TGS '07: [UPDATE] Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Updated Hands-On

Kazunori Yamauchi takes us on a guided tour of Polyphony Digital's upcoming driving game.

by

TOKYO--Last month we wrote at length about the playable builds of Polyphony Digital's upcoming Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which was being shown in a couple of different forms on the show floor at the 2007 Leipzig Games Convention. Here we are, just a few weeks later, this time in Tokyo for the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, and we're pleased to report that we played an even-newer version of the game. This one shows off many of the features that series creator Kazunori Yamauchi introduced in Leipzig.

As in Germany, Prologue came in a couple of different flavors on the show floor at TGS 2007. Attendees could play the game either seated in a racing seat similar to the ones featured in Leipzig, or standing up with the Sixaxis controller. Unfortunately, Prologue isn't being shown off with the just-announced, rumble-enabled Dual Shock 3, but we're hoping we get a chance to play the game with the updated controller very soon.

Our first stop on the Prologue tour was to check out the racing-cabinet version. Once again we packed ourselves into the too-tight frame and began diving through the menu system. On the surface, everything is the same as it was back in the Leipzig version of the game. The front end of Prologue still features the revamped menu screen that we're slowly becoming accustomed to. The difference is that many of the features that were disabled in Leipzig were working this time around, including the "dealer" menu option, as well as the new "TV" feature.

Though the TGS version of Prologue features 22 cars, many of which were playable in the Leipzig build, the dealer menu option will give you a bit more information on the cars available to you. Dealerships found under this menu item include Nissan, Suzuki, Lotus, Daihatsu, TVR, Ford, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Acura, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Lancia, Dodge, Audi, and Ferrari. We went to Nissan first, and were presented with gorgeous, full-res models of a GTR-Proto 5 and a Skyline GTR V-Spec 97. The bottom row of this screen included additional items for Nissan models, including channel, test drive, news, and catalog. Selecting the channel option brings up some video choices featuring Nissan-model cars.

That video content seems to tie nicely into the main menu's TV option, which, as Yamauchi explained during his GT 5 Prologue presentation in Leipzig, will be a hub of sorts for a variety of different automobile and motorsports videos. When we brought up the option in the demo version of the game, we saw clips from the D1 Grand Prix drifting series, a Super GT highlights video, and multiple episodes of Best MOTOring, presumably a local Japanese automobile show, among many others. It isn't known yet whether this will be representative of the type of content to be featured in the full version of the game. It also isn't clear what kind of content will be available in the U.S. as compared to Japan or Europe. (Here's hoping we get episodes of Top Gear, though.) Still, it's nice to see the TV feature coming along after hearing about it for the first time just recently.

So with the extra goodies out of the way, let's talk about the track action. Another surprise awaited us in this updated version of Prologue: new tracks. In addition to Suzuka, which we'd played in Leipzig, the TGS build of the game featured another Japanese track, Fuji Speedway, as well as an American favorite, the Super Speedway at Daytona. We tried the former in one of the racing cabinets and had a ball tackling the tight corner and long, long front straight in the Ferrari F430, which quickly emerged as one of our favorite rides in the game. The rear and side mirrors, which were looking pretty rough back in Leipzig, are much better-looking this time around; you could actually make out individual cars in the reflection, which is progress. However, there's still work to be done animation-wise, because the in-car view still doesn't show the driver's hands moving when changing gears.

At the Daytona course, we moved to the version of the game using the regular controller. The actual racing on the oval was about as exciting as continuously turning left usually is, which is to say: not much. Things really got interesting only when approaching traffic in the corners, and dealing with GT's notoriously stiff artificial intelligence cars. That said, the physics of the track seem to be dead on; unlike other versions of Daytona you might have played in the past, it seemed as if the suspension of the car conveyed every bump and indentation on the road as we drove. Interestingly, for our handful of laps at Daytona, the in-car view was not available in the car we selected.

We're happy to report on a new version of GT 5 Prologue, and there's more good news ahead: We'll be visiting the offices of Polyphony Digital tomorrow to discuss Prologue and all things Gran Turismo 5 with series creator Kazunori Yamauchi. Stay tuned to this space for more on the game once we return from our visit.

