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“Oh, my dad plays that game.” I can only imagine if you are like me and had a father figure in your life that wasn’t intimidated by such technological feats as texting on a Samsung Toco or navigating ‘the Facebook,’ this quote is something you relate to or at least heard quite a lot in the heyday of the Gran Turismo series.
In an era when arcade racers were all there was on offer for the gaming motorsport enthusiast, this series broke the mold and, to this day, prides itself on its position within the genre as a dedicated driving simulator.
The racing series has always valued authenticity over chaotic fun seen in titles of the era like Ridge Racer and Burnout, for example. It has always strived to have the most licensed vehicles, to have the most authentic and true-to-life models. Then when you compare in-game tracks to their real-world counterpart, the attention to detail has always been staggering.
Now, you may be asking why all of this is relevant. Well, it seems that history is repeating itself. We are currently experiencing a gaming generation who are enamored by arcade-style racing above all else, which has been to the benefit of Xbox and the Forza series in recent years.
This is undoubtedly due to a couple of back-to-back misfires from Polyphony Digital and their most recent GT outings, most recently GT Sport, that decided to remove any semblance of a single-player campaign. Thus relinquishing the series’ monopoly on the racing genre and allowing many new titles to flourish.
So, this brings us to the cliff’s edge that the GT series stands on today. The series is at a critical stage and has a lot to prove. It has a responsibility to the fans to give them what has been lacking for the last decade.
There is a need for the series to find a structure that revolutionizes a tired model. Plus, there is a huge pressure from the gaming collective to appeal to the arcade-loving casual racer.
So, in this review, we aim to warm up our tires, take the racing line and see if this title takes the gold medal or if this one is yet another title that is running on empty. Join us as we take a look at Gran Turismo 7 on PS5!
A Feast For The Eyes
Let’s get into things, starting with the visuals, as they will undoubtedly be the aspect of this video game that you immediately notice and gasp in a state of wonderment. GT as a series hasn’t always been trusted to offer a gaming experience that appeals to gamers outside of the simulator niche. However, what the series has always been trusted to do, is produce a name that is visually striking, leading the way in terms of photorealism.
Well, this hasn’t changed here, and with standards in the modern era becoming tougher and tougher to exceed, this is quite a leap forward. Through the power of the new hardware, features like HDR, Ray-Tracing, and systemic attention to detail that intrinsically seems to come from all GT titles, this iteration produces graphics that are truly hard to distinguish from real-world racing footage.
I know we have lived through eras where huge polygons and jagged character models dominated the landscape and stated, ” How can gaming look better?” but this time, it feels like we have peaked. When you blur the lines of reality, it’s hard to see a level beyond that.
The tracks on offer here are as true to their real-life counterparts as they possibly can be, as are the car models on offer. However, I feel that the team deserves credit for working hard to make the set dressing elsewhere look the part too. The game isn’t dominated by cold, heartless UI.
Instead, the player visits areas within a world that are fully modeled and just as richly detailed as the tracks you race on. Do you want to go to the dealership? Then you physically go there, and it looks as luxurious and lavish as you would expect.
Or perhaps you want to go to your local Autoshop. Again, you can, and you will be able to change your oil, wash your car and feel like you are actually within this world, rather than a racing droid selecting options like in past GT titles.
We could spend an eternity breaking down and praising the smallest visual details included in this title, from the authenticity of the car interiors to the beauty of sunlight bounding off glistening track after heavy rainfall, but we want to save all these discoveries for you. All you need to know is that they are sublime and that GT7 leaves no stone unturned.
Now, if you would have told me that Gran Turismo 7 was going to go back to its roots, listen to the outcries of the fans, and include a traditional single-player mode worth my time, I’d have probably have laughed for the length of time it takes to do a lap of the Nurghnberg Ring.
However, an egg is well and truly on my face, as this title has done just that, embracing some modern aspects, and offering some new concepts, while ultimately returning to a Grand Tour format that we haven’t seen since the glory days of Gran Turismo 4.
This is achieved through a world map that, while more compact than its GT4 predecessor, is a very familiar layout and one regular pit-stop that players will make on their travels throughout this game, the GT Cafe.
This is a feature that asks players to complete collections, which serves as the core gameplay loop of the game. Players will need to collect clusters of related cars to complete menus, and in doing so, this unlocks more features and allows the player to process.
I’m not naive to the fact that this transparent collection-heavy style won’t appease everyone, but in my opinion, the collecting of cars, the reward cars earned from winning races, and the ability to play around with car options in your garage to meet racing criteria where all the core aspects that made the most successful games in the franchise exactly that.
It’s no longer a random lottery, as seen in GT Sport. It is a game with a clear progression system and one that isn’t flawed, locking players out of end-game content like in GT5.
