I spent yesterday evening hanging around an underground car park near London’s Park Lane. Why? Because the launch of the new Gran Turismo 5 racing game was taking place in this strange setting, and I wanted a go. 

Sony had taken over (and cleaned up) the tarmac maze of tunnels and parking lots that are hidden underneath Hyde Park in the middle of the capital. This usually dank, dim-lit place is more often full-to-burst with plush BMW and Mercedes saloons owned by advertising execs who work in Soho.

But for one night only the PlayStation people filled this boring parking netherworld with supercars, games consoles, grid girls, beer and burgers. And set the mood with the sort of lighting you’d expect to find in an upmarket vodka bar

It seemed a fine stage to launch the most realistic car game I’ve ever seen. Touches like the almost perfect interiors and fetishistic attention to detail are impressive. Then you notice, as you storm past in last year’s Ferrari F1 car, that the shops on Charing Cross road and the signs on Piccadilly Circus have been painstakingly and accurately recreated.

Our own John McIlroy has been playing GT5 Prologue from the comfort of his sofa for the last week, so he’s better qualified to tell you about the game here.

While I like a bit of thumb-twiddling too, I’m no video games buff. I’d need a very good reason to go and spend £300 on a PlayStation 3. Unfortunately for my bank account, I think this evolution of Gran Turismo could be it.