture your imagination, add something wild to your gaming experience and, they hope, promote their brand to you (Nissan vs Infiniti will be interesting, since they're technically one and the same, albeit with different design studios). You can see sketches and teasers in the video I've already posted, but aside from one or two names we don't really have anything much to go on. That's good though. Knowing too much ahead of time ruins it. But does divulge a little bit more about some of them. All the cars' names will be suffixed with "Vision Gran Turismo". Alfa Romeo have already revealed that theirs will be called the 6C Biposto [Vision GT], and will be designed by the team that brought us the gorgeous 4C flyweight sports car and who have this time been tasked to pay tribute to "an iconic 1930s model" in their otherwise futuristic concept car. BMW will make a unique M car capturing the spirit of the Real Driving Simulator, Mercedes-Benz will follow suit with a similarly-inspired AMG, VW will make a futuristic Golf GTI of some kind, and Nike (who brought us the crazy human spirit-powered Nike One in Gran Turismo 4) will bring us a Nike TWO. The logo in the video makes it look like a monowheel. I pray this is true.

As these crazy concepts appear, you'll definitely be able to share their challenging beauty. Photo Mode isn't going anywhere, with new beauty spot locations including Gemasolar, a Spanish powerplant that gathers energy from the sun (or "solar farm"), Duomo Square in Siracusa in Sicily, "The City of Arts and Sciences" in Valencia and Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge, which is a really old bridge in the Spanish city of Ronda. Looks like the Spanish tourist board is getting creative...
You might have spotted something at this point. Aside from Vision GT, each feature so far is essentially a feature from GT5 with something added to it. New cars of which some are merely updated to Premium Models, more locations, tracks, etc. It would thus be easy to assume that GT6 is just a game we already have with some kind of massive DLC package glued on.

But you'd be wrong.

I mean yes, they did start the development of GT6 with GT5. Understandable seeing as they'd just finished it. But the upgrades go far beyond added content and some cool collaborations with major brands. The graphics have been completely overhauled with a new HDR rendering engine that gives an HDR dynamic range 50 times greater than in GT5, and "adaptive tessellation" in which the polygons divide up and get finer the closer you zoom in to maintain the highest possible level of detail even when up close or far away. So they've don all they can to give even more realistic surfacing, light reflections and details that will continue on Gran Turismo's famous ability to completely blow your mind with how lifelike the cars and locations look. What's more, as the GTAcademy 2013 Demo (which is "Powered by Gran Turismo 6") proved, niggling errors like jagged edges where tyre smoke meets car have been sorted out. Jagged shadows are another thing being fixed, I'd imagine, given the widespread criticism by graphics nerds.

The driving physics, which are obviously of paramount importance in a game that's billed itself as The Real Driving Simulator for 15 years, have been entirely reworked as well. They say the following about it:

> Load changes of the car, changes in vehicle attitude, relationship of the surface and the tyres are even more real now, and players familiar to the game will immediately feel the new depth in drive feel the first time they turn the steering wheel.

> With the help of our technical partner, the Yokohama Rubber, a new tyre model has been introduced that reflects the tyre compound, tyre structure, and changes in characteristics under extreme load conditions.

> In collaboration with German suspension manufacturer KW Automotive: the precision and reality of the model representing shock absorbers which governs the drive feel of cars, has improved significantly.

> The down force, lift and air resistance – which continually changes according to the shape of the car – changes in vehicle attitude and its relationship with the ground surface, have all been recreated to a level of precision never seen before. Keen players will probably start to feel the airflow around the car as they drive.

When playing the GTAcademy Demo, I have to say I felt that difference made in the first point. As you fired the tuned 370Z out of Abbey and into the second corner, with a good steering wheel you can feel the car load up as you increase the steering through the sweeping left-hander with your right foot hard down. I won't pretend I noticed it "the first time I turned the wheel" but I did nevertheless notice it without trying to discern anything, just as I was chasing tenths and kidding myself that I might actually have a chance at winning GT Academy this time...

Abarth 1500 Biposto BAT 1 Concept '52
So basically, once you've played the finished game, you're probably not going to bother with GT5 again. Online racing will be much the same, not least because Polyphony Digital reckon they've made it everything their current game's online component can't be, and they've done so mostly based on user feedback. Players can now tailor their online events more closely to how they actually use them, including adding qualifying events (currently you just freely set laps in the lobby if you feel like it until the race is started, and that helps decide the grid), Time Trial events Drift Trial events and so on. You can also save "rooms" in a way sort of similar to a real car's seat memory function. Then you can just load up the exact game mode you want to do, change it where necessary and go! They hint at a lot more to come, but you can't admit everything ahead of time.

Seeing as it's related to online play (sort of), let's go back to the DLC for a second. Polyphony promise that not only will there be many cars and some tracks added after release even outside of Vision Gran Turismo, but this time the added cars will appear directly in the in-game dealerships after an update, and will be available to purchase in-game rather than with your human Earth Money. You will thus "be able to enjoy driving the newest cars right after they are released in the market". This is a bold move that may win fans over who could still swing towards Forza 5, as DLC costs quite a lot for Forza games and there's a lot of it to pay for after a while (and once you've bought it all there will probably be an Ultimate Edition with all of it pre-installed for free or something).

Speaking of ultimate editions, the game will be available on 6th December, and if not then definitely before Christmas, says Sony. So there. If you have all the delays before announcing a date, it's easier to stick to it, I suppose. But there's going to be an Anniversary Edition (pictured up top) with 20 Anniversary Editions of cars that are in GT6 anyway, all with light engine upgrades and finished in blue with black wheels and the '15' tyre tread stripe seen on the box. You can even get 5 more if you pre-order from the right place! This is similar to the Chrome Line cars in the GT5 Collector's Edition.

One thing they haven't mentioned anything about is the engine sounds. This has always been an Achilles heel for Gran Turismo, as some cars sound about right and others have V8s sounding like 4-cylinder engines or a looping sample that painfully reveals itself when you're nearing your top speed and the revs are staying about level in something like the awesome Mazda 787B. The cars I drove in the special demos at the Goodwood Festival of Speed - one of which bagged me a go in a real-life Ford Fiesta ST - sounded better, especially cars that were new to the game, as ones like the Ford GT that are already in GT5 are essentially being carried over and subjected to the new physics and rendering engines to save A LOT of time and effort. What I do have to say though is that they easily looked even better. The graphics were crisper, clearer and even more believable. It's enough to make me wish I had a better HDTV at home! Over time it'll be another long and winding trip through Uncanny Valley, I suspect.

So that's more or less what we know now, and if I've missed anything then it's on their official website. Frankly, me buying this game is a given, but now I'm getting pretty excited about it!

1 comment:

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