SPENT yesterday evening in Soho…
Good show it was too. No, I wasn’t at the salubrious ‘Tattoo’ Bar, (a landmark, thanks to a six-foot Rupaul look-alike outside), but on the top floor of a NCP multi-story car park with just about every other British motoring ‘hack’ you care to mention. Forget the people, I was there for the cars – and a stunning array of modern supercars (TVR Speed 12 anyone?), classic sports cars (Ginetta, Mazda Cosmo), and competition beasts (Jaguar XJR-9 and Bentley Le Mans cars) was there to be enjoyed…
Yup – this amazing selection of cars was there to mark the launch of SCEE’s latest Playstation game, Gran Turismo 4.
It’s a sign of the times that a video game has such pulling power, but there you go. And all the ‘names’ were all there: Top Gear, Fifth Gear (ahem), CAR, Autocar, and… Classic Car Weekly, of course. And all were there to see a video game being launched. It seems as though this £30 bundle of fun has really capatured the collective imagination of just about every petrolhead in the land – a far cry from the nerdish computer shows I used to go to in the late Eighties and early Nineties. This was a real media event.
And it’s easy to see why. This is the fourth in a series of groundbreaking car games. In fact, to call this a game is probably doing the GT series a disservice. Such is the intricacy of this simulator, that when hooked up to the right set of steering wheel/pedal controls, the feedback and accuracy can be spooky. There are times you actually scare yourself, such is the reality some of the tracks present you with. Added to that, cars I know and love are accurately reproduced on this game – from the way they look, to their balance in corners, each car is a bitmapped, perfect replica of the real thing.
Okay, I may not be an expert on the delights of the real Pagani Zonda in extreme situations at the Nürburgring (but thanks to GT4 I will soon get a pretty good idea), but I do know what an Integra Type-R, Mazda MX-5 and MG TF feel like on bumpy streets, and each one has been faithfully captured pixel-perfectly for the game… When I watched the Mitsubishi Evo VIII being tested on Top Gear last year, just before The Stig muscled it round the track at Dunsfold, my son blurted out, ‘Ugh, it’ll understeer…’
You know what, he was absolutely right. He learned that on GT3, aged 14.
So, the game’s good – but is it really worth all this media hype? Yes, but only just…
And since when have video games had such pulling power, invading popular culture so successfully? Things have come a long way since I unwrapped my Atari 2600 VCS on Christmas morning, 1979, and plugged in Night Driver. Video games are now big business – so big, that the industry now dwarfs Hollywood – and at £30 a pop per PS2 game, one can see why.
So why were all the journos there?
Well, I’m a big videogame fan, and have a thing about cars too (as you might know), so it was a chance to kill two birds with one stone. I was also working – snapping pictures for CCW and Jaguar World Monthly… Many of the others, I just don’t know. It seemed to me to have been nothing more than a giant feeding-frenzy – a chance to strike a deal, have a free drink (or two), take hand-outs, and enjoy a paid night out on Sony.
Welcome to the world of media – I wonder what George Bishop would have made of it all…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
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