Gran Turismo 5 Update - Dynamic Weather, Rally Courses, and Playing on Your Computer

Just when we thought we knew everything there is to know about this oft-delayed racer, Polyphony Digital proves us wrong.


Last month, we were in Germany for Gamescom watching Polyphony Digital's Kazunori Yamauchi reel off a dense checklist of new features in Gran Turismo 5 that included a course generator, go-karts, and the expanded B-Spec driver management mode. To be honest, we were surprised there was so much left to show for a game that's been in development so long and has thus been the subject of so much prior coverage. Fast forward one month and we're left with the same thought. Here at Tokyo Game Show 2010, Yamauchi has just treated the press to a similar presentation with yet more new content to be found in Sony's upcoming simulation racer.

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Among the highlights of this presentation was a look at some of the game's new community features. There's a screen in GT5 called My Home that acts as a sort of community hub, allowing you to send messages, share content, and generally explore what you're friends have been up to in the game. There's also going to be an online counterpart to the game's My Home screen at that will let you explore similar community features by logging in with your existing PlayStation Network ID. But what really grabbed our attention about this Web site was this: When leaving your PlayStation 3 in remote mode, you'll be able to have your machine act as a server and manage races through your Web browser with the B-Spec race management mode. “Right now the browser game industry and the console game industry are two completely different things," remarked Yamauchi. "This is the first example of something that bridges the two.”

The other big new feature was an extended look at GT5's dynamic weather system. After previously announcing that GT5 will offer the ability to race during nighttime conditions, today, we got to see what sort of hazardous weather you'll be able to pair that with to create some truly challenging race scenarios. Rain and snowfall are a couple of the weather types you'll be able to race in, and in true Polyphony style, these conditions affect not only the driver's visibility but also the physics of a car on the road. In fact, the driving lines left by cars in a heavy snowfall create grooves in the ground with which you'll also have to contend. Yamauchi admitted that these types of conditions are definitely for the expert driver but hopes the allure offers novice players an enticing challenge. All we know is, with one of the newly announced cars from today, you'll now be able to race a Volkswagen Bus through a snowstorm in the dark of night. That's pretty crazy.

Speaking of new cars, Volkswagen was easily the dominant make in the list of five newly unveiled models that Yamauchi included in the presentation. In addition to the hippie favorite Volkswagen Samba Bus, there was the Volkswagen Kubelwagen and the amphibious Volkswagen Schwimmwagen. Outside the VW family, Yamauchi unveiled the Isuzu 4200R, a concept car first unveiled at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show and the GT by Citroen race car that was created as an interesting collaboration between Citroen, who designed the exterior, and Polyphony, who did the interior. Then, on the subject of tracks, Yamauchi announced both Laguna Seca and Trial Mountain will return, which have been completely rebuilt since the last time they appeared in the Gran Turismo 5 series. And finally, there's also going to be the Circuit de Sarthe track for some nighttime Le Mans action.

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Lastly, Yamauchi gave us a look at a new Rally mode. Tucked away in a special events screen that included other options like The Stig Challenge, Jeff Gordon NASCAR School, and Mercedes-Benz AMG Driving School, Gran Turismo Rally drops you into the seat of an off-road race car driver with an experience that seems to differ quite a bit from the usual GT experience. Here, start times are staggered, the courses are randomly generated, and you've got a navigator voice telling you about each turn ahead of time so that you don't have to keep glancing at the map. Yamauchi gave us a demo on one of these randomly generated point-to-point rally tracks, and you'd be hard pressed to tell it wasn't a predesigned course. We did notice that the dust effects in GT5 leave quite a bit to be desired, as the puffs of dirt kicking off the ground looked pretty choppy, but overall, the look of the rally events with their cars bouncing all over the off-road tracks was pretty solid. We're looking forward to getting the final product when it arrives on November 2.

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