Developed By: Polyphony Digital
Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4 & 5
Reviewed On: PS5
Review Code Provided By PlayStation Asia
I’ve had my reservations about Gran Turismo 7 (GT7) since it was first announced. I was worried the game would just be a refined version of Gran Turismo Sport (GTS) which is a great game, but the focus on Online Racing in GTS was something I have little passion for. I like cars and how I can drive and race them in a video game, but I don’t need to become a professional race driver and the content in GTS felt to me that it was curated towards that direction. So, after some announcements and reveals later and it was shown that GT7 would abide more to the numbered series where the focus will be balanced between Solo and Online play, my reserved feelings turned into excitement.
The game’s file is the size of a Godzilla at more than 100GB, so depending on your internet connection, it could take a while to download this baby. But thankfully, after a certain download threshold, players can start the game and enjoy GT7’s Music Rally mode while the game completes its downloading in the background.
The Music Rally itself is a new single-player mode where drivers race to the tune of Music. The objective in this mode is to see how far you can drive before the music or timer runs out. Drivers gain more time by hitting each checkpoint (like time extension runs) and the driven mileage is accumulated at the end of the music to determine if the driver had won Bronze, Silver, or Gold (or failed entirely).
There are 6 music tracks we can run Music Rally on with Polyphony Digital promising to add more in the near future. It’s a fun and casual driving experience mini-game that I’ve found myself keep returning to whenever I take a break from racing and livery editing.
GT games have always looked beautiful, especially GTS which was an absolute stunner to look at. But GT7 has managed to look even more realistic and beautiful and I am never tired from looking at it. If you have a 4K HDR-compatible monitor or tv, you’re in for a sweet treat. If you don’t, you’d still get a treat but one with less sugar probably.
There are two visual modes in the game – the Prioritise Frame Rate mode gets the game running on 60 FPS which is a must for races to be enjoyed to their fullest experience, and the Prioritise Ray Tracing mode that caps it at 30 FPS but with, well, Ray Tracing.
I’d enjoy my racing activities on the frame modes and then switch it to RT mode when I play around with Scapes and when I really want to be visually pampered. But even on the frames mode, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a lot because the game was still eye-catching beautiful. I’ve found myself turning off all interfaces during my race (only on tracks that I know well!) just so that I can take in all the elements and details without distractions.
Puddles of water would form around the track when it rains but part of the track where the racing line is would be drier because water cannot pool where cars kept going through. The water spray from the vehicle in front when it rains is a real looker but I often don’t have the time to appreciate it because it blinds me from any depth perception and the overall view of what’s ahead. It’s dangerous especially when I opt for a cockpit view but it’s thrilling and hypnotising to look at.
My only complaint is the seemingly dull and generic building design, most notably when I race in the Tokyo Expressway track. The graphic quality and details for the road didn’t seem to extend to the building’s boring and plain design.
Return Of Campaign Mode!
The campaign mode in GT7 comes in the form of the Cafe where players would be given a menu that lists out the objectives they need to achieve. These are usually cars related to a genre or manufacturers, or a task to obtain a certain license or win some competitions. Progressing through the Cafe objective opens up more functions like the Sports mode, Online Races, GT Auto, Garage, Tuning Shop, Brand Central, Used Car Dealer, Legendary Car Shop, Driving License, and Missions.
The campaign is rich and substantial enough to keep drivers occupied, especially those with a heavier interest in single-player modes. But what’s most exciting about the Cafe to me is how it’s more than just a quest giver. Upon the completion of car collecting objectives, the Cafe manager will give drivers a short briefing over the historical value and impact those cars have had on the automobile and racing industry. This is done through cutscenes showing the cars involved in Gran Turismo’s trademarked picturesque quality graphics.
