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Gran Turismo 5 a sales hit

Gran Turismo 5 is predicted to sell more than 10 million copies, outranking Hollywood movie blockbusters and enshrining the game's status as the most realistic car racing simulator on the market.

More than 2.5 million copies have reportedly been sold in the first week (Sony won't confirm or deny).  With the Christmas rush to come, the company is banking on a software and hardware (you need a PlayStation 3 to play) bonanza.

"Gran Turismo 5's first four days in Australia has exceeded our sales expectations and we are receiving great feedback on the title from consumers.  Numbers will be shared in due course, however, we can confirm that after the recent opening weekend this is the biggest  exclusive release on PlayStation 3 ever in Australia," a Sony spokesperson says.

Nothing has come close to dethroning the title as the must-own four-wheeled franchise. No matter whether you're playing for fun or using the game to learn tracks before actually racing on them, it's focus on physics hasn't been seriously challenged.

It's a testament to the game's popularity - and credibility - that carmakers are queueing up to place their vehicles in the game.  Mercedes-Benz launched its SLS AMG on the cover of the console game and Toyota also collaborated closely with the developers in creating some of their vehicles.

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey was impressed enough to create the 450km/h X1 virtual grand prix racer as an exercise in how quickly an F1 car can go if there are no rules to slow it down.

Retailing giant Harvey Norman mounted a huge advertising campaign before the game's launch, expecting game sales to help sell PS3 consoles in the lead-up to Christmas. And early indications are it will, with plenty of parents seen leaving shopping centres with a PS3 under their arm.

And the the more you play it, the better it becomes. Game creator Kazunori Yamauchi was criticised in early reviews for not making the damage realistic enough, but it turns out you have to earn the right to damage the machinery.

Gran Turismo 5 has a progessive damage setup and while the first level is the barely credible "pinball effect" where bouncing off cars or scenery slows the vehicle down without any appreciable mechanical problems, the following levels will hurt your ability to keep racing at the front of the pack.

It's only when you rank up to level 20 that the damage becomes seriously evident as the physics engine alters the mechanical modelling.  Level 40 reportedly unlocks near-realistic damage modelling.

A second patch was released last weekend (there was one at launch on November 25) to address the online gaming issues, many of which resulted from the huge number of people trying to join multiplayer races.

Polyphony allowed for 500,000 gamers to be online at once, but were swamped in the first week.  Complaints of gamers minimising weight and maxing power to ludicrous levels also forced Yamauchi to limit those issues in the latest patch - and he has hinted more is in store for both single-player and online modes as GT5 "evolves like a living creature".