After last year’s pre-E3 event Sony took a lot of flak for showing a ton of pre-rendered videos but nothing real; lots of pretty stuff but nothing playable. It’s obvious they heard the complaints. This year it was almost all real game demos and only the occasional pre-rendered video. They kicked off the fanfare with a very, very lengthy demo of one of their most popular franchises running on the PS3: Gran Turismo.
It looked terrible.
Kazunori Yamauchi, producer of the GT series, came on-stage like a proud father to show off a demo called simply Gran Turismo HD. He explained, via translator, that the demo we were about to see was GT4 with high-resolution textures and a 1080p shot of nitrous. That’s exactly what he showed, and like any tarted-up has-been, it didn’t look too hot.
The car selection screen featured ten vehicles, both cars and bikes, hinting at the obvious convergence made possible by Tourist Trophy borrowing the physics engine from GT4. We didn’t see any two-wheeled machines in action today, though. Kaz started by showing a Motul JGTC 350Z driving around a circuit, and the game’s PS2 origins quickly became apparent.
The engine noises pumping through the immense speakers were the same occasionally good but mostly wheezy effects heard on the PS2. Flat trees flashed by in the background, billboards hawked products via blurry textures, and the cardboard fans in the stands were locked in perpetual cheering poses. In short: there was nothing next-gen about it. He followed that by showing the Bentley Speed 8 at Le Mans and then a Shelby Cobra 427 drifting around the Grand Canyon rally track. All three demos looked bad.
The resolution is obviously impressive, and 60 fps is definitely cool, but there was no motion blur, no HDR, and no other flashy next-gen effects that we’ve come to expect. Sure, 1080p is great, but Project Gotham Racing 3 running at 720p looks far, far more impressive.
Kazunori ended his presentation by stating that this demo was “only the beginning” and that whatever GT game first shows up on the PS3 will “easily surpass the qualities shown in this demo.” After seeing today’s demo, he had certainly better be right. He finished by stating that GT3 appeared 18 months after the PS2 launched, and that hey hoped to have this new iteration out more quickly after the PS3’s launch. Given Polyphony’s history, don’t hold your breath.
Oh, speaking of delays, if you happen to still be pining for Gran Turismo Online, Kaz mentioned that it’ll be entering beta testing this summer. That likely means a fall release on the PS2… just in time for the PS3 to come out.