After a gestation so lengthy that Axl Rose was quoted as saying “What the hell is taking Kazunori and crew so long?”, Gran Turismo 5 finally arrived in November of 2010. And while it was without question a tremendous game with gorgeous graphics and a mammoth car list, it felt, in many respects, rushed. Hard to believe when you consider it came out almost six years after Gran Turismo 4, but things like a new-but-half-baked damage model, continued use of angry appliance exhaust sounds, woeful under-utilizations of the WRC, NASCAR and Top Gear licenses and, perhaps most aggravating of all, many times more “Standard Cars” (i.e. models ported from GT4 and the Gran Turismo title for the PSP) than “Premium Cars” (i.e. brand new car models built from many thousands more polygons and featuring fully-modeled interiors) left many longtime fans of the franchise feeling underwhelmed, if not out-and-out cheated.
So you can imagine our skepticism when we heard rumors that the father of Gran Turismo, Kazunori Yamauchi, and his team at Polyphony Digital would not only be revealing Gran Turismo 6 sooner rather than later, but also bring it to market by the end of the 2013 calendar year. Well, following a massive press event (which also served to celebrate the series’ 15th anniversary) at England’s Silverstone Circuit earlier today, we can report there’s more than a little truth to those rumors. More than a little truth, and some gorgeous, gorgeous visuals.
As you can see in these screenshots and the videos below, the graphics do look to be a step up from those of GT5, which were themselves knocking on the door of real life. This is quite remarkable given that GT6 will be a Playstation 3 title. That’s right, kids, even though the Playstation 4 is also coming out later this year, GT6 will stick with the tradition of having two full-fledged GT games on each generation of Sony’s game console. And while there are already plenty of sourpusses complaining that this new game should be on a new console, designing it around the PS3 ensures many more potential buyers thanks to a larger install base, and allowing the development team to work with a familiar platform and optimize the game for it.
But despite using said familiar platform, Yamauchi and team decided to scrap the GT5 engine and start over. According to Yamauchi, the new engine not only makes better use of the PS3’s capabilities, but it’s also less cumbersome and is more future-proof. Additionally, Polyphony Digital enlisted the help of Yokohama Rubber and KW Automotive for developing more authentic tire and suspension modeling, respectively.
That’s what’s happening under the hood, but what’s some of the new stuff you can actually see? Well, both the car and track lists will grow noticeably. Some of the new or updated rides revealed today include the KTM X-Bow R, Ferrari Dino 246 GT, Audi Sport quattro S1 rally car and Tesla Model S. All told, Yamauchi says we can expect more than 1,200 vehicles to ship with the game, and most will be customizable with wheels and aero parts; however, there’s no word how many (if any) of those will be a) Standard Cars, b) near-as-makes-no-difference duplicates (e.g. Japanese, European and U.S. versions of the Honda S2000), or c) both. There’s also no word on what exactly “Players can create their own personalized custom car in the game” means. (Could it be a Forza-esque livery editor?)
In terms of tracks, the claimed number is 71 course layouts spread out over 33 locations, with Silverstone being one of the seven new locations. And apparently we can expect the car and track tallies to grow through routinely-released downloadable content (DLC) packs, though you can create new tracks any time through a more capable and robust “Course Maker” feature.
As for the gameplay itself, we’re told the user interface will be simplified and streamlined (a welcome relief from the busy, patchwork quilt “GT Home” menu in GT5) and that loading times will be shortened. And the online community aspect will be even more refined, allowing users to create clubs and groups as well as setup their own online events and championships. And when you don’t have access to your PS3, you’ll still be able to interact with GT6 through your computer and apps for your smartphone or tablet. Very cool, but also very ambitious; we’re anxious to see how much of it makes it into the final product.
Yamauchi-san says he will be releasing more information at E3 next month, as well as Gamescon and the Tokyo Game Show in the fall. Rest assured we will be reporting on all the new tidbits as they emerge. After all, we’re just as interested as you are.