From the first honk of this series is iconic countdown clarkson, there are moments during Gran Turismo 7 when it feels almost like a remake of the 1997 original. In the space of a moment I’m 16 again and stuffing earth-shaking turbos into a bright red with Mitsubhishi GTO wondering how I’m going to be able to pick my dad around trial mountain when he always gets the dual shock.
I have to make do with our only other controller a terrible translucent blue aftermarket job with no analog sticks, that’s a kind of magic a video game series can’t buy it can only earn.
Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7 has that magic that compulsive car upgrade loop the series established plus the hot looks and sterling handling to back it up but there’s a lot more to gran turismo 7 than the sum of its nostalgia even it there are still a few traditions that should have left in its rear view mirror.
Nostalgia isn’t a requirement though gran turismo 7 is the most welcoming gt ever with dozens of hours of curated races and tasks designed to induct a new generation of players into the classic gt experience. GT7 achieves this via the gran turismo cafe an accentric but effective little hub that the developers at polyphony have placed right in the middle of its world map.
Working through the 39 so-called menu books gradually introduces new drivers to how things work in GT from earning licenses and finding and buying cars to customization and some of it may initially seem like busy work to long time GT players but the racing events the gran turismo 7 cafe deliberately threads us through will make up part of the large list of career races we’d be otherwise doing anyhow and the enormous collection of reward cards offered for working through the menu books makes it well worth your time.
You’ll definitely be able to win many more cars this way than you would be able to afford to buy in your first week with GT7 that much is clear payouts aren’t particularly extravagant and car upgrade costs can be surprisingly high for some items like tyres that cost twice as much as an entire MX-5 or 100,000 Nitrous system.
No amount of boosted DVD Players could ever pay for even neat idea like the huge range of official manufacturer paint colors we can use in the design booth annoyingly come with a cost attached. Considering the GT7 features the shady ability to top up your bank account balance with real money via the PlayStation store that has a feeling little bit cynical.
Especially when some rare cars will only pop up occasionally to buy and others require peculiar time limited in-game invitations to actually purchase. Nevertheless collecting each themed trio of cars for the GT cafe’s menu books also unlocks a sweetly earnest short video that showcases the cars and explain their relevance to automotive culture.
These vignettes are clearly aimed at people with a more limited background in monitoring history than I have but I still admire polyphony’s effort to try and add context to why certain cars are here. That said while some of these collections are very historically robust and can properly chart the lineage of certain iconic models some others are hamstrung by GT7’s limited pool of cars to pull from.
For instance, GT7 supra and GTR collections are great examples of menu books that span decades of motoring evolution but others have to take a bit more of a grab bag approach. GT7’s car roster exceeding 400 sounds good on paper but after accounting for multiple variations of the same cars the reality is the garage and GT7 is not nearly as rich as you may expect.
Certainly not as current with a few exceptions most manufacturers, rangers tend to top out at around 2017. If you’re expecting to see quite a few high-profile cars from the last two or three years here like the latest MClaren’s or any Tesla built since 2012 you may be disappointed.
Handle with flair
Crucially, however the car handling is quite impeccable and virtually every single car I have driven feels appreciably different from the last retro road cars feel lery and loose and they can become wilder still with some extra oomph squeezed under the bonnet as proper performance tuning returns to the series after its absence from GT sport.
Modern sports cars feels a bit more planted but they’re nothing like the dedicated race models which are stiff and cling to the tarmac like their tyres have talons. In what feels like an improvement on GT sport grip doesn’t quite disappear off a cliff, the moment I overcook a corner exit and it’s a little bit more intuitive to hook up again after a slide.
I have my reservations about the off-road handling specifically how it deals with jumps, the GT7 is amazing on Asphalt like GT sport before GT7 seriously sings on a steering wheel but know that it still feels absolutely at home on a dual sense controller and I haven’t felt like it’s a disadvantage in fact I’ve achieved gold cops in the bulk of the license tests using a controller the PS5’s dual sense haptic feedback also rates a positive mention.
There are times where it feels like it’s trying to deliver a few too many sensations simultaneously to really grasp what each is trying to illustrate so it’s just a lot of worrying and buzzing all at once but the dual sense otherwise copes with GT7 splendidly.
The response to kerbs is particularly nuanced and there are some other bits of feedback that are unique to particular tracks that feels very cool like the were from whipping over the metal grates that stretch across the Tokyo expressway circuit that this buzz feels distinct in my hands from the clunk of a gear change is exactly the type of thing, I’m keen to keep seeing done with the dual sense.
