July 25, 2007 - The latest issue of Famitsu has a huge blowout on the racing game that's set to make PS3s throughout the world burn later this year, [Register or Login to view links]. In addition to some slick screenshots (which we hope Polyphony will be good enough to release online shortly), the magazine also sat down with producer Kazunori Yamauchi for the full word on the GT5 sampler.
A series of firsts kick off the coverage. We're given a first look at the new cockpit view, which places you in the driver's seat -- a first for the series. In addition to a detailed interior, this view has nice touches like a moving speedometer and odometer and rear/side mirrors that reflect the happenings behind your car. You can use the D-pad to look left and right, although Yamauchi noted that you'll need to have the steering wheel peripheral for this.
Engine sounds are different when driving from the in-the-car perspective. Extra credit work from Polyphony's hard-working development staff? Actually, Yamauchi admitted that the team had recorded these sounds before.
The magazine also offers a first look at the "My Page" interface, which serves as your personalized menu for the game. In addition to icons for Race, Garage, TV, Album, Option, Profile and Home (you'll have to figure out what these do for yourself for now, although some should be obvious), the page has a calendar with upcoming race events marked, a world map with your area of play marked in red, weather readouts for major areas of the world, and a clock.
Yamauchi seems to have high regards for the My Page area. GT5 Prologue has been made with online play in mind, said the producer to Famitsu, and its game style is fundamentally different from other race games. Just as social network users start off at their personal pages when accessing sites like My Space, Polyphony expects GT5 Prologue players to want to start off at their My Page. Sure enough, the game will take you directly to your My Page after start up.
Yamauchi feels that GT5 Prologue offers the feeling of a simple GT Mode, a "Gran Turismo World" in which a large number of players co-exist. Polyphony is working on perfecting the details, from the interiors of cars to town scenery.
That's right, the game will recreate not just your garage, but your area of residence! When you turn off the icons from the My Page screen, you're shown actual pictures from your location of play. Polyphony is assembling scenes from Tokyo and other cities, as well as the inside of buildings and more natural settings.
As you might have guessed from the presence of the Home option on the My Page interface, Polyphony will be adding Home support to the game. The current plan is to give Gran Turismo its own universe within the Home virtual space. Players will be able to jump into GT5 Prologue directly from this space, then jump back by selecting the Home option from the My Page menu.
It seems that GT5 will be replicating some of the Home functionality in game. Polyphony is hoping to implement friend lists in the final version of the game, complete with the kind of features you'd expect to see in a social network. How this will work with the friend list and other community features of Home was not discussed in the interview.
Also sure to contribute to the feeling of community is voice chat. You'll be able to select two forms of online racing, one with the chat features on, the other a more purified arcade experience with the chat features turned off.
Offline, the game will play completely different from GT4 Prologue, in which the single player mode consisted primarily of license tests. Yamauchi says we can expect a game design somewhere between the arcade mode and GT mode of past titles. You earn money from racing, with each race offering a different prize. This money can be used to purchase cars from a car dealer. The tuning shop from a full-fledged GT mode is missing.
The game will feature around 40 cars and 4 courses with 8 layouts, including some locations that have never before been seen in the GT series. Prologue will not feature paid downloadable cars and courses, Yamauchi confirmed.
Yamauchi also made note of some of the technical specs of the game. The final game will run in 1080p, just like last year's demo. This technical feat is, Yamauchi admitted, very difficult, and his team is working hard to make it work.
Famitsu noted that the lighting effects in the Pit Menu screen are particularly impressive, and Yamauchi responded that the game uses a technique called High Dynamic Range Lighting. He believes that this is a technique that cannot be replicated on other systems. He also pointed out that the scenery used in the pit menu is actually an evolved version of the same scene from the GT4 intro. Of course, the scene was pre-rendered footage in GT4, and it's real time here.
Despite the 1080p visuals and the detailed cars, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue's engine is powerful enough to display more cars than we're used to seeing in the racing genre. While the number hasn't been finalized, Polyphony is hoping to have 16 cars on the track during offline races. That number will likely drop to 12 for online races due to possible connection issues.
And the feature-list keeps on growing! Believe it or not, Yamauchi is hoping to include a B Spec mode in the title. In this mode, instead of driving, you stand on the sidelines and issue orders to an AI driver. The team is making use of something similar to the B Spec mode as a means of tuning opponent cars, but it hasn't been decided if the mode will be included with GT5 starting with Prologue.
Gran Turismo fans may be wondering if it's worth picking up GT5 Prologue or just waiting for the final GT5 release. Here's some incentive to make the early jump. Yamauchi confirmed that, at the very least, money that you earn in GT5 Prologue will be available in GT55. Prologue's October release should mean ample time to save up in order to buy a spectacular first car when GT5 comes around some time next year.
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