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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

LOCH NESS MONSTER SPOTTED On Trial Mountain!!

Look closer at the centre!
While I am a mostly-shameless nerd when it comes to the automotive world, I don't mind admitting there are things I don't know about. However, having played Gran Turismo games since they came out in 1997, I like to pretend I'm something of an expert on it. The problem with knowledge is that there are some things that you don't know you don't know. My point is, how the hell did I not realise that the Loch Ness Monster is an easter egg in the series?!

I suppose the fact that they've added British legends such as TopGear, Silverstone, Brands Hatch and the McLaren F1 GTR Le Mans winner to the series should've been a hint that they might have snuck in another. In actual fact, it (allegedly) first appeared in Gran Turismo 5, hiding here in the little lake at the penultimate corner of series classic Trial Mountain Circuit, an original race track invented by the game's creators. Perhaps they're being deliberately ambiguous by putting Nessy in a fictitious circuit...

PROOF for the non-believers! You cannot argue with hard evidence! You can merely misinterpret it!
Another monster you might have identified in the top picture is the new Toyota FT-1 Concept, added into GT6 the day after it was revealed for real at the Detroit Auto Show. If you haven't yet updated the game to Version 1.03 to get the car added, I must tell you something important before pretend-reviewing how it drives: There's a bug in downloading the update itself that could cause your PS3 system to crash, restart and perform a file check. The way to avoid this is at the screen where it says "An update is required." As soon as it appears, you must choose "Accept" within two seconds of it appearing. I have no idea how or why that works, but trust me, it works. After that you can win the car by lapping Laguna Seca fast enough for a Bronze time or faster. The real show car is in red, but I felt like choosing a different colour, so here it is in blue:


I don't like that in blue the A-pillar is painted silver, but I LOVE the exposed cooling fans.
It's a good thing that I like the way it looks in blue, because - like the BMW M4, which you'll be pleased to hear now has the novel addition of an interior, following the latest update - once you've chosen your paint colour, you can't change it. But what's it like? Quick. There are no official specifications for this Future Toyota, but if you add it to Favourites in the garage and then use the car in Single Player, specs appear, because ultimately they had to give it some in order to simulate it. It apparently has around 500PS (493bhp) and weighs 1320kg. Said power comes from a turbocharged engine that's almost definitely a V6. Some have argued that it sounds like it has a straight-six, but there are two reasons why I argue otherwise: First of all, approximately 10% of the cars in Gran Turismo 6 sound like the real things (seriously PDI, sort it out already). Second of all, that idea is based on the rumors that the next Toyota Supra will be a collaboration with BMW. Alas, it is not, according to WCF. Instead, the last bastion of the straight-six motor car is working with Toyota on the replacement for the BMW Z4, which could use the same carbon fibre and aluminium chassis tech as the new i3 and i8 E-REVs. So forget about that. This is a V6, likely a modified version of the 3.5L lump Toyota uses in a number of models internationally and lends to Lotus for the Evora. That or a new bespoke engine, but that costs a lot more to do. My final argument is that the engine cover (visible through a window on the bonnet) is shorter and wider than an inline-six would ever be.

Frankly I could believe that it has 500 horsepower and a modest weight for a car its size, the latter partly thanks to a lack of hybrid system (woo!). This thing can hang with supercars all day long, but only if you can hold on to it yourself. The rear end can be very snappy coming out of 2nd- and 3rd-gear corners, so be alert. The chassis has a nice balance to it though, but I wouldn't mind a slightly sharper front end at times. The latter point may be down to the pop-up wing working at the back in fast corners, or my opinion has been warped by driving race cars beforehand. One thing I know it needs, though, is a 7th gear. The acceleration is great, but the top speed of somewhere around 175mph arrives all to quickly on some tracks and you're just sitting there on the rev limiter being caught up by cars you can out-drive that have a higher top speed. Another ratio would fix this immediately without changing anything else about it. It's much nicer to drive on Sports Soft tyres, more progressive and with more traction (as you'd expect), but changing boots is the one and only modification you can make to the FT-1. Some are annoyed by this, I just think it limits how many races you can use it in. It served me well in the Ascari 10-Lap Challenge in the S-Licence events, though.

On that note, I managed to complete Career Mode over the weekend when I visited home, and I think it was too easy. The S events aren't a series of mini-championships like the other five tiers, merely a list of single long races with the usual accompaniment of Mission Races and a Drift Challenge in the Coffee Break sidebar. But then, by GT5 standards, they aren't particularly long. We're talking races that are 10 or 15 laps long, or timed to last less than half an hour - the final race is the 24 Minutes of Le Mans, which follows 24-minute races on Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring. On the previous game there were races at La Sarthe and the 'Ring that were 24 hours long, not minutes. This makes me feel a bit short-changed, frankly, by GT6's ultimate final series of events being ten races you could bash out in a long day's playing (I took two days because I had other things to do), five more of the minute-or-less Mission Races and sliding a Blitz Skyline around Madrid. I'm hoping, perhaps optimistically, that true Endurance Races will be added to the game at a later date. Otherwise I'm more or less limited to collecting cars and doing Seasonal Events after owning the game less than a month, a month of which I spent half not even playing it due to being in Wales. In GT5 there were nine different sets of races in S-Class events that took 25-30 minutes per race, and that meant it took a lot longer to do. I know they've made GT6 more accessible to new players (on a console that new players will no longer buy now the PS4 is out! o_0), but the advanced events should still be more of a challenge, if you ask me. Also, I've noticed that The TopGear Test Track and the Ferrari F1 cars are missing from the new game...

