Gran Turismo Finally Arrives On The PS4 In The Form of GT Sport
When is Gran Turismo 7 being released for the Playstion 4 people often ask me and the truth is I honestly don’t know but I do now. It isn’t called Gran Turismo, well it is and it isn’t, it’s been renamed GT Sport and it was revealed at a press conference in London yesterday, (19/05/2016). Polyphony Digital booked out a venue at the Olympic Park site in London, it was part conference, part reveal, part showtime.
As one arrived at the Copperbox Arena a suite of supercars were on display outside and a small track had been setup in the car park to give guest and journalists a brief track experience. But what was happening inside the venue was the most important.
The conference was headed by Kazunori Yamauchi the President of Polyphony Digital, legendary game designer and creator of the Gran Turismo racing game series. Gran Turismo is billed as the real racing simulator. It is and it isn’t.
While the Gran Turismo racing series has always provided accurate driving experiences it can never replace the physicality of driving a race car for real. No simulator can. What it does do and always has done is get pretty damn close and look spectacular at the same and that tradition continues with GT Sport.
So GT Sport utilises the power of the Playstation 4 to give high definition visuals and the level of detail captured by Polyphony Digital is breathtaking. Many, many hundreds of hours have gone into making GT Sport look this damn good.
The event allowed invited guests to sample the current build of the game/sim. When it hits the retail and download stores in mid November for European markets the final build should be fine tuned to look even better. The game demo had 20 cars and 6 tracks available.
Having played many countless hours of Gran Turismo in its many other versions Polyphony have still managed to capture a faithful reproduction of handling dynamics. There is still a bit of ‘arcade-play’ and having sampled the Willow Springs course for a good 30 minutes in a Ferrari 458-LM it felt more or less as I recall with past releases.
Like all developers of racing sims Polyphony Digital say that the in-game physics engines have improved. And always for racing sims it’s the AI. You know what? It feels more or less the same as I remember for past iterations, a little fine-tuned, slightly better.
One area that I was hoping for improvement were the sound effects division. The engine notes seem to be digitally re-created as opposed to being digitally sampled. And there appears to be no crash dynamics, for example if you drive off the circuit and hit a wall your car remains pristine as though its just been cleaned. Talking about clean the Rally stages have made a return.
During the press conference Kazunori Yamauchi san spent most of the time explaining the new sub menus such as the social features and Scapes. Scapes is an in-built photography tool that allows the end user to take a digital image of a landscape, upload into GT Sport and integrate a digital rendering of a selected GT Sport car into the photo.
Scapes is able to take the information from a digital photo and ensure that the 3d car is correctly exposed and integrated into the real photo. It is even able to factor in reflections from the surrounding scene. Its so well integrated that you will be hard pressed to tell between reality and virtual reality.
There is also a ‘Livery Editor’ tool that allows the end user to customise and personalise the look a selected car, a Museum Mode… yup, and even a chance for you to earn a real FIA approved e-sport licence.
The main menus are more or less the same but with different monikers, Beginner’s School, Circuit Challenge, Mission Challenge and Racing Etiquette. The Sport mode is the on-line feature which will offer users daily, scheduled events and will prove to be the meat & pie of GT Sport for a majority of gamers.
In summary GT Sport has been scrubbed up to look and perform better on the Playstation 4, some say it is a stop-gap solution for Gran Turismo 7? It may or it maybe not. Yes it looks and feels familiar but GT Sport has never looked as spectacular and that means my mid November schedule will be fully booked.