However, it remains a shame that polyphony keeps compromising its high quality driving by persisting with frustrating rolling starts for career mode events in a real-life motor race cars cruise closely in two rows for rolling starts but in GT7 career races the cars are arranged in single file 50 odd meters apart.
We are always placed in last in a race with 20 opponents at Mount Panorama, this means the leader is already all the way up mountain street and approaching the cutting by the time, we cross the starting line. In simple terms that’s well over a kilometer away. These ridiculous head starts mean career events are less a race than they are a chase to negate the immense starting deficit.
What’s mystifying is the GT7 has a great custom race creator that features grid starts. So, we know there’s no technical reason not to have them. It just doesn’t use them where they work best.
Starting out in GT7 on PS5, you’ll be offered the choice between two graphics modes a performance mode that prioritizes the frame rate at all times and a ray tracing mode that applies ray tracing to certain non-gameplay scenarios. You can switch between them at any time.
Ray tracing can be active in things like the photo mode replays and the garage, but I honestly don’t feel the juice is worth the squeeze with ray tracing on the camera tends to jitter a bit when panning across interiors and I actually thinks the cars tend to look sharper and better without it. In fact GT7’s greatest lighting victory has little to do with its ray tracing mode at all.
It’s fantastic time of day effects by the fabulous set of circuits in supremely realistic and always changing light watching as the crisp afternoon sun gave way to the pink and purple hues of dusk atop Mount Panorama.
I was seriously impressed it’s distractingly good, it’s just a great looking package all round really, I quite like the smaller details from the way pit crews clamber up fences to pump their fists and wave flags on the last lap in championship races. To the way tow hooks decals and unique aero parts begin to naturally appear on tuned AI opponents as you move up through the competition ranks.
Everything Must Go
While the Gran Turismo cafe is a clever experiment that works GT7’s new music features feel like a bust, let down by ostensibly large music library that actually has nothing on the PS1 and PS2 gran turismos and ranges from mostly forgettable to outright weird. The music replay feature works as advertised but the effect isn’t especially, seismic or stirring.
Music rally in arcade style mode where we start with a certain number of beats which tick down as a song, players need to be topped up by passing through extension gates has turned out to be a particularly odd focus. It’s admittedly hard for me to gauge how a 2022 audience will respond to hustling around a track to classical disco megamixes from 1982, but personally I’m confused as hell here.
Most disappointingly, for a series with a baked in history of associated music tracks that are seared into the minds of millions, this wasn’t the direction polyphony went with music rally. It gets frustratingly close with one of the songs in music rally plucked from the opening movie to the pal version of GT5 prologue on PS3 but that’s it.
A music rally stacked with songs from the heyday of gran turismo like my favorite game by the cardigans and the chemical brothers remix of everything must go or any other ash feeder and Lenny Kravitz tunes that made up those early intro movies and soundtracks, that would have been a clever hook as it stands though the six available music rallies are simply a bit bizarre and boring.
Even more confusingly, it’s one of the only two modes to function offline like GT sport before it everything else in the single player mode except an arcade mode with a tiny selection of cars requires an online connection that you can’t access online multiplayer in this case is, obviously a given but the fact you can’t even access the two-player split screen mode offline has me stumped that needless connectivity isn’t as big a problem for most people in 2022 as it was a few years back but it’s still something to be aware of.
While the pvp online component was really the crux of GT sport, GT7 doesn’t emphasize it in quite the same way letting the single player campaign flex its muscles. However with rotating scheduled racing and championships sport mode in GT7 still functions the same as it does in GT sport. So, I fully expect it’ll be a similarly strong online racing venue.
On the eve of the series 25th birthday Gran turismo 7 is more than just a celebration of cars this time around in some ways, it’s also a celebration of itself a modern mix of the original gran turismo’s trend setting format with GT sports stern but very successful focus on competitive online racing this version is a potent podium performance from developer polyphony digital with gorgeous graphics, a fantastic driving feel and racing options galore.
It’s the best series has been since its dominant playstation 2 era it does have some significant failings though including how it continues to its career mode races with dreadfully flawed rolling starts its car list is no longer as comprehensive as the competition and it’s always online single-player mode still seems needlessly punitive but all of that is on the periphery of GT7’s outstanding driving experiences which are enhanced by the PS5’s fantastic graphics and intense and flavorful haptic feedback by the dual sense controller.
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- March 14, 2022