GC 09: Gran Turismo 5

Playable it was though, albeit a very particularly stingy demo with just a single car and track to try. But it did give us a sneaky peak, for the first time, at actual car damage in a Gran Turismo game.

The course we played is a new track set in Tokyo (Tokyo R246 it said, although we think that's probably a placeholder name). It starts off in densely urban city street before branching out into a visually pleasing rural area, with trees lining the track casting gorgeous shadows down on the tarmac and shiny cars - which all looks as brilliant-clean as they did in GT5P.

Of course, the first thing we did was take out shiny motor - the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRC - and slam it into the nearest wall just to see what would happen. Not a lot, is the disappointing answer.

Considering creator Kazunori Yamauchi's constantly touted commitment to realism, we were expecting a pretty drastic reaction from the car - scrapped-off paint, realistic dents, shards of metal sent flying. Need for Speed: Shift, basically.

Instead what we got was little more than the familiar GT thud, and were hard pressed to see the damage we'd caused. The bodywork was slightly bent out of shape, but nothing major considering the near 200kph impact.

We did, however, manage to get bumpers hanging off, doors swinging open and even got the bonnet to fly open. Dents covered the car, but again they were way too smooth - there's just not enough paint damage in there. Hopefully there'll be an option to set how sensitive your car is to crashing.

After a few solid shunts our car was struggling to get over 140kph, so we'd clearly caused technical damage too. A Sony rep also told us that crashing too much could result in terminal damage ending our race early, which is great because that'll stop those cheating twits from bouncing off walls to get faster lap times.

Talking of bouncing off walls, we managed to wreck a few tyre walls and bollards too, sending them flying onto the track, which was another fun first for GT.

Having a poke around on the main menu, nothing else was playable, but we saw the expected GT Mode which, in the full game, will no doubt be where the meat of the game lies. Further along was a Theatre mode, where we guess you'll be able to watch and possibly edit replays. A Status option too, we guess, will let you track your driver stats and the like. Again, nothing was selectable.

And that was pretty much it - it's Gran Turismo with mild damage. Obviously it looks and plays as you'd expect from Gran Tursimo; silky smooth and a real sense of weight on the cars as you throw them into bends.

But what make GT stand out are the billions of customisable options and technical upgrades the series lets you do to your cars, and that's sadly something Sony's still not ready to show.

And as we leave the stand a fellow Euro journalist approaches. "Is this GT5?" He asks. We nod.

FIVE, not Prologue? F**K," he added, before plonking his happy rear down to play. Sony, you clearly didn't shout too loudly about your flagship racer, did you?