Gran Turismo 4 developer, Kazunori Yamauchi made a personal appearance at Sony’s Gamers’ Day event in San Francisco to show off the latest build of Polyphony’s driving simulator. The big news were two new tracks, one of which was the Fuji Speedway, and another, a rally race through a small Italian town. In one of the screens they showed in the powerpoint presentation, a car driving through snow was shown, but no determination has been made if that course will make it into the final build. No new cars were shown, but since the environment was less hectic than E3, we were able to get some really strong impressions of the game.
On the Italian course, the first thing you notice is how incredibly narrow the track is. Yamauchi explained that since the car handling was more exact, and more responsive than ever, this allowed them to include a track that was winding and narrow. The team took over 50,000 photos of the town, and used GPS data for determining exact elevation change.
The Fuji Speedway was a more straightforward race course, with a few turns that were quite difficult with the new Logitech wheel, but were much more manageable with the Dual Shock controller. Racing on this course with the available muscle cars also produced a much different feel than racing on it with the faster cars, or even some of the vintage performance vehicles.
Yamauchi also revealed that they were looking into some sort of a “black flag” in online races that would prevent people from slamming into each other on turns. The penalty for receiving this black flag has yet to be determined, but could be a time penalty or greater.
When asked what the greatest criticism they took to heart from GT3 to GT4, Yamauchi replied that they received the most complaints about the game’s balance. He said that everyone felt it was either too hard or too easy, but not many people thought that it was just right. They have spent a lot of time making it more balanced, and from the sound of it, making the learning curve a little easier to handle.
All in all, the game doesn’t feel terribly different than GT3. The backgrounds are much improved, and really add a sense of realism to the courses. Some of the lighting on the Italian course made it look photo-realistic, especially on the replays. It’s not looking to be as revolutionary as Polyphony claims, but it’s going to be a winner.
Here are a few key facts from the latest press release:
9/16/2003 Aaron Thomas