This week saw the announcement of something rather frothy. The Gran Turismo series is to be further embellished by the addition of Gran Turismo 6! Punch the air, kid!
I like the racing genre. I'm not one of those hardcore types that has a huge, vibrating seat & frame in my front room, the type that dons fireproof overalls before they play and all that. I did once own a steering wheel and pedal set that attached to my desk using suction cups, but I broke it in a jealous fury one evening whilst chasing a pixellated lady on a motorbike in Test Drive Unlimited.
Now, incredibly, 'The Wife' says I can't have another, fancier wheel as it will make our dining room look like a little boys bedroom. She's right, of course, but DAMN HER TO HELL anyway!
Why do I like the racing genre so much? Well, when I was a small idiot I was in love with toy cars, books about cars, films that featured a car briefly, TV shows about cars, posters of cars and just general traffic trundling past my house. So it seems pretty blatant that I'd literally be interested in a video game area that lets you grope so many digitally-represented joy-boxes. Or cars.
Don't worry, I'm not going to launch into an interest-killing list of all the racing games I've sniffed, there are just too many. And I've forgotten lots of them. And I'm untalented. And lazy.
But there is one name that I will never forget. NEVER. If you dare to suggest I will, then I'm afraid I will have to use my internet skills to find you, locate myself in a convenient shrub, and then proceed to 'tut' loudly at you as you leave your home each day. Tremble in fear!
Gran Turismo. GT. Ever since I stood (in 1997 was it?) frozen in my local Morrisons supermarket, a copy of Official PlayStation Magazine gripped in my slowly cramping hands, staring open-mouthed at screenshots of such seductive beauty I think I remember gently whimpering a bit.
So I followed the progress of it, watched it being played on the horrible TV that was 'GamesMaster', read everything I could everywhere I could over and over, and even exploited the friendship of the local 'Electronics Boutique' manager to arrange a pre-release jolly! Excited was an understatement.
I think Gran Turismo was the first game I ever pre-ordered too, in order to get a sexy chrome keyring with the GT logo smeared across it. Man, I wish I still had it, but at that point I had no clue how I'd still be a fan 15 years later. Screw you, hindsight!
So, along with my mate Simon, I collected my pre-ordered knot of gaming hair on launch morning. Upon returning to my Pot Noodle-smelling flat I hungrily inserted the black, logo-stamped disc.
And then this happened, and I'll probably never forget it for as long as I live:
It's probably worth mentioning that the soundtrack is a Chemical Brothers remix of a Manic Street Preachers song, a band which I despised at the time. I obviously had no idea this piece of sonic intro joy was anything to do with them, and they later went on to become my favourite, most-seen band! The gaming world is a strange place full of coincidence & wonder!
That intro. I just.....Wow. I mean, just look and listen. There are no words. It's embossed on my soul!
So I loved Gran Turismo. It just filled my head. And it wasn't just me. A guy I worked with, and this is 100% truth, actually rang me on the phone to play me the revving sounds of the imaginary car he had tuned on his video game. And, after I'd confirmed it was amazingly awesome, he then proceeded to ring a girl he was trying to impress and do the same thing. Incredible! She pitied him, and went on to marry someone else!
Over the years, I have obviously bought every Gran Turismo released, loyal fool I am. And I've loved them all equally. They share a charming blandness, an uncompromising stiffness that only 'The Real Driving Simulator' possesses. The recipe hasn't altered, it's always been about loads of cars, a good representation of physics and an overall sensation of it being made for people that love cars.
Which brings me quickly to a point, for once.
Gran Turismo 6 is apparently the game GT5 was supposed to be, but couldn't due to pressure from serious-looking Japanese executives. I have no idea if this is true, you can research it if you want to!
GT5 was superb in my opinion, it felt like GT to me. I loved the fact that it still wore a well-ironed cardigan, and hadn't bowed to pressure from loud gaming rednecks to 'dumb-down' the handling. Online racing with GT5 was, once you'd gathered enough like-minded murderers, an absolute joy. Hosting lobbies full of good, clean racers was a very rewarding experience, and worth the time & effort it took to weed out all the first-corner kids & Xbox owners! Stupid hill-billies!
GT6 is probably going to be dazzling. Not full of banging dubstep, strobing memes or shrieking, violent children detailing the intimate relationship they have with your Mother. It'll be all strange piano jazz, millions of obscure variants of Nissan cars, a handful of beautifully crafted circuits and those same old BONGS and BINGS that have always accompanied menu choices!
You could say I'm overly excited, but Gran Turismo is a towering monument in my gaming landscape. It's one of those titles that I'll always forgive, I'll always return to and I'll always defend.
I fricken' love it, man. So you should too.
GL & HF!
*YinkYinkYinken is going off on ANOTHER 'Stag do', so this post is written hastily between mouthfuls of porridge & the ironing of underpants. See you next Sunday, loyal readers!