When you think of iconic racing series it’s hard not to think of arcade classics such as Daytona USA, Sega Rally, and if you used to frequent the Launceston Intencity like me, Scud Race. But when it comes to consoles, there are several big name IPs whose legacies span multiple console generations. However, none are more synonymous with the PlayStation brand than Gran Turismo, the company’s premium automotive experience. The latest entry, Gran Turismo 7, ensures that the series’ wheels have graced every PlayStation console, and where the last couple releases haven’t quite lived up to expectations, GT7 sees the series return to its former glory with a racing experience that could define its legacy.
For full disclosure, if you’re looking for the opinion from a series veteran and/or racing enthusiast, I’m not your guy. However, if you’re someone who enjoys racing games now and again or if you’re getting behind the wheel for the first time, jump in and buckle up, because we’re going for a spin.
Show us some muscle
The core DNA of Gran Turismo is geared towards a driving simulation experience, so if you’re going in expecting a game like Need for Speed you’re probably going to be a little disappointed. But hopefully that doesn’t deter you, because GT7 is close to the best driving experience I’ve ever played. Cars have real weight to them and each car type handles differently. Crossing the finish line in first place is more about racing smart than racing fast, and although there is plenty of speed to be had, don’t expect to take corners like you’re Vin Diesel because it’s simply not possible. You’ll need to time your brakes and execute them with precision (aided by a visual cue), which is not an easy task when you’re fanging it down a stretch pushing 300km/h approaching a sharp turn. Everything feels great and fine-tuned to perfection, and there’s a certain element of tension as you brake hard and fast trying not to lose control of your vehicle. All it takes is one slip up to cost you a race, and there’s no rewind feature to correct any mistakes.
The PS5’s DualSense controller helps add to the immersion and realism, with subtle use of the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Different surfaces will yield different haptic responses and each car will utilise various levels of pressure when it comes to braking. Making driving even more enjoyable is the game’s eclectic soundtrack, which not only includes songs from classical maestros such as Mozart and synth-pop bangers from my boy Roosevelt but the usual tasty rock tunes from long-time series composers Daiki Kasho and Nittoku Inoue (although I haven’t discovered a way to skip songs, which can be a pain if there’s a song that you don’t like playing).
If there’s one thing that racing games usually always promise, it’s eye-catching visuals, and make no mistake, GT7 is a truly gorgeous game. I mean if car porn is your thing then you’re in for a real treat, because the car models and the way light reflects off of them looks phenomenal, quite often blurring the lines between reality and video game thanks to ray tracing. Even better, if you get sick of being in the driver’s seat you can watch videos of your car driving around a stack of different locations and take photos in a robust mode known as Scapes, which you can share with everyone else in the Showcase.
Polyphony should be applauded for the clever way that ray tracing works in GT7. Instead of compromising the game’s performance, whenever you’re prioritising ray tracing the game will ensure you have a smooth 60fps experience during races, with ray tracing only enabled in replays and Scapes. Prioritising frame rate simply gives you 60fps everywhere and no ray tracing.
Things are getting wet and wild
Everything feels great and fine-tuned to perfection, and there’s a certain element of tension as you brake hard and fast trying not to lose control of your vehicle
Starting with 20,000 credits and a boot full of dreams, your journey begins in the game’s World Map. From here you’ll visit the Used Car dealership to purchase your first car – a bit like how most of us bought our first set of wheels – before hitting the World Circuit.
Cars can be bought from either the Used Car dealership or Brand Central, with the latter having far more on offer. There’s no shortage of cars either, with GT7 featuring over 400 car models from renowned and revered brands from around the world, such as Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet, Toyota and more. Each brand has a variety of car types, as well as models from various years, so your collection will have a ton of diversity. There’s a plethora of information that can be gleaned from these menus, with players having the option of exploring a museum and listening to a history lesson dedicated to almost all the brands.