Being walked down the memory lane and information has a certain classy touch to it because we are not just driving and racing in GT7, but also learning and celebrating the value and legacy these vehicles and the minds behind them have made to the industry. To those already informed, the scenes can be easily skipped and they can just move on. But as for me, I’ve not missed a single one of them because they are fun to indulge in and the duration is short enough to not feel like a drag.
Several objectives later, the Cafe prompted me to take on the first of the series’ famous driving licenses at the Driving School. There are several licenses drivers can obtain in GT7 namely the National B License, National A, International B, International A, and the Superlicense. Obtaining them would expand the racing opportunity and roles in the game. Some of the tests can feel unforgiving at first but after giving them enough tries, I start to get passable results. There’s also a demo reel showing how the Pros bring home the Gold trophy in these tests but drivers can qualify with just a Bronze.
Haptics And The DualSense
When Sony said we could feel whatever surface we drive over and feel those bumps, I half thought they were exaggerating because the games that we’ve seen on the PS5 so far have all under-utilised the haptics features but I’m glad that wasn’t the case here. In fact, the haptic effects in GT7 are the best I’ve seen in a PS5 game since Astro Playroom.
The DualSense gave a mighty performance when it comes to letting me feel the appropriate sensation for whatever surface I drove on, or when my wheels climbed over a curb and when my gear shifted. It was a surreal experience when I drove over a puddle of water and feel on my controller how my tyres ‘floated’ over the water surface and lose grip momentarily. The adaptive triggers actively react whenever my brake or accelerator locks during a bad turn or drive and it wasn’t just a subtle fight, they actually fight hard enough to give me a genuine fright that I would spin out.
The car handling mechanism in GT7 feels more or less the same as GTS but the biggest takeaway here is how much control you have now over your vehicle because of the added haptics and DualSense features. Before this, I relied solely on my eyes and hand coordination to see if the car is doing what I want it to and whether it can meet that expectation. In GT7, that sense of control is enhanced by the DualSense, giving me a much better idea of how a particular car would react and that information lets me know if I was pushing it too close to its limits. The extra feedback that I am getting from the controller helps me to become a better driver because I understand the car more quickly and the added knowledge helps not just in driving but also gives me an idea of what I needed to adjust in my tuning sheet.
The added advantage from the lively and strong Haptic feedback made driving in GT7 a brilliant experience, but couple that with the new weather effects and day/night cycle, driving in GT7 is top-notch. Words alone cannot describe the feeling as I entered into a pre-evening race and watch as the sun sets and the environment gets darker. The transition happens so seamlessly and naturally that it feels as though I was driving in real life.
I once loaded into a race with dark clouds building in the sky and paid no attention to it only to have my position on the track ruined beyond recovery as the rain arrived a few laps later. I went for a retry and set my ride with a set of Intermediate tyres for the anticipated rain ahead and started the race again. To my surprise, the rain was already pouring as my race began. This dynamic weather change sometimes makes races unpredictable but it only adds to the sense of realism.
Accessible To Newcomers
A colleague of mine once told me he’d find GT games intimidating because of the technical skills and know-how needed to enjoy the game. I actually agree with him because up to GTS, GT games did feel like they were designed to cater to a very specific and niche group of Sim Driving elitists. But GT7 tackles this issue quite well by introducing the 3 driving modes – Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced. Beginners level driving mode comes with all the assistance turned on, including braking, steering, traction control, driving lines, braking zones, etc. This means more people, especially those new to Sim driving and GT would find pleasure in driving and racing here too.
With over 90 layouts and 400 models of cars, racing is as fun it gets in GT7. Not only do I have ample tracks and cup competitions to choose from, but I also have the Sports mode and Online races should I feel the urge for competitive racing or to improve my ratings. Each of the tracks has its own set of competitions and drivers can choose between participating in those cup races with its own set of rules, or the normal arcade race, time trial, drift trial, and custom races with the driver’s own rules.
