When the much-awaited Playstation game arrives in South Africa in December, gamers will be able to race 500 realistically-modelled cars on 100 tracks, including a very detailed New York city street circuit and the famous Nurburgring.Gran Turismo 4 Playstation game arrives in South Africa in December, gamers will be able to race 500 realistically-modelled cars on 100 tracks, including a very detailed New York city street circuit and the famous Nurburgring.content here

When the much-awaited Gran Turismo 4 Playstation game arrives in South Africa in December, gamers will be able to race 500 realistically-modelled cars on 100 tracks, including a very detailed New York city street circuit and the famous Nurburgring.


Kazunori Yamauchi, the legendary creator of the series, is clearly a car nut. At the age of six he drove his father's Corolla into a pond. His first car was a Nissan Skyline GT-R. But he's also a computer geek who started programming at the age of 10 and was building robots at 13.


Today, the 30-something programmer is nothing less than a cult hero. And with sales of his games in the region of 30 million units, he has become one of the most powerful men in the multi-billion dollar company that is Sony Computer Entertainment.


The idea behind is relatively simple - program as many cars as possible into the game, then allow gamers to drive these cars on all the best circuits in the world.


But Yamauchi-san is a perfectionist, which is why all the cars in are recreated in painstaking detail, from engine sounds to realistic handling and hundreds of possible modifications.


The distinguishing feature that elevates above all the other racing simulation games is its "physics engine", a digital formula into which the parameters of power, tyre type and size, braking power, weight and distribution etc are fed. This enables the team to create very authentic handling, braking and performance characteristics.


But don't for a moment think the cars are merely the result of the programmers' collective imaginations - they are all tested thoroughly on racetracks, their engines mapped, and the entire rev range recorded to capture the most realistic engine sounds possible.


The upcoming GT4 will have anything from Volkswagen's 2002 1-litre concept car to the latest BMW M5, but why no Porsches or Ferraris? Apparently, the licensing costs for these cars are stratospheric.


In any case, if you really want to race a Porsche, the game does offer several RUF-tuned models. But this may change in due course. For the first time, Gran Turismo 4 may bring you Lamborghini, for example, and Spyker and Koenigsegg too.


Another thing that may change in future editions of Gran Turismo is crash realism. Until now, manufacturers have not been keen on the idea of having their cars crashed to bits on TV screens.


But this feature has now become essential if Gran Turismo wants to reach its aim of becoming a 100 per cent realistic driving simulator - not just a game. In an effort to penalise gamers who use the track-side barriers, or rival cars, as "guides" around corners, Yamauchi and his team have decided on a 10-second penalty system that is activated whenever the driver crashes and would, in real life, be out of the race.


It's not really a solution, merely an interim fix until crashes and retirements can be depicted in the game. Yamauchi also believes PS2 is not powerful enough to depict realistic damage.


Several manufacturers will still not license their cars for use in the game if they are going to be crashed, but others have indicated they would be willing to let the issue rest. Problem is, Yamauchi can't do anything about this vital next step until everyone agrees on crash realism. Come on, guys...


Meanwhile, Gran Turismo 4 is due in South Africa in December. More cars. More circuits. More detail. It will offer on-line gameplay for up to six players. We can't wait.