Sunday, 17 November 2013

Gran Turismo 6 Will Be Out Of This World

I've already done a preview for the Playstation 3's last hurrah, Gran Turismo 6, which is definitely being posted to my house on 6th December this year. But since that post, there has been another video and a healthy chunk of new information. So here's GT6 Preview Part II!

Usually in the lead up to a new Gran Turismo, there will be one video they release that will get me truly excited about the game and wish I could just skip a month of the year out entirely to shorten the wait. That's why I'm glad they've done six teaser trailers - or Concept Movies as they've latterly become known - and it's this final one that's really done it. It made me genuinely and deeply happy and excited in a way I rarely experience. Maybe the fact that Gran Turismo has been a part of 15 of my 21 years means that it takes me back to a happier time in my life. Maybe it's the way the animation makes the cars seem dynamic, exciting and characterful in a particular way that only Gran Turismo does. Maybe it's the rousing (if otherwise generic) rock music, or even just that little snippet at the end which also gave me the title for this post. Maybe it's all of those things. Or none. Or some of them. One thing it definitely was the first time I watched it was the cars themselves. It's just one "OMG!" moment after another! Classic Ferraris, rare concepts from history, exciting new cars for all kinds of car fan (from Audi R18 to Tesla Model S), straight-up car porn like the Aston Martin One-77 and Pagani Huayra, or car nerd magnets like the Ueno Clinic-sponsored McLaren F1 GTR '95, i.e. the car that won the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours and the last GT-class car to win outright, possibly ever. Or the Audi Quattro Group B. Or Monster Tajima's electric Pikes Peak Hillclimb car (his 2011 car that got the first ever sub-10:00 time on the mountain is also included). And then to finish... THE FREAKIN' MOON BUGGY!! My mind was in smithereens!

Anyway, as well as the Concept Videos, there has been a burst of new information regarding content, so settle down and prepare yourself, because some of it's pretty epic.

Plymouth XNR Ghia Roadster Concept '60
1196 Cars (at launch)

You can read the full list here. The first 123 are cars new to the series, while the rest are from GT5 (Fun Fact: there are now 64 Nissan GT-Rs of various ages and types - four of them new - plus 16 other Skylines too). Some of the new additions are cars that have been upgraded from Standard Model to Premium Model cars, such as the Alpine A110, Bugatti Veyron and Cizeta V16-T, while most are properly new. On that note, yes, there are still a lot of Standard Model cars in the game, which are essentially up-scaled cars from GT4, but all of them will now have the same rights as Premium cars (in GT5 they only have basic body mods and couldn't be used in Photo Travel) and have "simplified interior views." That presumably means you won't be surrounded by blackness if you use the cockpit view in one anymore. They also appear in the regular dealership instead of some of them appearing at random in a used car dealership. In fact, the dealership will now have a "Featured" section that filters out the cars you might need for certain Career Mode events, just in case you don't really have a car in mind already. I invariably will.

Interestingly, the Nissan DeltaWing (that phallic Batmobile thing from Le Mans last year) was originally on the list, and can be seen in one or two of the videos, but since the car list was released, it's mysteriously disappeared. Apparently this is because of some disagreement with copyright or something. Hopefully this is resolved as the real one was a real fan favourite at the races it entered last year. What's more, I've actually driven the DeltaWing in a demo at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so it's a fully finished car. It would be a shame if they had to throw their work away after letting a selection of us experience the pain and frustration of thinking you're pointing the narrow nose in the right direction and then catching the much-wider rear axle on the inside wall and spinning/crashing. If they do sort it out, that will be car 1197, with more on the way as potentially-free DLC over the coming months, plus of course the Vision Gran Turismo cars, which promise to be at least as wild as the famous GTbyCITROEN concept of 2008. For 178 other pictures of some of them, click here.

