Published on August 4th, 2013 | by Swaine Dillinger0
Gran Turismo 6 – Preview
Turn 10 talk up a good game when they speak of their love for motorsport, but their Forza series rarely features the kind of eclectic creations you’d find in Gran Turismo. It’s that love which drives Polyphony Digital’s ambition, which is why they pick up on truly exciting automotive creations like Nissan’s DeltaWing, which other racing game developers tend to overlook for whatever reason – be it money, drive or whatever. This kind of approach allows Polyphony to think outside the box with Gran Turismo’s design, like with their yearly GT Academy promotion to find a gamer with enough talent to make the transition from gaming to real-life motorsport, and an innocent-looking free demo on the PlayStation Network is the first step in that truly terrific contest.
This year, interest in that competition reached unprecedented levels as a free-to-download demo was based on still-in-development Gran Turismo 6 code and the jump over the previous game was rather impressive. Only three cars (the purely electrical Nissan Leaf, 370Z, GT-R) featured on two real-world tracks (Suzuka and Silverstone), but it was easy to feel the leaps and bounds Polyphony Digital has made in their handling model. Suspension travel now feels much more reactive and spongy, especially on the slower cars like the Nissan Leaf and oversteer moments feel more naturally produced, thanks to improved tyre temperature simulation.
Players will now feel when they push the tyres too far, with a real-time temperature gauge showing just how much that previous power slide cost the rubbery black things in terms of performance. That feeling was there in Gran Turismo 5, but here the way rubber interacts with tarmac just feels that much more impactful, with players able to feel weight shifting from the rear to the front and vice versa even when using a gamepad.
Due to our experience being strictly based on the GT Academy and that alone, it’s hard to know how exactly these new simulation mechanics will behave in high performance cars like the Le Mans 24 hours-winning Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro or the aforementioned batmobile-wannabe the Deltawing, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing how these handle in-game.
It isn’t all trophies and champagne for Gran Turismo 6 though, at least in its GT Academy guise. Big technical strides have obviously being made, but troublingly they seem to be at the sacrifice of one of Gran Turismo’s most sacred principles: a commitment to a solid 60 frames-per-second framerate. During time trial segments around Silverstone the code performed admirably, but once AI cars joined us on the track some subtle frame skips entered the fray, and that wasn’t even with a full 18-car grid.
Undoubtedly it’s worth noting that the GT Academy code is from a codebase that is still very much in development and Polyphony have lots more time to optimise and tweak things, but still it’s surprising to see the framerate prove so finicky.
Perhaps what excites us the most about Gran Turismo 6 is that it’s a game which takes chances. Visually it may not look a world away from its predecessor, and that’s largely down to sticking with the current generation of hardware, but in tone and execution it’s clear feedback from the previous game has been listened to, with menu design now far easier to navigate and load times noticeably lessened.
Polyphony Digital are charged and ready to take the best console racer title away from Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport, they’ve always had the heart but this time they may just have the game to back it up. We’ll find out more soon.