Thrills and spills of the race­track — in your lounge

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

SEAT-OF-YOUR-PANTS feel is the only thing missing from Gran Turismo 5. The vir­tual ver­sions of the 1031 ve­hi­cles fea­tured in the car-rac­ing sim­u­la­tor aren’t al­most the same — they’re digi­tised clones — and iron­i­cally, that’s what makes the lack of a re­sponse from be­neath your bum so frus­trat­ing.

Driv­ers rely on ev­ery sen­sory in­put they can get when push­ing a car— es­pe­cially some of the ul­tra­pow­er­ful auto ex­ot­ica that can be fired up in GT5 — around a race­track and the game is so good in ev­ery other area you ex­pect this to be there.

A feed­back-en­abled steer­ing wheel re­acts to front-end push if driv­ers en­ter a corner too fast or to the front/rear/all-wheels break­ing trac­tion if too much power is ap­plied.

Hav­ing driven a hand­ful of the 1031 cars fea­tured in GT5, the metic­u­lously ren­dered ve­hi­cles — the game dis­plays in 1080p — re­act just like their real-world coun­ter­parts. It’s the same with the recre­ations of the cir­cuits — For­mula One driv­ers ad­mit to us­ing Gran Turismo to give them a base­line un­der­stand­ing of new tracks be­fore ac­tu­ally test­ing a car there.

That’s down to game cre­ator Kazunori Ya­mauchi’s ob­ses­sion with trans­lat­ing ev­ery as­pect of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence into the game. He is fa­mous — some will say in­fa­mous — for re­fus­ing to re­lease a ver­sion un­til he is sat­is­fied it’s as true-to-life as technology can make it. That’s re­sulted in a five-year de­lay since the launch of Gran Turismo 4 as Ya­mauchi built a physics en­gine ca­pa­ble of pro­cess­ing the thou­sands of data in­puts — from throt­tle open­ings to air-den­sity ef­fects and brak­ing bias — he logged while driv­ing the real cars.

Equally de­mand­ing was his de­ci­sion to de­vise a re­al­is­tic dam­age sim­u­la­tor — one of the few crit­i­cisms of pre­vi­ous ver­sions of Gran Turismo was the lack of a dam­age ‘‘ penalty’’ if driv­ers hit the wall or other cars.

The re­sult is a game that fi­nally comes close to do­ing jus­tice to the awe­some com­pu­ta­tional abil­i­ties of Sony’s PlayS­ta­tion3 con­sole.

Peak per­for­mance is around 200 bil­lion cal­cu­la­tions a sec­ond to fang a Fer­rari.

The other ap­peal for GT5 own­ers is they can get all this — and much more — for only $130.


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