Scheduled release date:

One of the more visually impressive PS3 demo reels that was shown off at Sony's press conference yesterday showed footage of F1 The Next Generation, which is being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

As the title implies, the game is an F1 racing simulator that when all is said and done will include all of the courses, cars, and drivers from the F1A racing circuit.

The demo reel ran for approximately 2 minutes and was put together using only actual in-game footage recorded off an early version of the game running on PS3 development hardware.

The footage opened with the F1 logo, transitioned to an overhead view of the track, and then showed multiple flybys and views of the track and drivers. It was pretty amazing to see how the PS3 handled the overhead views and transitions. Not once did the graphics become jagged or blend together, which is often what happens when the PS2 has to show a high vantage point of a busy environment.

Once the race began, we were treated to a good 60 seconds worth of bump and grind driving. Everyone in the room was awed by the clarity of the image. Subtle details like streaks in the cement and individual blades of grass were clearly visible as the field of cars drove past. The car models were large and intricately detailed, containing all of the pertinent sponsor logos. The high-resolution of the machine made it possible to make out the fine print writing on the smaller sponsor decals.

As two cars went into a particularly sharp turn, one of them jerked sideways and smashed into a cement wall. Metallic bits, sparks, and paint flew off of the car as it bounced to a slow landing roughly 20 feet away. Right there, in all it's smashed and contorted glory, was the car's front end. The front end was smashed, bent sideways, and twisted. Sunlight was gleaming off of some of the newly-paint-free surfaces. Dark marks and smeared paint were obvious. The graphics were so sharp that it was easy to make out fine details such as tiny scratches in the metal and distortions in the metal where it had been bent. In just that front end alone was more detail than the current PS2 and Xbox are capable of showing. Clearly, the intent of this demo was to get that point across to us.

The trailing moments of the demo were intended to show us how the PS3 can handle large groups of independent objects–in this instance, spectators. Lots of spectators. Forget the cardboard-flat, stoic spectators in the games of old. These people have come to cheer. Each spectator was an independent model with fully realized facial features and body parts. Some people were waving their arms and yelling with mouths wide open. Others were waving flags or jumping up and down. There must have been a good 20,000 spectators in one grandstand… and the camera panned and zoomed to show all of them. At one point, the crowd began to do "the wave," which brought applause from all in attendance, because for once we were seeing a true representation of spectators at a sporting event.

A playable version of F1 won't be ready for some time, but we're already impressed by how far along it is just from the footage we were shown.

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