LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - A national competition, a selection of real super cars and a mocked up “pit lane” in London greeted the European preview of Sony PlayStation’s newest version of race driving videogame Gran Turismo this week.
Red Ferraris, a yellow Lotus convertible and the newly unveiled Nissan GT-R were some of the 17 cars assembled in an underground car park in central London decorated to look like a pit lane and packed with gamers, models, a bar with staff dressed as pit crew and a DJ pumping out music.
Guests were invited to test out the latest version of the game in four arcade-style “cars” at the Thursday evening event.
Any one of 71 cars can be raced virtually in ‘Gran Turismo 5 Prologue’, which is, as the title suggests, an introduction to the full game, due for release at an undisclosed time in the next year or so.
There are six tracks, including a route through central London that would make most of London’s boy racers salivate, and gamers can also challenge other revheads worldwide thanks to an online function.
Sony is hoping games such as Gran Turismo will help PlayStation 3 claw back market share lost to cheaper consoles produced by rivals, including Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox. The company says more than 50 million copies of previous versions of Gran Turismo have been sold worldwide.
“The team reiterate the game every few years,” said Simon Roberts, senior producer for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
“Every single car has its own sound, its own feel, its own weight, its own behavior, its own stopping distance, its own turning angle.”
A nationwide hunt for the champion GT5 gamer ended with self-confessed geek Drew Forster walking off with a trophy and two tickets to the Le Mans 24-hour race in June.
“I’ve always been a Sony fan boy,” the 20 year-old student from Edinburgh said.
“It was so twitchy. If you lift off the power it will kick out on you like a real car. That’s the main quality of the game, how realistic it is,” he said.
He only had one quibble about the prize.
“I might have exams at the time”
Reporting by Alastair Sharp