Physics muscles in on Cars on PSP

Let's hope it's a pile-up

Physics muscles in on Cars on PSP
| Cars

Realistic physics in games is something traditionally associated with cutting-edge PC and console fare like Half-Life 2 and Gears of War.

But it's a measure of how all-pervasive our desire for rag-dolled bodies and sensibly flying debris has become that the PSP version of Cars – the undeniably kids-focussed game-of-the-Pixar-movie due this summer – also boasts physics modelling brought in by the experts in the field, Dublin-based outfit Havok.

And why not? Children inhabit a world based more on the interplay of physics than desk-bound adults, after all. Think playground swings, ball games, roundabouts – and, of course, joyriding.

Sure, younger kids might not be able to understand what Havok is on about when it reveals it has provided "the rigid body dynamics and collision detection behind the video game Cars". Come to that, our GSCE knowledge is being stretched to the limit. But they – we – should appreciate it when the cars accurately welly it around a corner at speed.

Havok says its vehicle kit enables you to drive and handle anything from cars to jet skis just like a real vehicle. For Cars, the physics was further tweaked to provide additional abilities for the vehicles too, such as jumping, which reflects the actions of the Pixar characters – even if it does stretch our understanding of 'realistic' to the limit.

The physics really kicks in though, according to Havok, during the race sequences, with cars nudging and banging into each other as they jostle for position. Rigid body dynamics enables the game to know exactly where all the cars and objects are, which means it can have them collide, skid, bounce, and slide just as they would in real world situations.

All of which ties in rather well with the Cars movie – Pixar's John Lasseter has stated numerous times that he wanted his cars to move just as realistically as, erm, talking vehicles with smiley faces would in real-life.

But let's not be too sceptical. This is the man who gave us Buzz Lightyear after all, the most realistic talking plastic spaceman toy we've seen since we were five-years old and held conversations with our own.