The Low-Down on Gran Turismo 5′s Damage Modeling

Since damage modeling was announced by Polyphony Digital earlier in the year, it has been under close examination. Gran Turismo 5 is the first in the series to incorporate damage on its precious cars, and its absence has been one of the only major weaknesses noticed by many fans. Now that the game is finally out, online forums and websites have been flooded with players wondering why the damage effects in the game are so underwhelming, and the answer to those concerns is fortunately simple.

In Gran Turismo 5‘s GT Mode, damage isn’t unlocked until the racer reaches level 20. Better yet, several hours later at level 40, the full-feature damage, including mechanical as well as major structural damage, is unlocked. My experience with both so far has been nothing short of impressive. Unlike a few racing games I have played in the last few years, the cars don’t just crumple like paper. Instead, each portion of the car reacts differently, and the violent effects of impact are felt and seen therein.

Below I submit to you Exhibit A. Notice the realistic physics on impact in conjunction with significant physical damage.

While Polyphony Digital’s level-based damage system design is questionable, it has been said that it was an effort to make the game more approachable. The Gran Turismo series has never been particularly welcoming, but GT5 makes several efforts to ease the player into the world of racing simulation. In the earlier races, it’s normal to see a player bumping other cars in an attempt to overtake them. In a real racing environment, this isn’t allowed. Once the game progresses to the Expert series, the game begins to propel the player into a heavier, more punishing racing environment. While it is a bit strange, the damage effects are a sight to behold, and it’s one heck of a reward once that level is reached.

In addition, an SCEE representative stated earlier in the week that more damage effects are forthcoming. With constant updates promised by Kazunori Yamauchi, and the recent v1.03 patch coming sooner than expected, it wouldn’t surprise me if a patch comes out before the end of the year that enhances the mechanical and visual effects of the already stunning damage present in Gran Turismo 5.

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