Thrills and spills of the racetrack — in your lounge
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.