Gran Turismo 4: Prologue Edition revealed

Sony unveils the cheaper, scaled-down preview version of its eagerly anticipated racing game at the Tokyo Motor Show.

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TOKYO--At the ongoing 37th Tokyo Motor Show in Japan, Sony Computer Entertainment revealed the "Prologue Edition" of Gran Turismo 4. The Prologue Edition will be going on sale December 4, over a month before the full game's release on January 6, 2004.

The Prologue Edition will feature five courses--New York, the Grand Canyon, an Italian town, and Japan's Fuji Speedway and Tsukuba Circuit--which were seen in previous demos of Gran Turismo 4. The New York course will be centered on Times Square, while the Fuji Speedway will be a reproduction of the real course before it underwent massive remodeling. While the Tsukuba Circuit is well-known in Japan, this will be the first time that the course will be included in the GT series. About 50 cars will be selectable in the Prologue Edition which, while a vast selection for a racing game, is still small when considering that the final GT4 will feature over 500 vehicles.

While Gran Turismo 4: Prologue Edition is sure to attract hardcore fans, developer Polyphony Digital also hoping it will attract new players as well. Producer Kazunori Yamauchi commented that one of the difficulties in continuing the series was in trying to make each new release more new-player friendly while expanding the game' scope and complexity. The Gran Turismo 4: Prologue Edition features a new "Driving School" mode which will offer players lessons on how to steer and other rules of the road.

Although the Prologue Edition is only a sample of the full Gran Turismo 4, SCE emphasized that the title will be richly featured and worth more than a simple demo. Yamauchi commented that Gran Turismo 4: Prologue Edition has about the same volume as a normal racing game, but is priced at a low 2,980 yen ($27.28), compared to the 5,800 yen ($53.18) to 6,800 yen ($62.25) that a regular game retails for in Japan.

Yamauchi also commented on the full edition of Gran Turismo 4. He talked about how the developers focused not only on the cars, but also the scenery surrounding the courses. (An example of the scenery can be seen in the Prologue edition of the Grand Canyon course, where the game recreates 25 miles of the landmark.) Another factor that the development team focused on was the characters in the game, such as the drivers, pit crews, and audience. In order to make the human movement more realistic, Gran Turismo 4 will use a physics engine similar to the one used to simulate the cars' movement in the game. The human engine program went under development five years ago and has finally reached a useable level, but Yamauchi said that it will take another 10 years for the engine to be perfected.

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