Evolution of the tree


Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix, Sinclair Spectrum, 1987

Who needs lots of colors? If you can get by with green and black, why bother with anything else? Mansell’s Williams Honda looks superb, with its big fat slicks and massive rear wing. OK, so the back of the car doesn’t angle as you turn, but you couldn’t have everything. Not in 1987, anyway.

OutRun, Arcade, 1986

When 2D ruled the world, arcade games like OutRun were way ahead of home console games like the Spectrum’s. Sprite scaling was rampant and applied not only to the scenery, but to the cars too. Chunky sprites, bold colors and classic car models combine to create something wonderful.

Gran Turismo, PSone, 1998

The racing genre would never be the same again after Gran Turismo. The biggest leap was in the environment mapping that made the cars appear to be reflective. Of course they weren’t – PSone couldn’t do that. It was always the same skinned image, but still. This was the future.

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, PS2, 2001

The environment mapping returned in GT3, only now the tracks were genuinely reflected in the cars’ bodywork. Even though they look a bit chunky today, there’s not much further to go before you can’t make a car look any better. Adding heat haze was just the icing on the cake.

Gran Turismo HD, PS3, 2007

After GT5 surely progress can only come in the track-side scenery. Gran Turismo HD and GT5: Prologue have cars that look so good, it’s genuinely difficult to tell game shots from real cars’ press photos. This is as close as you’re likely to get to owning a garage full of supercars.

Oct 2, 2008