Gran Turismo 5
Tucked up on the back of a truck in Festival Square in Edinburgh is not the kind of place you'd expect to find a demo booth for Sony but this is where the UK gets its first taste of Gran Turismo 5. This is where we don the fetching 3D glasses to take a look at the racing game the whole world has been waiting for.
The thing to be really aware of is that GT5 isn't just important as a game for Sony, but it is also one of their flagship 3D titles and a lot is riding on the success of Polyphony's new masterpiece. We got a chance to have a look at the game's arcade race mode over one track to see just how good the 3D graphics actually are.
The arcade mode allows you to pick a car and hop into it and hammer around a track quickly, and it goes a bit easier on you than you might expect from a Gran Turismo game. Previous iterations of Gran Turismo have been punishingly realistic and while GT5 retains the air of realism you also have the opportunity to tone it down a bit and have a touch more fun.
The 3D effect feels really odd at times, with menus seemingly floating in mid air over moving footage of the track. This feeling quickly disappears when you get down to the actual driving though.
In arcade mode the races have rolling starts and you can also switch on the racing line guide which works exactly like the racing line in Gran Turismo on the PSP. It is a blue line that tells you where you should be at any given time to get round the track quickest. It even tells you when to brake as it will highlight the braking zones in red.
Gran Turismo 5 still follows the old convention of controlling acceleration and braking with the cross and square buttons which, to be honest, works just as well as using the triggers and frees these up for gear changes if you like to play with a manual gearbox.
Getting down to the racing and, once your eyes adjust to the 3D effects, Gran Turismo 5 plays like a dream. The 3D effect works spectacularly no matter which of the different views you like to use. From behind the car you get a beautifully-rendered 3D model of your car that moves almost like the real thing. Inside the cockpit you get an exact dashboard replica of the car you are driving. Driving using the front bumper camera is quite a rush as you can almost feel the asphalt rolling past your face at up to 120 or 130 mph.
The cars handle as you'd expect them to as well, with the game punishing you very heavily for braking while turning. This may be arcade mode but this is no arcade racer - after all. You will need to make sure you brake before the corners rather than keeping the accelerator depressed all the time. Other than that the cars are quite forgiving and, if you do spin off, it is easy enough to get back on the track and going again.
We tried the race a couple of times, once with an Audi TT and once with a Lamborghini Gallardo and each car did handle differently. The handling and acceleration felt right for both cars with the Lamborghini requiring much sharper control to keep it in the track on the corners whereas the Audi was much kinder on the corners but didn't quite have the power to speed away like the Gallardo did.
The feature that had the biggest impact was undoubtedly the 3D. Polyphony have to be applauded for getting the 3D visuals as sharp and as focused as they are in 2D. It is all too easy to create a 3D image that looks slightly fuzzy but the demo code was at least spot on.
The other real difference that the 3D makes is in getting to grips with the cars and the addition of a true depth perception means that you can drive the cars in Gran Turismo 5 as if they were the real thing. The 3D makes you look just that little bit farther down the track as you drive, improving your ability to anticipate braking points and the positioning of other cars. This is a truly groundbreaking game and the perfect example of 3D used 'right'.
The demo we played was extremely impressive and intuitive and even if the final version is only as polished as what we've seen then Gran Turismo 5 will be something special. Of course, Polyphony Digital has been at this for a long time now and the final version should exceed the quality of what we got out hands on.
Indeed, Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 5 is possibly the most ambitious title due this year. Boasting 1,000 different cars and around 120 different tracks as well as licenses from NASCAR and the World Rally Championship there will be plenty of different driving experiences for PS3 petrolheads to get their hands on, when it finally launches this November.