Speaking of which, the first Vision Gran Turismo car to be released into the game will be the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept. MB have teased the AMG VGT for GT6 (on PS3!) in this YTV:

As you can see it looks pretty wild... and apart from the grille, it doesn't really look like a Mercedes. I love that the design studios are being given free reign to express themselves and make the most awesome and out-there sports car they can think of - and they probably love it too - but there should still be at least something of their current design language in it. Mind you, I'm mostly saying that having only seen a wheel, scuttle panel and the strange rear end with its eight exhausts and single light strip like a Porsche designed for Tron 3. I suppose the grille is all they really need for brand identity, although the KITT lights are an interesting touch...

...and as I'm writing this, a magazine scan from Mercedes-Benz Passion Blog has been leaked, showing the rear three quarter view!

It's like an SLS from the future!!
Yeah OK, that looks pretty damn good. There's almost no wheel clearance, but then it's designed for a video game, so I guess in a way it barely needs any. Just as long as the game physics doesn't let the top of the wheel appear through the top of the wheel arches. That would be bad.


...and while I was asleep, it was officially unveiled!

Interesting that they didn't use the game's GT logo and made up their own...
Good thing there are no speed bumps in GT6...
One tailpipe per cylinder, plus a pop-up wing that's probably (hopefully) also an airbrake
From this angle it looks like the enormous wheels are actually part of the bodywork. That'll look cool in replays when they're spinning
Those rectangles on the grille light up, just for funsies
Virtual power for this rather dramatic-looking supercar (shown here as a 1:1 scale model for photography/motor show purposes) comes from a virtual 5.5L V8 BiTurbo, which makes 585PS at unspecified revs and 590lb/ft at 2000-4500rpm. It's almost definitely rear-wheel-drive and apparently has gullwing doors, although whether they'll ever actually be opened is another question. Those doors are attached to an "aluminium spaceframe body with [unspecified] components in carbon fibre" that allows for a weight of 1385kg - pretty light for a Mercedes - and a power/weight ratio of 417bhp/tonne, which puts its performance somewhere near a Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C. You can read more of the press bumf here. I like how the soft curves and special silver paint make it look like liquid metal.

...And three days after I posted this post, a video of it appeared! You can find it on their official website here as it won't embed for some reason.

But the cars are only part of the game, of course.

100 Tracks In 37 Locations (Plus Anything You Want)

As well as all the tracks from Gran Turismo 5 - including the Nürburgring, which the upcoming XBone rival Forza Motorsport 5 rather conspicuously doesn't have - there are seven new locations added to the game at launch. At last, there are proper British circuits in the game in the iconic forms of Brands Hatch and Silverstone, which join the TopGear Test Track and a tight little London street circuit. But there's more! You also get the Ascari Race Resort, a 5.4km circuit in a holiday resort in Spain that borrows from every great race track around the world. TopGear viewers will recognise it from the C63 AMG vs M3 vs RS4 test and one or two of their Christmas DVDs. Speaking of great race tracks from around the world, the famous Australian track Mount Panorama is included, although you may know it better as "Bathurst". Of all the tracks in Oz, this is the one famous for Skyline domination in the early 1990s, so it's of little surprise that it appears in Gran Turismo! From the USA, we get Willow Springs, a fast curvy circuit from California that's nearly 60 years old and has some nice elevation change. Again, TopGear viewers will recognise this as the place where an SRT Viper, Aston Martin Vanquish and Lexus LFA were annihilated in a game of Laser Tag by some daring fighter planes. Then, of course, there is the inclusion of the Goodwood Hillclimb Course, site of one of my greatest gaming/automotive triumphs this July when I won both a drive in a Ford Fiesta ST up the course and an Alfa Romeo teddy bear. When you unlock a multi-million-pound classic like the Ferrari 250 GTO or an oddball concept like the Mazda RX500 or Plymouth XNR, this is the place to take it. Plus you can do what the real Formula 1 drivers that go each year aren't allowed to do anymore and do timed runs in F1 cars, as the Ferrari F10 and championship-winning F2007 carry over from GT5. Can you beat 41.6 seconds? I warn you, it's a much harder track than it looks, simply because it's so narrow and bumpy.

