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Gran Turismo HD Concept Review

Developer: Polyphony Digital Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: December 24, 2006 Also On: None

It was a shame that Polyphony and Sony decided to axe this year’s Gran Turismo HD, most likely in favor of developing Gran Turismo 5. They did, however, release a demo of Gran Turismo HD Concept on the PlayStation Store Christmas Eve. What a present that was! GT HD Concept is a lovely demo that shows off just what a fine job Polyphony has done so far. It also gives racing fans a hands-on preview of what GT 5 should be like, come early ‘08.

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GT HD Concept features 10 cars, one track, and two gameplay modes. The cars are, in order of unlocking them: Suzuki Cappuccino ‘95, Mazda Eunos Roadster ‘89, Honda Integra Type R ‘04, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR ‘96, Infinity G35 Coupe ‘06, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR ‘05, Lotus Elise 111R ‘04, Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec II ‘94, Toyota Celica GT-FOUR Rally Car ‘95, and Ferrari 599 ‘06. The Eiger Norwand track is the track you’ll test all ten cars, and it’s a fun one, with a lot of elevation change, tight turns, and a tunnel straightaway to boot. You have the option to play Time Trial for each car on the Norwand track until you finish with the Ferrari 599, and then a Drift Trial mode opens up.

Time Trial is a standard single-car, single-lap mode. It’s your goal to beat varying times with each different car. The cool thing about Time Trial is that your times are loaded onto the PlayStation Network (PSN) and stacked against other racers in the world. My roomate was proud to be ranked #103 with the Ferrari 599, clocking in around 01:15:00. This gives GT HD Concept a replay value unprecedented by other video game demos.

Each of Norwand’s turns gives the player some drifting room, and as you drift in the Drift Trial, you’ll earn points that go towards a score that can be uploaded to PSN and ranked, just like Time Trial. Drifting in this game is a lot of fun when the traction control system (TCS) is turned down a little bit, making fish tails easy to do and not as difficult to realistically counter-steer.

GT HD Concept is easily the most attractive demo ever created, that’s for sure. Eiger Norwand is a beautiful track, with sweeping hills and far-off mountainsides. Crowds populate the track, waving flags, recording with cameras, and otherwise following your car as you race around each turn. The car models are absolutely perfect. I don’t think they’ve gotten much better since GT4 but that’s just a testament to how perfectly Polyphony recreates each vehicle, not necessarily a let-down. The sound effects are recycled, which is a little disappointing, but oh well.

GT HD Concept takes up a tiny fraction of the PS3’s hard drive. Download it now, and see what a real next-gen experience should be like.

Written by Cliff