Just got back from a Sony showcase a few blocks from Kotaku's NYC office. Heading back over there post-haste. Had a few minutes to try to wreck a car in Gran Turismo 5 and learn about the game's head-tracking.
A Sony representative was showing Polyphony Digital's upcoming PlayStation 3 racing game, and let me drive a couple of laps around a city track. What does me, a non Gran Turismo player do? Fall into last place and start bumping into walls.
My Audi TT took no damage even as I bashed it against the wall. The Sony rep explained to me that damage for that car wasn't in the demo. Damage was being shown on a Subaru WRC Impreza, the same virtual car McWhertor wrecked in Germany.
I smacked the Subaru into walls until its doors were flying open and its fenders were scratched. The Sony man took over and got the bumper to nearly fall off. He said he's gotten the hood knocked off too and that beneath these busted bits Polyphony has rendered the innards of the car. We'll be able to see behind the damage.
And it's not just cosmetic damage, I was told. The car's performance will be impaired if the vehicle is roughed up. Gears might not shift as well, for example.
The other stand-out feature I was told about was head-tracking. The game will support the PlayStation 3 camera, the PlayStation Eye. While one wasn't hooked up at today's event, it was explained that the device will track a player's head movements. The goal is for the depth-of-field focal point far down the track to shift, matching your head movement. What you look at will be appear more clearly, in theory. So as you look a little to the right, the right part of what you see beyond your car may come more sharply into focus. But the car itself won't turn with your head, of course.
The Sony rep explained that Polyphony's goal is for players to feel like they are experiencing what real racers see. He noted that the feature was still a work in progress and couldn't offer more details about how it works. From his gestures, I suspect the head-tracking will be responsive more to leans than to head turns, the latter of which obviously would make it hard to see the TV.
With neither the head-tracking incorporated into this demo nor the performance effects of the car damage evident to a series novice like myself, I can't judge either feature. But they sound like the attention to deal the series is respected for.
Gran Turismo is slated for a PS3 release some time next year.