As well as real-life tracks, there are of course some original courses, as there always have been. Apricot Hill returns to the series after being absent from GT5, with revamped surroundings like they did to High Speed Ring. This is a good track, fast and sweeping but technical in places and full of smooth elevation change, including a pit straight that could've inspired the designers of Circuit Of The Americas, which will echo to the sound of 22 screaming V8s for the final time this evening as Vettel runs off and scores his millionth win. Neither of those are the one pictured, however. That's called Matterhorn, and in the spirit of GT4's El Capitan, the twisty mountain road overlooks the, er, Matterhorn. If it weren't for the inevitable invisible walls, one wrong move here could see you falling for days. This will look absolutely spectacular in replays, and because the road is "wide enough for overtaking", it should be fun to race on too. However, the most interesting track of all might well be Gran Turismo Arena. This stadium circuit reminiscent of Race Of Champions venues is small and full of corners, like a go-kart track, and vaguely resembles the letters "GT". But this quote could spell all kinds of fun, particularly for online events:

"You can also remove the cornerstones and corner barriers to set up a variety of attractions using cones."

So that potentially means you can set up Autocross events using cone courses. Certainly, during "Coffee Break" events - little challenges to do between the full-on events during Career Mode - there is a challenge to run over 300 cones as quickly as possible in an MX-5, which ought to be fun. If we can make our own events like this, that would be totally awesome!

So those are the tracks that will be in the game, and you can see more of them here (along with the added Photo Travel locations, where you might even be able to use multiple cars this time). But there's more.

The Course Maker from GT5 is being revamped and will appear in an update, because it's either that or delay the game. The latter approach did not give GT5 a great reputation...

Also to be added in later is quite possibly the greatest feature of all. Another quote from their website:

"Additionally, in another update we will add the possibility to generate a track by capturing the GPS coordinate data of a mobile app while you are driving that course. This GPS-generated tracks will be available in the game as playable content."

So let me get this straight. Eventually there will be an app for GPS-capable phones (i.e. any good smartphone) that will allow us to record our location and elevation as we drive around, load that data onto the game somehow and drive where we've driven? Ho. Lee. Crap.

Think about it. That means you can record your favourite driving roads or your commute route, or a track near you that you wish was in the game, and put it in the game. You could see how long it takes to drive an F1 car to work! You could take a Ferrari FXX around Tesco car park! You could go on holiday to Europe and record Route Napoleon, Stelvio Pass and Transfargarasan Highway! But let's not get too carried away. Obviously it's very unlikely that it will know and then render the surroundings, so it'll probably be surrounded by green or something. I think you'll have to load it into the Course Maker (thus using one of the basic backdrops it has), so potentially you can add camber and such to the road to more accurately reflect the real one, but it won't be that accurate going by GT5's camber settings that made all the corners in a given sector have the same camber setting. So it won't be exactly the same, but the route itself will be, and that ought to be cool.

Astronomical Accuracy Whatever The Weather

In GT5 a few of the tracks - mostly ones that host endurance races in reality - had changing time and/or weather. This meant that for the Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 Hour races, the sun actually rose and set in real time, with the sky fading gradually and everything, while the weather was susceptible to change as well. Let me tell you, you haven't played GT5 until you're on a wet Nordschleife at night in a racing car. This has been ramped up for GT6, as you'd probably expect by now. It's now the majority of tracks that have changeable time and weather, but they've gone further and accurately mapped the stars in the sky as well. As the sun sets, the stars appear in position as they would in reality wherever you might be. So it'll look different at Le Mans to how it will at say Daytona Speedway, a track which can now be raced at night (perhaps the Rolex 24 race will be in Career Mode?), and they move across the sky as time progresses. The Polyphony Digital team this year used "thorough data capturing and GPS surveying" to accurately recreate the sunrise/set at the Le Mans 24H, Nürburgring 24H and Goodwood FOS. Good thing it was a sunny summer, then...

