Gran Turismo HD: Stuck in the Hunny Jar
There's honey inside. Always remember that. No matter how furiously the bees charge out, no matter how many times you get stung, no matter how puffy and swollen your face gets and no matter for how long you stop breathing, remember that there's honey inside. Remember this when you're tempted not to knock the hive out of the tree.
Last week I went after the low-hanging hive that was the recent pseudo-announcement that Gran Turismo HD will ship for the PS3 with limited or nonexistent cars and tracks available for online play. Why did I do this? Because there's honey inside, fool. (Remember?) And this sweet, succulent honey of being right about my deep-seated fear of impending microtransaction-laden doom, was just too tasty to resist.
So now here we are. The bees are swarming, my throat is closing up and I'm still waiting to get my first taste of that sweet honey. Why? Because those are Sony bees, of course, and Sony bees hide their honey very, very well. Maybe it's because they don't speak English. Maybe it's because they love torturing magazine editors. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because they themselves have no idea what the hell they're doing.
Eurogamer is indicating that they've followed up with Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of Gran Turismo, who suggests that the game will be made available very cheaply "as little as the cost of the game disk and instruction manual" and that the goal will be to create downloadable content that people can then use in Gran Turismo 5, whenever that ships, which would seem to make sense given the suggestion that GTHD will be merely a tech demo for the forthcoming fifth game in the series.
Adding to the confusion is the question of whether we're actually talking about one game or two. Some have suggested that the game will be distributed in one package, with both the "Premium" version (high-def content, single-player game) and the "Classic" version (low-def content culled from previous games, with no cars or tracks shipped on the disc, but hundreds of cars and around 50 tracks available online) in one SKU, but recent interviews would appear to set the mark at "two games." Premium will be the "preview" of GT5 and "Classic" will be the one with all of the previous assets re-worked for HD. Exactly which game will cost what remains to be seen.
There is also the suggestion (this coming from an interview with the creators over at Kotaku) that GTHD will be "designed to be more casual, more accessible. It's intended for smaller bites, gaming sessions of 30 minutes. Kaz thinks that there will always be a market for the hardcore GT player, but this is the focus for now." Which seems to belie the notion that we're dealing with a migration toward a more "simulation-centric" model.
So what does all of this mean? Who the hell knows. This is Sony we're talking about after all, and as I said before, they don't speak English. Not even when they're speaking English. What we do know is that GTHD is coming and that it will cost some amount of money and have some amount of content. It's the details we're a bit fuzzy on.
My best guess is that they really have no idea what they're doing here. I'm sure they wanted some GT action for their new $600 console, and gave the guys at PD a pink slip in one hand and a release date in the other, and asked them to choose one. But we'll find out for sure sometime in the near future. November 17th, perhaps.
In the mean time I'd suggest keeping one hand on your wallet when looking at this thing. Because it doesn't seem like you'll be getting a whole lot more than you A) haven't played before; or B) won't be getting again, better when GT5 ships in the spring of godknowswhen. Looks like the goal here is to throw a game-in-progress up onto the PS3's online-service-in-progress and see how much money they can suck out of you to make up for those $1000 blue lasers. But again, more on that as details emerge.
Until then, I'll keep beating away at this damn thing, because, after all, the honey is in there somewhere and I quite honestly have nothing better to do.