Gran Turismo Sport Trailer’s Missing Graphics, Low Fidelity Leaves Fans Disappointed
(Last Updated On: May 21, 2016)

Due out on November 15th, exclusively for the PS4, Gran Turismo Sport features 137 cars, 19 locations, 27 track layouts and six different game modes. Sony released the official trailer for the game but not everyone is falling head over heels for the rather poor in-game graphics display that we see from the upcoming Polyphony Digital racer.

The Star picked up the trailer that was recently posted, featuring more than three and a half minutes of in-game play, replay footage and the very impressive photo mode. You can check out the trailer below.

YouTubers were not entirely pleased with the graphics fidelity of the game.

Samar Kidwai wasn’t afraid to lay it all out, writing…

“Sorry to say but driveclub has better graphics despite being 30 fps….”

Angelo Monteiro joined in as well, writing…

“I’m I the only one who thinks the graphics aren’t so good for PS4?”

Buzz1991 took it a step harsher, writing…

“Tell me that this is not early PS3. Low res textures, no grass, low details. Just bad. Project Cars and Forza Motorsport look way better.”

While these are just a few of the many comments – and most are actually rather receptive of the game – there’s a general theme of people being disappointed with the graphics, noting that Driveclub looks better. After really combing through the trailer, they do actually have a point. Let’s start with the image below.

Image16

As you can see in the image above, the shadow cast from the bridge – while obviously dynamic and not pre-baked – it betrays the game’s graphical fidelity. The bridge shadow – based on the current pixel steps – looks to be buffering at only half the resolution of the game’s internal resolution. So it’s likely rendering the shadows at a resolution less than 1024 x 1024.

The reason for the low resolution shadow maps is likely due to day and night shifting and real-time dynamic shadow movement to reflect the change in the time of day. It’s a common tactic used for games like this and to “straighten” out those shadows would require a fairly beast rig, something that the PS4 is not.

And it’s not just the pixel counters who are picking up on the jaggies and poor graphics fidelity. Many of the standard Joe Blows are seeing it, too. Some of the Sony Defense Force have come out of the woodwork – having laid dormant throughout the end of the PS3 era and most of the PS4’s reign – to excuse the game as being in pre-alpha. As pointed out by most gamers who are now savvy to the workings of the PR machine, they calmly explained that Gran Turismo Sport is due for release on November 15th, so there’s not a lot of changing and overhauls to be made between now and November.

The smoke effects are okay, but it seems like they haven’t really stepped up much since the PS3’s incredible alpha effects from Gran Turismo Prologue from so many years back. In fact, the smoke effects are nothing more than alpha sprites – when the cars roll through the spinout there’s no suction created from the cars’ aerodynamics. The smoke stays static; thus the smoke is not made of volumetric particles, something one would have expected by now in the eighth generation of gaming.

Gran Turismo Sport - Image23

There’s also the factor of the missing skid marks in the grass at the 1:20 mark where we don’t see any kind of effect on the environment after the car slips and slides on the grass.

Worse yet is that at the shot near the end of the trailer, we see that the car reflections mirror the environment at only 15fps, taking away some of the luster of the reflection effects.

On the upside, the photo mode is pretty sweet, and so long as the PS4 doesn’t have to render moving objects, you get some really high quality, high fidelity output.

Gran Turismo Sport - Image19

The highlight of the photo mode is that all those jaggies from the shadow maps that don’t render so well when the cars are in motion, and all of the missing shader effects on the vehicles during the race, are practically erased. We get proper, natural lighting that rivals some of the best path tracing techniques out there, and if you weren’t properly paying attention you might even be fooled to think that some of those shots from the photo mode are from real life car commercials.

Gran Turismo Sport - Image20

Also worth noting is the tessellation and natural particle effects on the ground from the displacement mapping, such as the gravel and small pebbles littered about. This was something that we saw introduced with Project CARS last year, where the track debris rumbles and bounces at the behest of the motorized beast that travel down the speedways of greatness.

You get a nice look at those kind of effects in the photo of the Alpine supercar.

Gran Turismo Sport - Image21

Now despite the in-game graphics and race mode physics not being the most top notch, there are some things that Polyphony pulled off in the photo mode that is absolutely exquisite.

In the one shot with the Dodge Charger SRT sitting at the edge of the cliff overlooking the river, the shot is perfect. The rendering is perfect. The water effects are perfect. If no one had said that this was Gran Turismo Sport, I never would have known that it was a video game. The natural light reflection off the lake is pretty much spot on realistic. And the subtle translucency from the below surface where the sandbank is actually gives the entire thing the sort of legitimacy to fool the average viewer into thinking that they’re looking at real life.

Gran Turismo Sport - Image22

Polyphony may have failed to make the PS4 look impressive with the in-game play but they succeeded far and beyond with the photo mode.

Anyway, Gran Turismo Sport is due for release on November 15th for the PS4, later this year. Also, expect to see a lot more from the game at this year’s E3, where Sony will probably try to rectify the general impression of the game. Alternatively, feel free to learn more by visiting the official website.


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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Bitterbear

    Oh no! This game is permanently ruined because of a jagged shadow that no one else will notice unless they freeze a frame on Youtube!

  • Mr.Towel

    Pre-alpha argument is bullshit, the game is very close to release by this release window, they have few months of development… if it doesn’t get delayed, common for Polyphony.

    What is retarded is that there a great range of cheap techniques to solve many of the problems. The smoke effect is ridiculous, SotC had a better smoke and that was simple mapping on PS2, they don’t have a clue how to work with particle effects.

    One very likely reason for why the games looks so bad is probably because of VR mode. The game is probably being done from the ground for VR, and as the tales around the web tell us, that is serious heavy stuff for PS4, forcing the game to sacrifice fidelity for stability. Driveclub VR shows the same signs, it’s graphical fidelity is at a lower grade compared to the vanilla game.

    I do hope they at least have full model interiors for all the cars… shitboxes with full model interiors…

    • The VR thing makes a lot of sense, and you’re probably right. Heck, the smoke thing could have been done with a simple sprite animation (or a call to draw smaller smoke sprites from the car driving through the smoke) but all of that is taking away resources from maintaining frame-rate, and if this is going to run on the PlayStation VR then it makes sense that they’d have to cut every corner possible to keep the game from dipping below 60fps.

  • giygas

    Anyone remember Gran Turismo 5? They modeled about two dozen cars, a few tracks, then copy/pasted the rest of the assets from GT4. Photo mode was about the only thing that wasn’t a cop-out. I don’t have high expectations for these guys anymore.