Expanded Modifications, Proper Damage... With Consequences

One time-old quirk of Gran Turismo has been that while the driving was as realistic as technology allowed, the crashes most certainly were not. The cars were invincible right up until GT5, and even then it was only the Premium Model cars that damaged, and they could take a greater pounding than Rocky's face. You could bash body parts off, but frankly it took commitment to the cause and you were better off trying it with a rally car, as they broke more. Mechanical damage didn't happen in races at all. Well, guess what? That new feature has been revamped and essentially finished off properly for GT6. Or so it seems. In Career Mode, if you go driving like a maniac and bash up your car, you'll have to open up your wallet afterwards and fix it. There's also two-stage restoration of body rigidity, probably because full restoration can get rather expensive. If your body is still straight, why not repaint it? You seemingly no longer have to collect paint chips to then use for a fee, instead being given a range of colours straight away and getting a preview (!) of what it will look like on your actual car. The same is true for aftermarket wheels, and on that note the tuning shop has been tuned itself, now adding the novel concept of brake modifications. Fancy that! Suspension upgrades are now modeled by real suspension company KW Automotive and it seems only the full racing system is adjustable, but there is now "rally suspension" available. Exterior modifications now allow for body kits, flat floors including a diffuser, plus the usual wings and wheels. Plus a section called "Other." The mind races. Also, nitrous oxide is back!! The upgrade first seen in GT4 is apparently making a welcome return. Maybe they'll also have KERS for cars that are so-equipped? Who knows...

Oh, and you can now buy Racing Gear - helmets and race suits - instead of being given random ones by signing into online and doing Seasonal Events.

Miscellaneous Titbits

Career mode will have a different menu layout. I'm a little saddened that they haven't gone back to the huge map system they had in the first four GT games, but this looks fairly straightforward to navigate, as was GT5's system where everything was crammed onto one screen. Given that most players tend to sink a good 100 hours into it, the layout soon became easy. It's better ordered in GT6, though.

If you want to trim the fat from your garage but worry that you might need that car again, you can move it to the "Stockyard" so that you only have the cars you use frequently in the main garage. This will become useful when you're far into the game and have lots of prize cars and stuff you aren't all that bothered about but don't want/need to sell.

As well as the usual disc-based format, the full game will be available as a 15GB digital download from the PSN Store (or whatever they call it now). Once the files have been opened up and installed however, it'll take up around 30GB of your hard drive. What's more if you're really impatient and don't want to grind for more money for more cars, you can simply buy money! In-game credits will be available in Cr.500,000, Cr.1 million, Cr.2.5 million and Cr. 7 million denominations, similar to iTunes credit or whatever else you can buy gift cards for these days. Prices are yet to be revealed. So that means you can spend real money on unlocking all your favourite cars straight away, thereby leaving nothing to aim for and taking away a huge part of your gaming experience.

Some content of some kind relating to Ayrton Senna will be in the game, most likely through updates. Brazilian news website Globo state that you can play as him in the game (or at least get his Racing Gear), and be able to "trace the routes of Senna's career." This has sparked rumours that the Interlagos Circuit in São Paolo - where the routes of Senna's career started - will also be in the game. There will also be a special Senna Edition PS3/GT6 bundle on sale exclusively in Brazil.

Finally, as I mentioned in Preview Part 1, online has been overhauled, giving players more freedom to do the stuff they actually do with Online Mode, as well as make proper clubs. The driving physics have also been completely overhauled, with suspension modeled in conjunction with KW Automotive and their 7-post testing rig, tyres modeled using comprehensive analysis in conjunction with Yokohama Tyres to give much more accurate grip simulation, and aerodynamics simulated with proper CFD. The graphics are also vastly modified, with "Adaptive Tessellation" that changes the number of polygons in the car model according to how close the camera is and a new rendering engine with an HDR range 50 times greater than in GT5, giving a much wider range of light levels and avoiding overexposure or blacked-out shadows.

Audi S1 Quattro Group B in an unusual place to find it: a straight line on tarmac
So now you know. This game is going to be everything GT5 wasn't, or didn't quite manage to be. If some of these features live up to their potential, this could be the greatest, most immersive racing game on sale by a country mile, and that's exactly what a Gran Turismo game should be. In fact, this may even be the greatest in the series. I cannot wait.

But I have to, because it's being released in December, so I won't get it until Christmas. Boo!

UPDATE: It has of course been over a month now since GT6 was released, and I've been playing it. A lot. You can read my review here.

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