Gran Turismo 5

The second is 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg who is shown in the bucket seat of a Subaru Impreza WRC wrestling with the steering wheel. For all the Gran Turismo series’ brilliance, there’s never been a sense that there’s any personality in the AI – it may as well be Skynet behind the wheel. Our great hope is that GT5 will make the shift in the series’ emphasis, where you’re dicing with individuals rather than faceless AI and, more to the point, competing against digital avatars of the world’s best drivers.

The other huge addition to the series is likely to change the way you drive in Gran Turismo forever. No more ‘leaning’ on other cars to get around a corner or using the barriers to help you carry speed through a hairpin. The addition of damage means attempting unsportsmanlike behaviour will result in a shower of bodywork and, probably, ruined handling or engine output. Car damage is something fans have been asking for since the first instalment, because in a game dedicated to realism the ability to bounce off opponents and scenery with little or no regard for your own safety isn’t what racing is about.

The back end of the demo heavily emphasised crashing, and while damage was only shown where the bodywork on Solberg’s Subaru was mangled and flapping in the breeze, it’s clear that the inevitability of motorsport accidents is something GT5 is taking seriously. The key thing is that rather than just encourage precision, racing is now going to require it, and whether or not this causes online races to turn into crashfests remains to be seen. Hopefully, after Prologue, the community’s requests for private online races will be fulfilled and should counter that problem to a degree.

As a small addition for the British crowd, the demo also marked the debut of the Top Gear Test Track, complete with two snorting Le Mans prototypes. We don’t doubt that one of the first things that British players will do is find the Chevrolet Lacetti and start ragging it around the airfield circuit. Think you’re better than The Stig? There areprobably a fair chunk of other supercars in the game that have pounded the TV show’s track and set a time on the Power Lap board.

Perhaps the best news, though, is the revelation that Gran Turismo 5 could be with us sooner than later. In several interviews during E3, Kazunori Yamauchi implied that the core of the game was finished and content complete, with just the polishing and tweaking to satisfy his notorious perfectionist nature left to do. Yamauchi even went as far as to say the game could be released at any time, which places it tantalisingly close to the disc tray of your PS3. We’ll wager we’ll see GT5 before Christmas – half a year is long enough to fix any flaws and, since Prologue went platinum on preorders, there’s no doubting this game will dominate 2009’s charts.

Jul 22, 2009