Polyphony Digital has been creating realistic driving simulators for 20 years. In 1997, Gran Turismo proved that driving race cars how they are meant to be driving can still be fun, albeit with some patience. It’s been a joy to once again return to the series, but this year has seen the release of Project CARs 2, Forza 7, and now Gran Turismo Sport. It’s been a frantic couple of months in terms of releases, with so many simulators available to the consumer. With the return of Gran Turismo, under the new Sports banner, which was specifically created for eSports and online tournaments. What a year, indeed.
While it’s been some time since I’ve sat down with a Gran Turismo title, the last one being Gran Turismo 5 for PlayStation 3, a game that suffered with its own setbacks, skipping the next game and moving into Sport, not quite the next game in the series, but a new path for Polyphonic, I was happy to see what transitioned into the next generation. Off the bat, I am blown away by the detail, the cars, of the 170 available in-game, are the best models I’ve ever seen the series feature, with HDR the cars have never looked better. The downside of this, is there are multiple versions of the same car, you’ll get three or four versions types for different road conditions, and are tuned to meet the needs of said conditions.
Coming off reviewing Project CARS 2, you can feel the differences between the two games, however, Gran Turismo still has ground to cover to catch up with Forza and Project CARs, while GT Sport features some of the best handling I’ve encountered to date, there are some issues.
Being branded as Gran Turismo Sport allows the series to branch off and find its own identity, thing you would find in a number GT title, like the massive roster of cars or legacy tracks, are gone, replaced with a smaller more intimate number of vehicles to tool around with but it’s far less than you come to expect.
I’m more than understanding of the situation, each car in the game is fine-tuned to match its real-life counterpart in how it handles, you’ll feel the difference between a Nissan or a Porsche, and it’s that subtlety that you know the detail that went into creating the experience.
Don’t get me wrong, both the vehicle selection and tracks choices are good, you get 17 tracks with dozens of variations, and big names like Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, McLaren, Lexus, Porsche and more, with Honda, Peugeot, VW, Ford, Nissan rounding out the providing a well rounded selection of cars. Many courses are based on real, famous circuits that exist like Nürburgring, Willow Springs, Suzuka, to name a few, with fictional locations tracks to fill in gaps.
choices are good, you get 17 tracks with dozens of variations, and big names like Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, McLaren, Lexus, Porsche and more, with Honda, Peugeot, VW, Ford, Nissan rounding out the providing a well-rounded selection of cars. Many courses are based on real, famous circuits that exist like Nürburgring, Willow Springs, Suzuka, to name a few, with fictional locations tracks to fill in gaps.
Using a standard controller for the duration of my review worked well, I know there is a cult following with simulators and a proper racing wheel set up, which I’m aware provides an even better experience if you so choose, however, you’ll feel at home using a controller making your way down straightaways and rounding corners.
Driving assists are by default turned on, it might seem like a bad idea, but you’ll want them on for the first few hours until you can take corners and opponents without having assist falter you when you need it most. After a while, turning assists off will feel like taking training wheels off and you’re free to engage racers to your ability level. Without the assists, it’s a different experience and your attention is required to complete the race in a timely manner.
Every car is customizable under the hood, as you level up during your time playing, you can begin to tune your cars, from the engine to the body, improving your times on tracks by adding needed horsepower to your chassis.
A staple of the series, the Gran Turismo Driving School returns which kick off the campaign mode, these trials and scenarios, endurance races, all prepare you for your journey with GT Sport. They are increasingly difficult to learn and master, beginning with the basics of braking and cornering, moving on to harder things like running a clean lap and hit the target time. It’s an iconic part of the series and something well worth investing into, getting back into the spirit of Gran Turismo requires.
I was alarmed at the only thing I could play before the official retail release was a lightweight Arcade mode which did feature some fun things to do. When I shut the game off to play something else, I lost all my progress and once again, I was met with my first gift car, a Genesis Coupe. Not what you want to see after an hour and change drifting, completing laps and messing around. Online, you can engage in four things: Driving School, Mission Challenge, Circuit Experience and Racing Etiquette.
Gran Turismo Sport brings the series to PlayStation 4 with realistic graphics boosted by HDR implementation, unlike anything I’ve experienced so far. It’s nice to see the series surviving years after rocking the game world with its realistic graphics in 1997, and decades later continuing the trend in 2017. Graphics aside, this doesn’t feel like a proper Gran Turismo experience, removing the focus on solo races, and more into multiplayer and eSports. The crisp menus are some of my favorites to explore and navigate, however, the way Polyphonic decided to move every feature online aside from the arcade mode, is understandable to meet the needs of the International Automobile Federation (FIA). Depending on what you want to do, be it racing with friends, against strangers, or even the AI, you’ll find something here to do, with challenges to complete, a superb VR mode, and tuning to your hearts desires.