Preview

Gran Turismo 6

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The impending arrival of a new, numbered Gran Turismo game has always been an exciting occasion for PlayStation fans and last week Polyphony Digital gave us the opportunity to go hands-on with Gran Turismo 6 with the release of the GT Academy demo. For those of you who don’t know anything about GT Academy, it’s a yearly competition sponsored by Nissan where Gran Turismo players from around the world compete on online leaderboards and subsequently on a real race track in order to win a spot on the Nissan GT Academy racing team.

The Gran Turismo 6 demo weighs in at 1087MB and expires in around 50 days. The demo opens with Lucas Ordoñez, winner of the first GT Academy competition, showing you the ropes as you drive a Nissan 370Z around the famous Silverstone Circuit in Britain. Following this introduction you’re invited to compete in the Sunday Cup where you can get behind the wheel of the electric-powered Nissan Leaf G ’11 which shouldn’t pose too many problems in terms of cornering thanks to its modest speed.

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Once you’ve completed the available events in the Sunday Cup and Clubman Cup and driven around legacy courses such as Autumn Ring Mini, Suzuka Circuit East Course and Grand Valley East then it’s time to move on to four special GT Academy events which prepare you for your final time trial on the Silverstone Circuit that constitutes your entry into the GT Academy 2013 competition. These four events cover different sections of the Silverstone track so it’s important to master each one and place amongst the top drivers on the online leaderboards if you want to stand any chance of your final time trial being competitive.

If you’re serious about submitting one of the top lap times in the world then you’ll want to watch the saved replays of the current leaders to see their driving lines and what other tricks they used to get around the track in the fastest time possible. You can also race against a ghost car of your fastest lap which offers a great incentive to shave seconds and split seconds off your previous best time trial.

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Based on the demo it’s clear that the team at Polyphony Digital have implemented a number of improvements in Gran Turismo 6 including shorter load times, higher resolution in 1080p mode, and a number of new graphical effects including adaptive tessellation and a far greater HDR dynamic range. This results in a cleaner, more realistic-looking presentation although the frame rate of the demo build has a tendency to dip below 60fps in 1080p mode when dust and smoke effects are present or when driving in cockpit view. Speaking of cockpit view, each car’s dashboard is meticulously detailed and you can even see what the backseat compartment looks like when you glance over your shoulder to see who’s on your bumper.

The most obvious changes in Gran Turismo 6 relate to the game’s overhauled physics engine which is readily apparent in the demo. Polyphony Digital has worked with a number of partners including German suspension manufacturer KW Automotive and tyre manufacturer Yokohama Rubber Corporation to obtain real-world data which governs the way that cars drive and react to wear and tear in the game. Unfortunately tyre wear is disabled in the demo, but the new suspension and aerodynamics modelling are clear to see as the frame of a car tilts depending on a range of factors such as down force, lift, air resistance, speed and cornering direction.

My time spent with the demo made it clear that Gran Turismo 6 possesses many of the same outstanding features and foibles as its predecessors. The Gran Turismo series has the tagline “The Real Driving Simulator” and GT6 appears to break new ground as far as driving realism and accurate car modelling is concerned. On the other hand, the AI of your competitors still seems outdated and they never appear to display any sort of aggressive tactics on the track. The game’s graphics also lack the pizzazz of recent racers such as GRID 2 as far as track detail is concerned, but this is completely understandable given that GT6 is targeting 60fps and can run at a higher native resolution than most current-gen racers (i.e. 1440×1080 according to Digital Foundry).

If you’re interested in getting some hands-on time with Gran Turismo 6 before its launches on PS3 this holiday then be sure to download the GT Academy demo from the PlayStation Store to sample what will surely turn out to be the most realistic, detailed and extensive driving simulator on current-gen consoles.


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