Gran Turismo 6 Demo – Are The Improvements Worthwhile?
So Gran Turismo. It’s a hard sell for Sony these days, what with the series now more infamous for GT5 taking so long to develop and less for the actual quality of the game itself.
And even that is reputed by long-time fans.
Though Gran Turismo 5 has gone from strength to strength through numerous updates, initially a lot of gamers felt the reusing of assets and the po-faced approach to the game a little off-putting.
That’s the thing to notice the most about the Gran Turismo 6 running on the demo recently released on the PSN Store; the menu isn’t as obtuse, the music is a little more up-tempo and the general aesthetics have been polished up.
Admittedly this isn’t a slice of the full thing – as we’ve come to expect from demos – but instead a separate part of the GT Academy, a Nissan-sponsored set of events that pit Gran Turismo fans against each others times in a series of qualifiers.
But all the same, if this is a taste of what we can expect from the upcoming Gran Turismo 6 then many of the criticisms from those who labelled Gran Turismo 5 boring could all be wiped away.
Though there’s no solution to those incessant arcade racing fans who seem hell-bent on dismissing the GT series simply because it isn’t for them, those who fail to forget that this is a simulation game – it’s a very particular audience, but no less entertaining.
But what of the new ‘features’ that will come with Gran Turismo 6? How does this demo shape up as an example of what we might expect in October?
Gran Turismo 6’s Graphical Overhaul
The demo gives you access to Autumn Ring, Suzuka Circuit, Grand Valley Speedway and the new Silverstone track.
Perhaps we were expecting more than we should’ve done, but the trailers that came out alongside the reveal of Gran Turismo 6 showed off some pretty snazzy visuals – and the new Silverstone track doesn’t look like anything special.
That’s not to say that – visually at least – there aren’t improvements. Lighting is the biggest change, with a much stronger sun glare, especially at sunset. The result is some gorgeous shots as you careen around at bend as dusk.
The HDR lighting just makes everything – existing tracks included – feel a little more vibrant and attractive, a feature that benefits most from in-car view as the sun peaks from around the edges of your cars frame.
It also means the shimmer of the cars and the track are a little more detailed too. All that chat Polyphony Digital did on lighting seems to be spot on, then, since it’s here where the game really shines. Pun intended.
Outside of that there’s not much more to report on this front. Think baby steps rather than a huge overhaul, but that’s to be expected; in the right light Gran Turismo 5 was a sight to behold, especially in Photo Mode.
Elsewhere the UI has been rejigged. It’s a little more stylish and modern rather than the bland menus of Gran Turismo 5, and the emphasis on rock rather than smooth jazz work in tandem to keep things feeling a little more lively.
The New Physics Engine Of Gran Turismo 6
It’s tricky going into Gran Turismo 6 knowing the physics engine has been tweaked since there’s an expectation to find something completely different.
But the mechanics were solid in GT5, why should the overhaul it?
That’s not to say the new physics engine isn’t improved and the real criticism comes in the demo’s choice of vehicles. The Nissan Leaf – an automatic with the BHP of a turtle – isn’t perhaps the best example of what Gran Turismo 6 can do.
Luckily later tracks – and even the main Silverstone event itself – puts you in the seat of a Nissan 370Z. Not a Bugetti by any stretch, but a considerable improvement over the rather lacklustre Leaf.
It’s here where the physics system really starts to feel useful, with a sense of speed that really compliments the vehicle itself.
Now it’s much easier to weave in between other racers now, enabling the drafting overtake technique that GT5 was so reliant to be even more beneficial than ever.
There’s a smoothness to the underlying physics now that give you an improvement to the control of your car, as well as the visual fidelity that comes with realistic leans as cars take a bend, lurches as you brake or rumbles as you cross uneven terrain.
It’s hard to tell precisely how far reaching this system is just yet, but it’s clear that the effort spent on perfecting the suspension physics has done wonders for the overall handling of the cars.
Impressions Of The GT6 Demo
So what did we make of the demo? A good showing from Polyphony Digital, all told. It’s not a radical shift over Gran Turismo 5, admittedly, but it could be an enhanced version that will make it a must-have.
Sadly the AI hasn’t seen any particular updates – at least from what we could tell – and though it will adapt to your reactions a little more believably they still resemble a pack of automatons following the driving line first and foremost and never deviating.
But this is just a demo and elements like AI are often the last to be pinned down. There’s still time until the game’s release, and as it stands this is looking like it could be the best Gran Turismo yet.