Gran Turismo 7 - Review
From the very first honk of the series, this iconic countdown There are moments in 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 Mitsubishi GT-R, wondering how I'm going to be able to beat my dad around Trial Mountain when he always gets the dual shock and I have to make do with our only other controller, a terrible translucent blue aftermarket job with no analog sticks.
That's the kind of magic a article game series can't buy, it can only earn. 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 if there are still a few traditions that should have been 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 eccentric 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 racing. Some of it may initially seem like busy work to long-time GT players, but the racing events the Gran Turismo Cafe deliberately threads us through will make up part of the large list of career races we'd be 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'd 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 systems.
No amount of boosted DVD players could ever pay for even neat ideas like the huge range of official manufacturer paint colors we can use in the design booth, which annoyingly come with a cost attached. The GT7 features the shady ability to top up your bank account balance with real money via the PlayStation Store.
That has me feeling a bit cynical, especially when some rare cars will only pop up occasionally for me to buy and others require peculiar, time-limited in-game invitations to actually purchase. Furthermore, collecting each themed trio of cars for the GT cafe's menu books also unlocks a sweetly earnest short article that showcases the cars and explains their relevance to automotive culture.
These vignettes are clearly aimed at people with a more limited background in motoring history than I have, but I still admire Polyphony's efforts 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, others are hamstrung by GT7's limited pool of cars to pull from.
For instance, while the GT7, supra, and GTR collections are great examples of menu books that span decades of motoring evolution, others have to take a bit more of a grab bag approach. GT7's car roster exceeds 400, which sounds good on paper, but after accounting for multiple variations of the same cars, the reality is the garage in GT7 is not nearly as rich as you may expect and 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 McLarens or any Tesla built since 2012, you may be disappointed. Crucially, however, the car's handling is quite impeccable, and virtually every single car I've driven feels appreciably different from the last.
Retro road cars feel leery 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. In practice, modern sports cars feel 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. I have my reservations about the off-road handling, specifically how it deals with jumps. But 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 cups 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 when 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 whirring 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 feel very cool, like they 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 GT-7, which are career races, the cars are arranged in a single file 50 meters apart, and we are always placed 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 cut 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 that 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. There is 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.