Heading into the release of Gran Turismo Sport - which is next week! - I was a little concerned that some of the series' trademark eccentricity might be lost as part of Polyphony Digital's new streamlined approach. How very wrong I was.
There's a time-limited demo that's currently live on PlayStation Network, and it features a surprisingly generous amount of Gran Turismo Sport. You can enjoy a slice of the campaign, have a crack at the returning licence tests and also participate in the online 'Sport' mode that's the real meat of the game.
You can also delve into all the menus and options within Gran Turismo Sport, where you'll find some of that trademark nuttiness. In Brand Central you're able to browse the game's (somewhat reduced) manufacturers, and several of them come complete with their own museums - timelines that illustrate the history of each company. And accompanying those timelines is a more general historical one, highlighting such significant human achievements as:
Celine Dion releasing My Heart Will Go On.
The Spice Girls releasing Wannabe.
And Marcel Proust being recognised by The Guinness Book of World Records (Marcel would have been delighted, I'm sure).
It's baffling and bizarre, though I find its inclusion kind of heartwarming. There's more practical stuff to be found in Brand Central, such as the ability to stage shots of cars in locations relevant to each particular brand in an extension of the brilliant Scapes feature - so, for example, you can place an in-game model of the McLaren GT3 car in a photo of McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking, to fairly impressive effect.
Or, if like me you've been unlucky enough to have been gifted two Mazda Atenzas in the half a dozen hours you've been playing, you can just endeavour to stage the most boring shot possible in Gran Turismo Sport's regular Scapes mode. In this one I'm parking without a permit - and thereby living on the edge in a new kind of automotive extreme:
And here I am popping to the shops for a pint of milk:
Gran Turismo Sport is out next week, and we'll be looking to bring you the full review not too long after its release.