Having confirmed at the Tokyo Game Show that it plans to release Gran Turismo 4 in Europe this year (albeit without online options), Sony this week released vast tracts of information relating to the game, detailing its Director Mode, expanded Gran Turismo World offering, Photo Mode locations, track listing and Mission Race and high score systems.
Director Mode (dubbed "B-Spec") takes the player out of the driving seat and gives them the task of preparing the car properly and directing an AI driver through the race. Players will be able to issue pace commands (ordering the driver to race safely to spare the tyres, or push hard and take risks), order drivers to try and overtake, call them into the pits (where you can make tyre selections and choose a volume of fuel to load), and view the action from the traditional replay view, an onboard camera, or on the race monitor screen, which also provides, lap, sector and other timing information.
You can use Director Mode for any race you like, according to Sony, giving you another option if you don't feel like going hell for leather yourself. Gran Turismo World, meanwhile, will give players the option to explore car dealerships around the world, check in at the Licence Test Centre, which returns on a "much larger scale", visit the Tuner's Village and Music Theatre, and of course book in to races at Race Event Pavilions (set up by genre) and Circuit Areas in the suburbs, with an event at each track.
We already know there will be over 80 car manufacturers featured and some 650 cars, but Sony has now revealed many of the tracks developer Polyphony Digital has crammed in. From Japan there's Fuji Speedway as it was in the 80s and 90s, Tsukuba Circuit 2000, Twin Ring Motegi (full course and oval track variant) and Suzuka; in the US there's Laguna Seca Raceway and Sears Point Raceway; from Europe there's the Nurburgring Nordschleife; and there are a number of city and nature courses too.
City courses include Tokyo R246, Seattle, New York, Hong Kong, Las Vegas Drag Strips, George V Paris, Opera Paris, Core D'Azur, Special Stage Route 5, and Citta di Aria. Nature courses consist of tracks in the Grand Canyon, Swiss Alps, Ice Arena, Grand Valley, Trial Mountain, Midfield Raceway, Snow Lake, High Speed Ring, Amalfee Circuit, Motorsports Land, Tahiti Maze, and Autumn Ring.
Sony still has courses to announce, apparently, but in the meantime we've also been told something of the Mission Races modes and High Score systems which will sometimes govern the outcomes. Mission Races will feature special challenges, like starting one second later in second place, or starting a lap behind and having to try and win the race; while the high score system will reward players racing at a disadvantage in a lesser car with more kudos than players driving more powerful cars against weaker opposition.
Finally, along with details of the locations it plans to use for its Photo Mode (Gion District, Sagano and Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, Tsumago and Shiga Kogen in Nagano, Japan, Shibuya and Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo, Piazza San Marco and Realto Bridge in Venice, Brooklyn and Times Square in New York, an Asian Fish Market, Freemont Street in Las Vegas and Louisberg Square in Boston, USA - phew), Sony also revealed that Epson plans to release a pair of new printers designed to work with GT4 in Japan this winter. The PX-G820 and PX-G920 will support 5,760 by 1,440 dpi resolution, with six and eight-colour printing processes respectively. Both printers will connect to the PS2 via USB port and GT4 should automatically recognise them. They won't be the only options of course, but for now it's not clear which other printers will be recognised.
In other words, what with the incomplete track listing, printing needs and everything else, expect to hear more about Gran Turismo 4 - now offline - ahead of its release in Europe this December, quite possibly on the 17th.