It keeps players engaged, guides them through each aspect of the game beautifully, and if you are a more arcade-oriented racer who is willing to give this simulator approach a try, the onboarding process is one of the best I have seen in a racing game, especially of this complexity. So this deserves props, and I’m more than happy to give dole them out.
Then to expand on GT Cafe, we have to commend the developer for leaning into the history of each brand and model and appealing to the car buffs and enthusiasts who adore this series.
Providing a single-player format was a move that was perhaps a decision made to appeal to the avid gamers and casual racers in their ranks. However, GT Cafes’ extensive car breakdowns and reams of content on car history and specs is a decision made for the experts, and we have to admire the balance struck here.
However, this effort to embrace the familiar doesn’t work across the board, and the most poignant example this the lack of new vehicles included within this game, which has been an ongoing complaint for many years now.
I understand that licenses for vehicles of this stature aren’t cheap, but when you let a precedent in past iterations, you have to continue to deliver or face the unavoidable scrutiny that will come. So, in short, we wish we would have seen more new cars here, but the fact that we don’t isn’t a dealbreaker.
That Doesn’t Slap
We won’t dwell on this too long, as quite frankly, it was a misfire that isn’t worth either of our time dealing with, but we have to touch on the music rally feature. Polyphony Digital considered this a real selling point for this game and a way to engage the more arcade-attuned racers.
However, this is a dry, simplistic and underwhelming feature that showcases how much better alternative studios are at producing fun game modes like this. You don’t see Forza including thousands of ways to fine-tune the physics and parts of their car models, and that’s because that would highlight how much better the GT series is at this skill.
So, it baffles me that GT wouldn’t stay in its lane and just offer a standard arcade mode for local multiplayer purposes.
We obviously could have overlooked this if GT7’s soundtrack slapped so hard that it seemed unthinkable not to include a music-oriented game mode somehow, even if they had to shoehorn it in. However, aside from some exceptions to the rule like ‘Vroom’ and ‘Life’s Coming In Slow,’ the soundtrack isn’t that remarkable. It comes across like a hipster trying to show you how cool their self-professed, profound music playlists are, and it just didn’t hit the mark.
Fine Tuning With New Parts
We need to touch on the core gameplay and how the cars drive in this game, and it may be a little shocking that this section isn’t all that long, but there isn’t a lot of new and interesting things to say here that will appeal to the average gamer.
Sure, there are new custom options that allow you to fine-tune your car within an inch of its life and shave those vital milliseconds off your lap times, but to the untrained eye, this game plays just like the last, and that is perfect in our book.
While GT Sport had its flaws, one thing you cannot say is that the game is not a truly authentic driving simulator, and GT7 follows in its footsteps by sticking with that formula.
The best way to argue this approach of evolution over revolution is that this game series has been used to train real-world professional racing drivers. The simulation is that advanced, so who are we to say that they need to up their game. So nothing new to report on this front.
However, what has changed is the hardware that is at GT’s disposal, and one of the aces up Sony’s sleeve concerning the PS5 in this apparent console war has been the Dualsense controller.
GT7 makes great use of this new controller, offering haptic feedback everywhere, from the roar of the crowd on the track to the light pitter-patter of rain on a windshield or simply a clean little bump as you jump between menu options.
It just feels like every way they could have used the Dualsense, they have, and this even extends to motion control. Players will be able to use the more modern sensors in the Dualsense to steer with incredible precision.
Long gone are the primitive and frankly useless Sixaxis motion controls. We aren’t exaggerating when we say that this option feels like using a steering wheel, so even if it’s not your cup of tea, give it a try for the novelty, if nothing else.
Building A Community
GT as a series has been criticized over the last few years for leaning into the world of online multiplayer gaming, sacrificing the single-player audience that helped build the franchise’s reputation. However, to that, we say, what game series with any clout in the online market hasn’t done this? It’s their prerogative.
However, what we will concede, is that the balance has always been off, and it has always felt like Polyphony Digital have been trying to gamify the system and make their game into a marketplace of sorts, not unlike Square Enix’s approach when making Marvel’s Avengers, and we all remember how that turned out.
The community aspect always seemed to be fabricated, and the game seemed cold as a result. So, once again, they have listened, and we have new interesting options.
There is a contribution channel where players can post their in-game-created content, like unique photos created in photo mode, for example.
There is a dedicated multiplayer hub that is much more inviting, and what I love most about this approach is that the team has put their world champ drivers front and center, featuring them heavily in the game as AI drivers, license instructors, and more.
It’s a smart move that shows the strength of the online platform and the competitive scene this game has, and this serves as a subtle advertisement to players working their way through single-player content.
Multiplayer feels like a natural step on your progression rather than a key feature that the game relentlessly funnels you towards, and that is a very welcome change.