[UPDATE] As promised, today we had a chance to visit the Polyphony Digital studio where the Gran Turismo series is created, and we got to hear in more detail about the game's various features from GT creator Kazunori Yamauchi.

In a manner similar to his presentation at Leipzig, Yamauchi began the discussion with an introduction of the new main-menu screen that will greet Prologue players when they fire up the game. He pointed out features such as the calendar, which will be used to notify players of upcoming online events; the map and weather indicator, which will help you keep track of any online friends who are currently playing the game (as well as the weather of locales all across the world); and the gorgeous 3D wallpaper backgrounds that will be interchangeable at any time by the player. These high-res images are based on real-life locales. Kazunori explained that one, a small German village, was actually based on a town near the Nürburgring. Another, which features what appear to be ruins, is actually based on the remnants of the medieval Castle Nürburg, the nearby castle that is visible from the track. In addition, Yamauchi pointed out the scrolling text at the bottom edge of the screen, which, in the full version of the game, will be a scrolling ticker of sorts featuring content from automobile manufacturers, the latest motorsports news headlines, and updates from Polyphony Digital itself.

In fact, motorsports content seems to be playing a large role in what Yamauchi envisions for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, as well as the future of the entire GT series. Although he was quick to point out that Prologue will focus on the core elements that have made the GT series successful, it isn't the only goal the team is looking to accomplish with the game. In fact, if Yamauchi has his way, Prologue, and the rest of the GT series, will become nothing less than a virtual cheerleader of sorts for the world's various motorsport disciplines.

The method behind this madness is Gran Turismo TV, which was first introduced to us back at Leipzig. Having seen the video service in action briefly on the show floor yesterday, we were curious to hear what Yamauchi believes the feature brings to the series. One of the most basic and most obvious uses of GT TV is to give real car manufacturers a way to push video to potential consumers. Of more interest to us, and perhaps to other motorsports fans, was Kazunori's ambitious plan to use GT TV as a method of sharing racing content across borders.

As Yamauchi sees it, the problem with motorsports these days is one of distribution. Beyond the biggest racing series in the world--the Formula 1s and NASCARs of the racing world--motorsports seem to be largely localized, which is to their detriment. He pointed that Japanese fans can't watch the World Rally Championship series; similarly, American car fans might have a tough time finding races from Japan's D1 Grand Prix drifting series. And because these series can't draw a big enough fan base from traditional television coverage (which is loathe to broadcast much in the way of so-called "niche" content), they inevitably put the content onto DVDs, which usually only reach a small fraction of the potential audience.

Consequently, between the millions of potential fans for a racing series worldwide, and the relatively small number of people actually going out and purchasing the content, there lies a huge gap. As Yamauchi sees it, Gran Turismo TV could be one method toward serving that gap of people who are interested in motorsports content but can't or won't actively go out and search for it.

With all of this said, the question becomes: Will we be watching NASCAR (or British Touring Car, or DTM) races on our PS3s through a Gran Turismo TV interface, no matter where we live in the world? It sounds like a nice dream...but considering the sheer amount of licensing trouble and legal red tape it will take to make that lofty goal a reality, we'll take a position of cautious skepticism on it ever becoming a reality. Bottom line: Gran Turismo TV sounds like an ambitious project with tons of potential, but it also sounds like it could have lots of growing pains before it becomes something close to Yamauchi's vision.

When not demonstrating new game modes, Kazunori was showing off Prologue on the virtual track. He gave us a brief look at the new Daytona Superspeedway while driving the just-announced Nissan GT-R (which is making its debut in the game before even arriving in dealerships). Yamauchi said that the oval racing will be more strategic in nature, and will require the player to make use of oval-racing techniques such as slip-streaming to be successful. In our hands-on time with the game on Daytona, we also found the time-honored but slightly less gentlemanly method of "pushing your way through AI cars as if they weren't there at all and/or using them as moving sidewalls" to be a pretty effective technique as well. Still, it's nice to see Daytona getting some Gran Turismo love, and here's hoping the final game includes the infield section of the track.

