Why giving names to Gran Turismo 5's AI drivers is genius

SSX Tricky added a lot to the SSX formula, despite being a 1.5 kind of sequel. One of the biggest additions was a visual display before each race of how your opponents feel towards you. The combat may have been difficult to pull off seeing as you're all on a huge mountain and not confined to a thin race track all the time, but every smack counted.

Each AI racer had their own personality too, which made the racing itself way more interesting. Can you imagine how much more sterile the game would have felt with faceless, nameless riders? Yup, I'm certain that's why Gran Turismo has felt so sterile compared to other racers in recent years.

Above: "No friends today. Maybe you need to adjust your attitude"Y'think?

Colin McRae DiRT 2

DiRT 2's AI drivers may have been annoying (especially in the case of Katie Justice), but didn't that make it all the more fun to push them off the track? Sometimes, if I couldn't win a race, I'd find myself doing anything I could to make sure whoever did win was not Katie Justice. I can't explain why, it's just one of those things. And again, like Super Monaco GP before it, that moment of schadenfreude is a delicious morsel of gaming greatness.

Above: Katie flips through the air. Nothing to do with me

And of course, the game's older stablemate, TOCA Race Driver 2, focused on rivalries with other drivers more than any game had done before. But while that game was more narrative-focused than GT will ever be, it just goes to show how much personalitythe addition of names can bring to a sim.

Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights

Juiced 2's rival system is simple, yet great. Before every race, you get to challenge one driver on the grid to a challenge. You can do this by betting on a result, at which point a slider bar comes up with how much you want to bet. The opponent can either refuse, raise or lower the bet. Ramping up any challenge you receive to double and then trouncing them good and proper almost certainly put an extra point on the game's review score.

Above: Stupid Tyrone and his stupid beard. Why not make it $1MILLION?

OK, let's be clear about this. It's unlikely that Gran Turismo 5 will feature a fully-fledged rival system like Hot Import Nights. But if there are any kind of championships in it and any way to tell who's above you in the standings while you're racing, the game will be elevated over any of its predecessors. We can but hope.

09 Jun, 2010