An Ode to National Licence A-9
Then lastly, I thought I would showcase the authenticity and minute attention to detail that this game offers through an anecdote of frustration and eventual elation.
As you work your way through the game, you will eventually be treated to the licenses portion of the game. These are quick tasks that teach you core driving and racing skills that ultimately make you a better, more technically gifted driver.
These often begin quite easy and gradually get harder as you rise through the license categories. Well, the A-9 challenge is a real pain in the ass, and that is being generous.
Perhaps it was just my incompetence when it comes to hairpin turns that caused this issue, or perhaps it was an unplanned difficulty spike, but either way, I was stuck and repeating the same twenty-second challenge, again and again, refusing to accept less than gold, as is my nature.
Throughout this process, I tried everything to tinker and make this process easier, aside from using assistance options, of course. I found myself altering the TCS meter or heading into the car settings to weaken the Countersteering measures, and these small details pushed me ever closer to this needed time.
I must have repeated this process about one hundred times at least, and as I played, afternoon soon turned into evening. So throughout this anguish, I watched as with each repeat of this task, the skies both in-game and out my bedroom window darkened in tandem, and this small detail was enough to keep me going and get that gold.
That and the sheer refusal to be beaten. In that time, the game also recorded my total fuel consumption the mileage I put on the clock and referred me to demonstrations that would help me navigate this task.
Why does this matter? Well, if you are an arcade racer, then I’m sure it doesn’t, but this is a microcosm of the beauty of GT’s design.
GT is relentlessly real, meticulously crafted, and assuredly intentional in all things. It may come across to others as boring, rigid, and dull, but I hope that anecdote goes some way to show that all the details culminate to make one truly remarkable experience.
The Real Driving Simulator
I find myself, after years of constant disappointment, most enjoyably proved wrong and put in my place by this return to form for the series.
While there are certainly some missteps here for sure, like the overindulgence in the musical curation, or the reliance on older, already featured vehicles over new exciting prospects, this game does a lot of the things that fans have been asking for, for a long time.
The game brings back a traditional single-player format with a world map, avoiding the missteps of GT5. Gran Turismo 7 ups the production value to offer visuals that are often hard to distinguish from reality. The game adds fun new features and makes use of the PS5 hardware superbly.
It leans into its simulator niche with great effect, offering more customizations and considerations than anyone outside of the world of motorsport would ever need. Plus, GT finally strikes that balance that it has been trying to do for over a decade.
The balance between fun gameplay, simulation, and online community. This game is exactly what GT fans have been waiting for all these years, and while I’m as shocked as anyone that the bellows and screams of the fans have finally been heard, you won’t catch me complaining. I’ll be too busy burning rubber and chasing chequered flags.
- The Visuals on offer in GT7 are so polished and refined that they often blur the lines between digital fabrication and our reality. The models, the tracks, right down to the rain droplets on your windshield. Stunning!
- The fact that the game has gone back to its roots and offered a world map format and a rich single-player experience last seen in GT4 is arguably the biggest selling point for long-time fans.
- Iconic tracks like Trial Mountain make a return, Missions make a return, and staples of the series like the license challenges remain.
- GT7 uses the PS5 hardware phenomenally, from the adaptive triggers mimicking foot pedals to the staggeringly tight motion sensor-controlled steering
- GT7 still finds ways to make this series an even more true-to-life racing simulator, with more custom options, more minute details, and, best of all, the game leans into its driving community, putting their world championship drivers in the spotlight.
- The arcade aspects of the game feel like a failed attempt to pander to those gamers more inclined to player racers like NFS, Forza, The Crew, etc.
- The game tries to force their playlist of tunes down the player’s throat. It may be subjective, but this isn’t a stellar soundtrack aside from some standout tunes. Someone didn’t get the memo.
- It seems that B-Spec mode is dead and buried, which is a dying shame.
Answer: Yet bet it is, so you won’t find this franchise on any other platform. Meaning that all of you Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC gamers will have to invest in a PS4 or PS5 if you want to enjoy this one. Plus, don’t count on that ever-changing as this series has been a Sony-owned product since way back in 1997.
Answer: You don’t start the game with any cars at all. The player is given some cash, 20,000 in-game credits, to go to the used car dealership and buy themselves a motor. You’ll have the choice of a few Japanese Hybrids, to begin with, but as the game progresses, you’ll soon find that your garage is overflowing with shiny fast cars. So keep saving up credits and winning races if you want to collect all of the best cars around.
Answer: We were expecting a pretty big file size from GT7, considering that after quite a few updates, GT Sport’s file size comfortably sits at over 100GB. However, we weren’t expecting the file to exceed this at launch. Gran Turismo 7’s file size is a whopping 110GB. The player will be able to play some races while the title fully downloads, but we would put aside a few hours to allow for this; you have been warned.