A grand return to form

GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED
GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED
GRAN TURISMO 7

For : PS5, PS4 Reviewed on PS5

Rating: ★★★★★

Gran Turismo 7 is a love letter to the car and a return to form for a famous single-player franchise that had dabbled in multiplayer in recent years.

Gran Turismo is a franchise that means so much to so many people, myself included. There’s something just so incredibly compelling about starting off in a slow road car, and working your way up the ranks to racing the ultimate race cars on the most iconic circuits.

This, and the history of specific cars, and cars in general, is the crux of what Gran Turismo 7 is about.

GT7’s greatest triumph is its Cafe, and how that frames the game. The Cafe gives you objectives that are involved with collecting various cars, all with a particular theme. That theme may be iconic Japanese road cars from the ’90s, or exotic Italian sports cars such as Ferraris, and this takes you around the globe racing on a wide range of tracks (including the famous Bathurst, Nurburgring Nordschleife and Le Mans tracks!). As you collect the cars, and fill the Cafe Menus, you are given more information about the cars and why they’re iconic. It really conveys a love for cars and will really appeal. Also the collection element appeals to “enthusiasts” (hoarders) like me.

Series creator Kazunori Yamauchi felt that the love of cars seems to have dwindled in recent years (particularly since the launch of the first Gran Turismo game 25 years ago!), and this mode both reflects his love for cars, but also will reinvigorate players’ interest in learning about the development of the cars, and how cars as a whole have evolved, even within the past 30 years.

As you progress through the Cafe, as well as seeing the various cars and learning their histories, it unlocks the various modes within the game and acts as a tutorial of sorts, teaching players new and old the mechanics of the game and how to make best use of them.

Cars can be purchased from three different dealerships — a used car lot for cars mostly of the late ’90s and early 2000s, a dealership for more modern cars, and a legendary car dealership for the absolutely iconic cars.

The used car dealership is a throwback to a popular feature in previous games, allowing players to occasionally grab a bargain; the dealerships themselves have incredibly detailed statistics and knowledge bases on each car, and the legendary dealership really pushes the love for cars further; highlighting why these particular cars from history are so special.

As for how the game plays, it is what you’d expect from Gran Turismo, or indeed any driving simulator. Each car feels distinct and different — there’s no way you’re going to confuse driving a Suzuki Swift with a Le Mans Prototype. The biggest area of improvement in this iteration is the focus on better car sounds, particularly in the racing cars. In what historically has been a weak point, the cars now sound much gruntier and more realistic, although I wouldn’t say they’re perfect. On the PS5, the use of the 3-D Audio functionality really complements this.

Another PS5 specific feature that elevates the playing experience is the utilisation of the DualSense controller. You can feel when the car skids, feel as you transition from the road surface on to kerbs and back off them, feel when you have locked the brakes up. This increase in feel really boosts the experience for players who use the controller, whether people new to the game or series stalwarts.

The other hallmark of the Gran Turismo series over the years has been its graphics. I remember playing Gran Turismo 3 in the early 2000s and thinking (comically now) that they couldn’t get much better. GT7 on PS5 is bordering on photo-realism and looks absolutely amazing.

For those with monitors or TVs that can support 4K, and HDR, the scapes (photography) mode with the ray tracing enabled is incredible. With a little bit of playing around, you can create images that are almost indistinguishable from reality. There’s a subset of players that only play the game to use this mode, and they will be in heaven with what’s on offer here.

In conjunction with the fully-fledged single-player elements, GT7 also includes robust multiplayer. You can create lobbies with customisable settings with your friends (or indeed strangers on the internet), and host one-off races, drift sessions, or competitive leagues. There are also daily races and championships, although pre-release these weren’t active, so it remains to be seen if there’s any innovation there.

Overall, GT7 is a spectacular return to form for a series that hasn’t had an entry like this since 2013 and the PlayStation 3 (!). However, there is one difference that may be contentious for fans — at launch there’s a shade over 400 cars available, and compared to GT Sport, there’s only around a dozen new cars. This will frustrate players expecting to see various new cars, or a specific new one.

With GT7 being viewed as an evolving experience, cars and tracks will be added as time goes on. However, the glory days of having 1000 cars and 55 different variants of the Mazda MX-5 seem to be gone. While on the topic of updates, the game also requires a constant internet connection even for single player content, and so players who prefer to play offline (or who have sporadic internet issues!) may be disadvantaged.

That being said, Gran Turismo 7 is a brilliant return of one of Sony’s juggernaut franchises. There’s a wealth of content, catering to so many different players and plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the series (including me being in the game, keep an eye out!), and the prospect of it only growing in the near future makes it an essential purchase for fans, or indeed someone keen to see what all the fuss is about.

 - Simon Bishop

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