Pedal to the metal for Gran Turismo 4

Expect to hear a lot about the hottest motor racing game in town, Gran Turismo 4. Sony Computer Entertainment Australia is spending almost $1.5 million promoting the fourth installment in the popular Gran Turismo series, launched at midnight on Wednesday.

Already, the company will have shipped 130,000 individual copies of the $99.95 rrp racing simulation to retailers, plus an additional 45,000 bundled with PlayStation2 game consoles.

GT4, designed to include authentic cars and race courses and realistic car physics, has been several years in the making. Earlier GT versions have sold over 34 million copies worldwide.

Sony Computer Entertainment Australia managing director, Michael Ephraim, was confident about the newest version's sales future.

"It will no doubt eclipse any other iteration of GT we have launched before," Ephraim said.

To ensure this, the company will promote the game on billboards and a series of advertisements, he said.

Developed by Polyphony Digital, GT4 features up to 100 courses, including Nurburgring, New York City, the Grand Canyon and Fuji Speedway.

Completely new features in GT4 are the photo mode and B-Spec Live mode. Photo mode gives users the opportunity to take more detailed shots of the cars in scenic locations. The B-Spec Live mode allows users to act as a coach to advise their AI-controlled car.

All cars are fully customisable, allowing gamers to play around with everything from racing tyres through to the gear ratios. GT4 also features the biggest variety of cars in the Gran Turismo series, with an emphasis on cars of the '80s and '90s.

Aussie "petrol heads" will especially love the inclusion of famous muscle cars such as Ford's F6 Typhoon, GT Falcon and Ford Falcon XR8, and Holden's Monaro CV8 and Commodore SS.

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Howard Dahdah

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