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Gran Turismo 7’s Music Rally Mode Is My Favourite New Way To Wind Down

Vroom Vroom

Here’s the thing – I am not a car guy. Never have been, never will be. Still, after seeing PlayStation’s recent gameplay showcases for Gran Turismo 7 I found myself more and more intrigued to have a go at the newest entry in what is easily one of the most car guy franchises of all time. There’s just something about how much GT7 fucking loves cars that made me want to get in there and understand where that love comes from and how I can feel some of it for myself.

As it turns out, for all of the hundreds of painstakingly-detailed cars, the multitude of lifelike tracks with their impossibly-good weather and time of day simulations and for all the reverent videos and cataloguing of racing history in Gran Turismo 7 there’s one simple, silly mode that hooked me right in.

Music Rally is a brand-new mode in GT7 that was first revealed to the world in last month’s State of Play presentation for the game. It’s something of a bonus mode, removed from the general presentation and progression of the game’s core content, but it’s also one of the first things you’ll be encouraged to see and do upon booting it up for the first time. There’s a good reason for that, with the mode’s opening challenge a startling succinct summation of exactly what Gran Turismo 7 is about – unadulterated racing fanfare.

Set to the combination of philharmonic orchestra and drum machines in “Hooked on Classics” and taking place on Alsace behind the wheel of a 356 Speedster, my first ever Gran Turismo experience is the first of Music Rally’s six stages and I’m immediately hooked. In this mode, rather than racing a clock or other drivers, you’ll run laps around the chosen tracks for as long as possible while a “beat” counter ticks down in time with the music. The aim is to drive well and hit checkpoints to keep your beat count high so that you don’t run out before the song finishes, with your final rating dictated by the total distance driven once you’ve made it to the end.

It’s a simple concept but it translates into something that immediately feels good thanks to the marriage of fairly stress-free driving and sick tunes. Even if you’re not chasing the gold trophy, it’s a ton of fun just to cruise past the assortment of other cars that putter around the course just to give you something to look at while the on-screen counter bops along to the beat.

“The biggest goal of the Music Rally is for people to enjoy music,” said Kazunori Yamauchi, director and CEO of Polyphony Digital, during an early Gran Turismo 7 preview event. “The other important point, we wanted people who are playing for the first time – maybe never played a car game for the first time – we wanted it to be something they would enjoy.”

At the end of it all, you’ll be treated to the same kind of gorgeous and dynamic music replays that Grab Turismo 7 has re-introduced as an option across the rest of its modes. Essentially, the game will generate a replay where it picks what it deems the best camera angles and cuts to fit a piece of music – it’s a feature that works surprisingly well and turns out great-looking replays. This is especially true of the ones in Music Rally thanks to track and music pairings that allow for some clever bits of pacing as you barrell down straightaways to a pumping beat or take a tricky corner just as the tempo dials down and the string section comes in.

All of this adds up to a mode that’s both accessible to newcomers looking to dip their toes in what can be an intimidatingly hardcore racing experience as well as veterans who want to a new challenge to perfect in a unique format. Despite only having six stages to choose from at launch, almost my entire Gran Turismo 7 experience thus far has been with Music Rally.

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It’s actually become something of a daily ritual for me, a kind of gaming palette cleanser that I can use to wind down (or up) after a long day at work or to get me into the mood for a proper gaming session. There’s just something about tearing through the tunnels of Tokyo Expressway to the sounds of The FaNaTiX feat. Idris Elba that gets the blood pumping. I’m also enjoying the slow and steady pace at which I’m getting better at driving, each day that I jump back in for a couple of Music Rally races I try to inch over my previous records. Sure enough, it’s becoming something of a gateway to the full-fat racing sim experience that’s just a menu or two away.

My only concern going forward for Music Rally is longevity – with just the six stages on offer I’m likely to be done with it fairly soon. Luckily I think I’ve gotten enough out of it to feel keen to immerse myself in everything else the game has to offer, and it seems Polyphony plans on adding more in the future. Eventually I plan to start removing some of the assists that I have enabled, things like oversteering compensation and possibly even the on-road guides that have so far shown me the best driving lines and when to start braking before crucial turns. Hopefully this helps me hold onto the fun and challenge of the mode for a little longer.

Music Rally is easily my favourite thing about Gran Turismo 7, it’s my new daily gaming ritual, and all I need now is more. While I probably wouldn’t recommend my fellow racing newbies go out and spend $125 on a shiny new copy of Gran Turismo 7 just to check out this one mode, it’s definitely the best semblance of an on-boarding experience for the series that I’ve come across for how gently it eases players into the fun of racing sims while capturing the franchise’s fundamental love for the sport and its history. If you did need convincing to take the plunge on the game itself you can read Zach’s glowing review right here, though.

Written By Kieron Verbrugge

Kieron's been gaming ever since he could first speak the words "Blast Processing" and hasn't lost his love for platformers and JRPGs since. A connoisseur of avant-garde indie experiences and underground cult classics, Kieron is a devout worshipper at the churches of Double Fine and Annapurna Interactive, to drop just a couple of names.

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