While I'm re-reviewing the game, I might as well tell you that there is another bug. It has been discovered that when you're not driving a Toyota FT-1 and can thus adjust your suspension, changing the camber setting makes the handling worse, not better. The problem seems to be that the simulator thinks you're adding positive camber (see left) instead of negative, because the parameter only allows you to increase the positive figure up from zero, despite it being labelled on-screen as a negative one. So while you think that you're "adding negative camber" to angle the tyres in such a way that the car has more of the tyre to lean on when it's turning, the tyre model thinks you're increasing the figure upwards to simulate positive camber. It's like we've only been given half the scale and it's the wrong way round. Toe angle is unaffected as it has 0 in the middle of the scale.

I tested this theory by zeroing the camber on a few of the trickier racing cars, and it did seem to improve grip in the corners. The Audi R8 LMS ultra is borderline driveable now! But still a handful, and actually they've tweaked the MR handling physics a little in the 1.03 update, says them, so that might affect findings there too. Either way, seeing as it also felt true with front-engined cars, I hope they sort this out. It's a bit of an oversight...

In the end, I might have to lower my original rating from 85/100 to just 80, based on how it is now. Hopefully, as updates come over time, the rating will rise to and beyond where it was. Until then, I shall close this post how I usually do: with gratuitous posting of Photo Mode photos!

"Wild Lapras appeared!!"
As well as a monster, there's an equally-pixellated boat with a photographer and a guy pissing. Or two fishermen
Less pixellated is the man waving the chequered flag to signify the end of the Le Mans 24M, and thus Career Mode
I tried a few cars for this event. The R18 was too hard to keep on the grey stuff in the rain, so I tried the Monster Sport SX4 Pikes Peak '11 (a car I've blogged about), which worked great as it has 4WD and, with a Stage 3 turbo, nearly 1200 horsepower... until it went dark and I remembered that the headlights are just stickers. Wandering blindly with the glowing blue Driving Line on, I found out that I could only go 2 laps before running out of fuel as well...
...so in the end, I tried the only other viable car I had, the Sauber-Mercedes C9 that I'd used for the Spa 24M. It worked brilliantly
It's a weapon, this. Somewhere around 970bhp (unmodified), it'll spin the wheels in 4th gear if it's wet, but hit ~230mph in 5th
Surprisingly, it was easier to drive than the R18, simply because the Audi's diesel engine is too spiky in the mid-range. Short-shifting doesn't work at all, because it just puts you right at peak torque and you start to spin! The less-violent but far more potent power of the Mercedes V8TT in the C9 was much nicer, but still required concentration...
...especially as having significantly less downforce than the R18 TDI meant it really flew over some of the Mulsanne's bumps!
The weird thing is that I didn't even notice it was happening at the time, and it must have done it nearly every lap...
I suppose you'd notice if you were actually sitting in the cockpit, even if it's only for a split second at around 220mph
Circuit de la Sarthe - host of Le Mans - has been revamped for GT6, but you'd hardly notice. As this 24-minute race progressed, time also progressed at 60 times the normal speed, so you experienced 24 hours in a fraction of the time, with changeable weather to boot. Top Tip: Start on Intermediate tyres. It rains on lap 1 and there's already a 60% standing water level at the very start, so it'll save you a pit stop. The Sauber managed 3 laps on a tank - just - so I barely saw anyone after lap 2...
The Sauber C9 - winner of the real 1989 Le Mans 24H - is one of a selection of cars that were updated from Standard (upscaled PS2 models from GT4) to Premium (HD) models with a full interior. Others include the Bentley Speed 8 and Lotus Europa
While that's very thoughtful of them, it is also nice to get DLC cars for free immediately after they're revealed in reality
This means that the cars are as relevant as can be, and it opens up opportunities for car makers to use GT6 as a marketing tool
When that means that we get brand new sports cars for free, that's absolutely fine by me!
Who knows how similar the FT-1 will be to the eventual Mk.V Supra? Only Toyota, and even they won't be certain yet.
Hopefully it's proportioned the same
The interior of the FT-1 features not one, but two Head-Up Displays, one on a piece of glass and the other on the steering wheel
It's more important to look at the road when driving this car, though. It demands respect...

The other thing this car demands is speculation, so coy are Toyota when it comes to data about it. Does that engine cover look like it's hiding a straight-six? Not to me.
Insert "tunnel vision" gag. If you're not yet up to speed on the Toyota FT-1, you can read about the real one here
RANDOM MOON BUGGY SHOT FOR NO REASON
For my full(er) review of Gran Turismo 6, click here.

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