It may be a clich?, but it's also true: You can't just a book by its cover. You also can't, it turns out, judge a game by its name. Take Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which sounds like a glorified demo, a hefty teaser for Gran Turismo 5, the next chapter in Sony's vaunted racing sim series, which won't be out until we've all grown accustomed to writing 2009 on our checks. It doesn't help that, besides being sold in stores, Prologue will also be downloadable from the PlayStation Store. As we learned when we had some hands-on time with the game at Sony's offices in Santa Monica, not only is Prologue more than a demo, it's actually got more going for it than most racing games. We talked with Associate Producer Chris Hinojosa-Miranda to find out more.
Crispy Gamer: I'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue sounds like a glorified demo. Am I wrong?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: In many ways, yes. I think the way Gran Turismo has been seen in the public's eye, for a long time, is that it has tons of cars and numerous tracks, to the point that it's almost overload. But GT5 Prologue is a condensed version of that -- which doesn't make it a demo. A demo is something you'd play for three days and then you're done. But with the online modes and all the different features, there's a lot in Prologue. There are over 70 cars and six tracks. There are both single- and multiplayer modes. We have Time Trial mode, we have a regular eight- to 16-player races -- that all depends on the tracks; some would be too crowded with 16 cars -- and we have Drift Mode, which is new to the franchise. When you compare Prologue to other racing games, we actually have as much content as they do, sometimes even more.
Crispy Gamer: There were GT Prologue games before this overseas, right?
Hinojosa-Miranda: Right. But they only came out in Japan and Europe. This is just the first time in North America.
Crispy Gamer: You mentioned the game has a new Drift mode. What is that, exactly?
Hinojosa-Miranda: If you go to a Drift event, the judges look at the angle at which you're drifting, and the speed at which you enter and exit the turn, and that's how it works in GT5. You're judged on how you enter the drift, the angle at which you're drifting, and how long you hold it.
Crispy Gamer: Okay, so clearly Prologue isn't a demo. The question then becomes, with Gran Turismo 5 being a year out?
Hinojosa-Miranda: ?not earlier than summer 2009. That's the official standpoint.
Crispy Gamer: Okay, but with GT5 being not that far off, why do this? Why not concentrate your efforts on finishing GT5?
Hinojosa-Miranda: Half of it is because of the fans. People really want to see something. Also, the team is really proud of what they've done so far, a lot of the ideas they've come up with, and they're really excited to share it with the fans.
Crispy Gamer: Is the plan that everything in Prologue will be in GT5?
Hinojosa-Miranda: Yes, all the cars and tracks will be in GT5. Though the amount of content planned for GT5 will dwarf what's in Prologue.
Crispy Gamer: Will it just be cars and tracks, or will GT5 also have some gameplay modes that aren't in Prologue?
Hinojosa-Miranda: Right now I can say definitely cars and tracks, but as for other stuff, we're not ready to talk about that right now.
Crispy Gamer: Now a lot of GT fans downloaded the free, online-only Gran Turismo HD when the PlayStation 3 first came out. Compared to that, has the game changed, both visually and in terms of the controls and handling?
Hinojosa-Miranda: Yes. I think they'll be impressed with how far the game has come since then. The team has had a good window of time to polish certain aspects that GTHD did not really accomplish well -- which sounds horrible, because GTHD was really amazing -- so they've been fine-tuning a lot of things. The visuals are a lot better, and the artificial intelligence has been cleaned up. So I'd say there's been a huge evolution from GTHD to GT5.
Crispy Gamer: When GT5 does come out, will people be able to use their saved file from Prologue in GT5, or will they have to start over?
Hinojosa-Miranda: It'll carry over. We did that with GT3 Prologue and GT4 Prologue when they came out in Japan and Europe, so I think we'll do it again.
Crispy Gamer: Does Prologue use the PS3's motion-sensitive controls to steer?
Hinojosa-Miranda: No, though there is a new Logitech wheel coming out, and the game will be compatible with the new DualShock 3 controller, as well.
Crispy Gamer: Prologue will be available as both a PlayStation Network download and on Blu-ray. Are there any differences between them?
Hinojosa-Miranda: The main difference is that the Blu-ray will include "Beyond the Apex," which is a history of the series. The Blu-ray will also have some extra movies, like the opening cinematic, but you'll be able to download them for free from the PSN.
Crispy Gamer: Are there any plans to have any additional tracks, cars or modes added to Prologue later via download?
Hinojosa-Miranda: That conversation is currently going on, so I won't say yes and I won't say no.
Crispy Gamer: Has there been any thought about letting people who buy Prologue just download all the stuff being added to GT5, or just the stuff they want, instead of making them buy a whole new game?
Hinojosa-Miranda: That's just such a huge technical question and would involve so many parties that I just don't have any idea what might happen.
Crispy Gamer: Will people who buy Prologue get a discount on GT5 when it comes out?
Hinojosa-Miranda: That's actually something that would have to be decided by a different department.
Crispy Gamer: So will there be a free demo version of Prologue available on the PlayStation Network?
Hinojosa-Miranda: I don't know. Nothing's planned, and with the game about to come out [April 15th in stores, April 17 on PSN], I kind of doubt it.