Races in Prologue will come in a number of forms: from straight-ahead blasts to the finish line for up to 16 cars, to drift challenges, as well as time-attack events. Even with 16 cars on the track at once, the frame rate looks solid--Yamauchi said that races will run at 1080p at 60 frames per second, while race replays (which will include numerous digital effects and new camera angles to accommodate the bigger field) will run at 30 frames per second. The in-car views, which we first saw at Leipzig, continue to amaze us in their minute attention to detail. In addition to the full dashboard, mirrors, gauges, steering wheel, and other components being modeled, the team at Polyphony Digital is also modeling the interior rear of the car as well. Both the rear view and side mirrors seemed to be working in this build of the game, which was a noticeable improvement from the blurry and messy-looking mirrors from the Leipzig build of the game.

A lack of ambition has never been a Polyphony Digital problem, and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue's approach to serving as an international motorsports proponent is nothing if not ambitious. We look forward to learning more about the game in the coming months--particularly regarding a U.S. release date, which as of this writing hasn't been announced. Those lucky Japanese will be playing the demo version of Prologue on October 24 via a free download, while the full retail version of Prologue is due in Japan this December on disc as well as via download.

Discussion

57 comments
amulbocus
amulbocus

GT5 Prologue and the full GT5 are an absolute dream for car lovers like me. I still play GT4 upscaled on my PS3 and sometimes i forget its a PS2 game!!!. Any way GT5 is the absolute pinnacle for driving sims and swats aside games like Fiorza motorsport on the 360 and need for speed etc. Watch the 360 fans start getting all defensive Ha Ha.

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

They really need to hurry up. I know they want to make a quality game, however this has been in production for over 2 years now. Need to get my 'realistic' race game on.

magic_khan
magic_khan

tadz cool.............hope ps2 users will also enjoy............

Titanicles
Titanicles

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Gamefisher86
Gamefisher86

I wonder how many cars are going to be in this one??? GT4 there were like 600.. so i hope they can match or beat that number....

j3c1987
j3c1987

I love racing games and if the gameplay is as good as the graphics (probably) i might have to buy a PS3 just for this game

wdave92
wdave92

damn this is going to be awsome

absjazz
absjazz

in response to the section where "the driver in the f430 doesnt move his hands to shift", the f430 has paddle shifters behind the wheel, so there is no animation needed for that movement

Eclipse83Lives
Eclipse83Lives

IMPROVMENT from page one to two. Of course their is, its not GT 5, and its Kazunori. He'll ace this game even more before we see it. And than totally ace it "x20" before it becomes the real deal GT 5 latter, not Prologue. Thats gonna be the real sick version GT 5!! I mean when it comes to Kaz or Hido, do people really think they have seen the polished version? na lol. But im sure will have to wait, but FF and MGS will hold over for a while im sure. With non stupid controls to "like other race games" Not to interested in AI," with MANY players online being my AI. Plus it will be nice to frive a race game that you can actually race the mean rear wheel cars. After all thats 90% of real racing still as of now. And to add Daytona. Yea its a oval, but still. Kinda cool.

shadystxxx
shadystxxx

Again im disapointed the AI drivers have not been completly re-vamped. I had read several previews where the devs had said gone are the days of AI drivers just sticking to the racing line and being immovable objects. It really annoys me, the gt series has done great things but still the it has the same ai it had in gt 1, it does my head in when i over-take a car and head back into the driving line of a track only for an un-movable object to push my off the course, even if you try to take another car out its basicly impossible its liked there glued to the driving line, even the cars behind an AI car they all keep the excat same distance between each other. I love the gt games and im pleased online racing is now in the game so i wont have to put up with the crap AI but in my books this is why forza is better than gt. Hopefully for gt5 proper the ai will be improved but i doubt it, it seems pd are quite happy with there AI.

mad_tyger
mad_tyger

I'm so glad I have a Japanese account :D

TexasAnMGrad2K
TexasAnMGrad2K

What is the difference between 'Gran Turismo HD', 'Gran Turismo 5 Prologue', and 'Gran Turismo 5'?