Meeting Place is a new online feature where drivers can enter the track and just casually drive around at their own pace in their preferred vehicle with other players. This is a non-competitive lobby where everyone just drives around doing their own things and messing about presumably. This could potentially be fun as drivers mix around and show off their rides and design but I will have to wait for the game’s launch to experience this because I’ve not seen other reviewers in this space.
Online Races are hard to come by whenever I play the game due to timezone differences maybe, but whenever I do get into one, it’s always fun and game. Starting a race without PP limit and Class restriction always see everyone bringing all sorts of ride that usually results in a total melee at the first corner. I try to have a clean race as much as I can
Other than the normal racing modes, there’s also the Mission mode where drivers get to tackle a specific set of racing objectives. I find this mode similar to the Driving School but this one rewards better and isn’t as unforgiving.
But as much as I love racing in GT7, there is one aspect of it that I don’t understand. Breaks are not allowed between races when I participate in a Championship event that consists of several races. Imagine running two races back to back but wanting to take a break to do something else in the game before coming back to it but not able to because the game doesn’t allow that. The only option the game has was to retire from the championship entirely, forcing me to begin anew if I want to do it again. This is quite kinda brutal and uncalled for and I see absolutely no merit in this design. There’s a championship event later on that has 5 races in it and it was a pain in the ass to soldier through them in one sitting.
Tuning And Customisations
Tuning and customisations are back in GT7 after many complaints about their absence in GTS. Each car can be modded by buying parts for them and there are over 60 parts available per car. Upon purchasing the parts, drivers can tune their rides via the tuning sheet to adjust their preferences. It is here that drivers can turn their cars from street racers to track runners. With the right parts, I can also mod my ride into a Rally suitable beast or into a stylish Drifter.
With the return of GT Auto, drivers can also bring their ride for servicing after any wear and tear. This includes functions like Oil Change, Engine Overhaul, Rigidity improvement, or even a car wash and body widening service. Fancy a car from the used dealership but the clocked mileage has put you off? Just bring it to the service center and overhaul its engine. Troubled that your car is losing power? Just bring it to the service center and overhaul its engine.
Livery and Scapes
But it’s not all about racing and cars in GT7. There’s also an artistic side to it where photo bug drivers can enjoy the now expanded Scapes mode, featuring over 2500 spots around the world where they can take amazing HDR photos. I haven’t messed about Scapes too much because I’m not a gifted photographer. I am also not a gifted livery designer but somehow but I’m aspiring to be a good one.
Whatever design I’ve created or photos that I’ve taken in Scapes can be shared on the automotive social media in the game. Players can post their designs and receive likes, reposts, follows, and even comments from other players. The only thing missing here is a built-in translator because I’ve received some comments from drivers in Japan, but I’ve no idea what they said. But all in all, the social media function is a nice touch that allows drivers to share their creativity and moments together. You can even share videos of your race for everyone to admire or have a good laugh.
The Online-Only Requirement Is A Pain
Like GTS, GT7 comes with an unwelcome feature that mandates an active internet connection should you want your progress to be saved. As a matter of fact, only two modes work offline – Arcade and Music Rally. So if you don’t have an internet connection or live in an area with an unstable internet connection, GT7 will be a very bad experience for you.
With all that’s been said and done, I’ll sum up my experience and verdict on GT7 as such.
What I Liked
- Excellent graphics
- Expanded Livery mode and Scapes
- Accessible to newcomers
- Great Haptics
- Day/Night Cycle and the new weather system were great.
What I Wished Was Better
- Online requirements should be more lenient if not gone.
- Breaks between races should be allowed in championships (single-player)
- Building design and quality were dull and generic.
Gran Turismo is back in style and GT7 encompasses both the best and most celebrated features from the numbered GT series and GT Sport in addition to its own coolly done new features. The game is an absolute blast to race in and folks using the controller, especially, will find themselves experiencing an unmatched sensation elsewhere. This is the best GT game to date but it would have been perfect if the game wasn’t so strict with its online requirement.