Each vehicle has a certain number of Performance Points (PP), which ultimately determine how good your car is. As you unlock more events, the PP requirements will rise. Over time you’ll need to tune your cars to improve their performance, as well as ensure that they meet regulations of certain races. This is done at the Tuning Shop, where you can purchase parts from five different categories (Sport, Club Sport, Semi-Racing, Racing, and Extreme) and each part will increase or decrease your car’s overall PP (or do nothing). If you really want to get serious you can head to the Garage, where you change everything from your car’s acceleration and braking sensitivity to its aerodynamics.
On the tune
There’s also the GT Auto menu, which will allow players to perform maintenance and services on their vehicles such as oil changes, engine overhauls, as well as the ability to wash your car (got to look good for the cameras). GT7 also has a solid livery editor, which lets players customise their ride’s colour and their driving outfit.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that GT7 was made by a bunch of mechanics instead of developers because there is so much here that you can tune and tinker with. I mean who even knows what adjusting your car’s negative camber angle means or does? Who cares? You can do it here regardless. I honestly feel like if I bought the right tools from Autobarn I could service my own car after playing GT7.
The World Circuit is where you’ll spend the majority of your time, as it’s where you’ll get to spin your wheels. Race events are spread across three regions: Asia-Oceania, the Americas, and Europe, and there’s a truckload of content for players to consume. Races will have different vehicle regulations, such as origin, car type, tyre choice and more. Competing in events will net you credits, which can be spent on new cars or upgrading your existing collection. Like most racing games, you’ll start at the back of the pack and have to make your way to the front, and given winning is no easy feat, there’s a rewarding sense of victory when you do cross the finish line in first place.
When it comes to tracks there are over 90 to tear up, including accurate renditions of famous tracks such as the Daytona International Speedway and the Tsukuba Circuit in Japan. Every track has been designed to not only challenge players but to feel like an authentic piece of the host country’s landscape.
Welcome to the world of Gran Turismo 7
I mean if car porn is your thing then you’re in for a real treat, because the car models and the way light reflects off of them looks phenomenal, quite often blurring the lines between reality and video game
A good chunk of your time will be spent hanging out at the Gran Turismo Café with a bloke named Luca, who will give you challenges in the form of menus, that will see you unlock cars, tracks and receive rewards upon completion. Luca knows his stuff too, and whenever you complete a collection of cars he’ll give you a brief overview of their history. It’s an informative and interesting feature that car enthusiasts will appreciate, while others may discover some useful trivia answers.
If you want to just kick back and drive a various sample of cars while listening to some tidy tunes, the game’s Music Rally mode lets you do just that. It’s a time trial style mode that challenges players with driving as far as they can across the duration of the song. You’ll need to hit checkpoints to keep the party going, but unless you stack it several times you should see the song through to the end. If that’s not your jam you can always tackle the game’s Missions mode, which tasks players with completing challenge events, such as overtaking all cars by the finish line or knocking over all cones on a track. As your Collector Level increases, more challenges will unlock.
If multiplayer is more your thing you can test your skills online against other drivers in the game’s standard multiplayer offering, where players can race off in basic race events. However, if you want to get more competitive, the Sports mode is an online mode that pits you against similar skilled drivers in daily races and championship events. I’m also happy to report that Split Screen local co-op is here for those who want to race like old times.
If there’s one thing that feels cumbersome it’s how the game handles changing vehicles, which can only be done via the Garage or the race menu. It means that if you want to tune, maintain or customise your car you have to go back to the Garage, change to the vehicle you want to play around with and go back into the menu of what you’re wanting to do. It makes upgrading multiple cars at once a chore and I struggle to believe there wasn’t a more intuitive way to switch between vehicles.
Your car is your oyster
Another aspect that slightly hampers the game is that it requires a constant internet connection. It may not impact a lot of people in this day and age but there will be people who will be affected, and with the offline options pretty barebones, it’s a shame because it doesn’t really feel necessary to the core experience.
Without a doubt, GT7 feels like a labour of love for Polyphony, with so much detail and attention put into every aspect of the game. It’s a celebration of the company’s dedication to the automotive industry, packed with a ton of content, driving mechanics that could be the best in its class, gorgeous visuals and a banging soundtrack, GT7 is the game fans have been waiting years, if not generations for.
Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher
- Polyphony Digital
- Sony Interactive Entertainment
- PS5 / PS4
- March 4, 2022