Brainkiller05
Brainkiller05

I'm not really a fan of racing games, however this Is appealing to me ^_^

yaminoshadow
yaminoshadow

gt is the coolest game around. why so? cos its the game series which the prologue is a separate game from the full game...just give us the actual game already, dont waste our time with another prologue

bendall01
bendall01

Are the replays still going to be 30 frames like in the downloadable demo GT5? Hopefully not. Some of the videos on the right look like they are at least 60 frames (the replays that is).

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

can't wait to get my hands on this one. it looks so good

jonobubbles
jonobubbles

Looks good, hope theirs no flaws in it but still might have to pick this up. :D:D

HXCDEW
HXCDEW

thekey It doesn't look any better then Forza motorsport 2. It really doesn't you can't even tell the difference between GT HD and this game. ------ You're clearly blind or not wearing your glasses. These pathetic, low, cam quality videos don't do the game any justice. GT5 is easily the most photorealistic game on a console. Only a jealous, blind, idiotic fanbot would deny that. Go watch the game on a big HD screen in full 1080p with surround sound. Then tell me it's not better looking than any racing game out there. Forza 2? Please! Put it away.

fabitosan2
fabitosan2

that isnt true beacouse they said, the game will feature 1080p and 60 FPS, but in the review it will run on 30 FPS, but they had more than a year to reach the top of ps3 hardware, so dont think it is like its shows

thekey
thekey

It doesn't look any better then Forza motorsport 2. It really doesn't you can't even tell the difference between GT HD and this game. As a matter of fact this game(whle in it's early stage) looks like it's only 30 FPS(Frames per Second ) which for the PS3 is not good.

mr_gouda
mr_gouda

I hope they do a total overhaul of the AI. The computer cars almost never pass other computer cars. They just stick to their predetermined racing lines the entire race. Boring! I hope they move the invisible walls farther away from the track on the dirt tracks, like the Grand Canyon track. Well, at least there are finally more than 6 cars on the track at once.

007ybse04
007ybse04

Tracks' GFX are horrible compared to PGR and Forza, No 3d Env. 2D flat trees in the horizon :)

aaron5829
aaron5829

Ovals... arghhhh !!! I had enough of the ovals !!!! Jeezzzz !!

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Awesome, I like how this game is coming along.

fatafreak
fatafreak

forza had better AI and better crash physics. but GT will always be the best in graphics and fun. and more cars, and well just totally better basically.

jackle2071
jackle2071

Really the only thing that needs fixing is the AI. other then that this is going to be one sweet game! but lets not forget this is only prologue. the best is still yet to come with GT!!!

treytakahashi
treytakahashi

Please God let me import cars from 4 and 3!!! Oh God I want my old Zonda back!

chewygun
chewygun

not a fan of racing games (yea whatever gimme the negative)

haesuse
haesuse

lol @ forza or anything else that competes in the simulation racing genre. GT has been the King of the Hill and it will remain that for a long time to come! Just go and read all the previews so far. GT5 has so many promising new additions that no game out can match it thus far. Also graphically, there has honestly never been anything near GT and now in HD it will just be mind blowing. Let the countdown continue, cuz i cant wait!

x-navigator
x-navigator

It's Best MOTORing. Not MOTOring. Why can't gamespot get anything right when it comes to Gran Turismo?

kono11
kono11

I hope PS3 gets cheaper, so i can buy this great-great-great-great game!

twashington9737
twashington9737

I'm with Skuad_Knight . I got bored with GT during the PS2 first version. I need some vehicle damage or something to make this game a bit more exciting...Maybe I need to be more of a gear head....could work....

BulletProof007
BulletProof007

One of the staple games for the PS3 and it should be good.

No-Go-Zone
No-Go-Zone

kavadias1981 mate... i saved up from ps2... egnored psp completely... got ps3 day of relese (i had 600.00 by then so got a decent HDTV and got me mum n dad 2 pay half of ps3 as a B/D present) now own 2 games Rainbow 6 and Resistance (after trading in oblivion) getting warhawk tommorow hopefully and then assassins creed, Haze, GT5, Burnout, Littlebigplanet,Unreal torney (if im allowed) GTA IV (again if im allowed), Prototype, maybe COD 4. god... i don't know how any gamer lives without it.