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March 2024

Gran Turismo 7

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEI
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Release Date: March 4, 2022


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PS5 Review - 'Gran Turismo 7'

by Cody Medellin on March 2, 2022 @ 3:01 a.m. PST

From classic vehicles and tracks to the reintroduction of the legendary GT Simulation Mode – GT 7 brings together the best features from past installments of the series alongside the future.

Buy Gran Turismo 7

The last time that Gran Turismo saw an entry in the mainline series was Dec. 4, 2013. Despite the rumors at the time, Gran Turismo 6 was only released on the PS3, giving that system a rather excellent racing game in its final years. Gran Turismo Sport was a PS4 game, but its heavy focus on multiplayer and use of official racing rules alienated players looking for the classic experience. Gran Turismo 7 has finally arrived in 2022, and unlike its predecessor, it appears on both the tail end of the PS4 life cycle and the start of the PS5s, which is the version we're focusing on in this review.

Starting the game for the first time provides some options to customize the experience to your preferences. Most notable are the control options, which cover all potential bases for those who don't use a steering wheel. Steering can be done with the left analog stick, d-pad for those more accustomed with the original PlayStation games, and motion controls for those who want something akin to an actual steering wheel. That last method functions well, but you'll sacrifice accuracy until you get acclimated to it. For acceleration and braking, you can use the face button like in the old school days or the right analog stick, but most people will probably stick with the analog triggers. That's probably for the best, as the trigger resistance while braking — especially if your tires lock — makes the case for the DualSense as a very good controller for racing titles. The improved rumble helps players feel every bump in the environment.

After setting up everything the way you want, GT7 automatically takes you to Music Rally, which is essentially a time attack mode with the time being counted down according to the beats of the song. You can initially select one song, but you can't select the racetrack or car that you want, making it more of an interactive demo to test your control options and driving assists in addition to teaching yourself how to drive with AI cars on the road. It's fine, but with only six songs to choose from after everything is unlocked, it isn't something that will see serious playtime.

Finishing one song gives you the chance to enter the world map, which is similar to those in RPGs like the early Hyperdimension Neptunia titles, but it'll also remind series fans of what was seen in the likes of GT4. After getting a text intro from an assistant assigned to guide you through the world of Gran Turismo, you can buy one of three used cars. Buying a car gives you access to a garage and the café, which is where most of the campaign takes place. After more introductions, you're presented with a menu book that acts as a guide for what to tackle next, with the first one asking you to place in the top three of three different races to earn cars. Accomplish that, and you'll head back to the café to collect your rewards and a bit of history and information on the goal before getting another menu to start the cycle anew.

The café is in line with some of the more eccentric stuff the series has been known for in the past few entries. From racing on the moon to the aforementioned music rally to syncing up a realistic star system during races and racing with professional go-karts, there's always something intriguing. The idea of a café isn't bad, but it adds unnecessary steps to the act of getting and completing quests.

For some, the café is a good idea since it gives the game some structure, like the GT mode in past offerings. It works well as a guide on what to do next, and the game highlights the location of menu book-related races and tasks, so there's no chance of getting lost. Most tasks are focused on completing races and getting cars, but there are a number that simply ask you to try different modes to showcase everything in the title. The list isn't long, so each quest doesn't take forever to complete, so rewards come in at a good clip. It's impossible to get inundated with tasks because menu books are only presented one at a time, and rewards naturally steer you toward the next menu book.

At the same time, the café adds enough superfluous things to make it an annoyance to seasoned players of other serious racing titles. Unless you unlock a championship race, the cut scene before a menu book challenge consists of random, lingering shots of the café. Complete a menu book involving cars, and you'll get a brief rundown of how those fit into car history, along with some pretty scenery of cars driving by. You might also get optional commentary from other café patrons. Their presence provides someone with enough info to get interested in those vehicles, but those scenes can't be skipped without some furious button-mashing. For those who only care about racing and not the proliferation of car culture, the forced breaks from the action can be a pain to sit through because they create breaks in the flow between events.

The café also does something that may infuriate racing fans: blocking other modes. For example, you need to complete 10 menu books to unlock online multiplayer, and while you can see some of the pictures and liveries created by fans after completing the first menu book, you can't create that until much later in the game. In short, you need about three hours of playtime before you can do anything beyond solo racing.

Modes are a mix between essential and fluff, making one wonder why they needed to be locked away. Showcase mode shows off the community creations such as decals, liveries and pictures. Based on what's available thus far, expect to find more serious designs with tons of real-life maker logos as opposed to the more anime- and pop culture-related stuff from the Forza series. Scapes is where players can take any car that they own and place it on backdrops based on real locations. As seen in GT6, the process of placing cars in the correct place and changing out filters produces some amazing-looking pictures. It's also something that you aren't going to use too much unless you really, really love digital photography.

Brand Central serves a dual purpose. You can buy new cars here instead of hoping that the used car shop has what you're looking for; this is handy since there are 424 vehicles on the roster. That a load more than what was in Gran Turismo Sport, and while it is still smaller than the car roster in GT6, you know that these were all crafted recently instead of being holdovers from the PS2 era. Brand Central also acts as a history museum for most manufacturers, complete with random trivia and a portal to their YouTube channel with selected videos highlighted, though fans of GT6 will be happy to note that all of these videos play in HD and full-screen this time around.

Tuning Shop is the parts equivalent to Brand Central, minus the promotional videos and history lessons. Parts are split into five categories, each aimed at the car you're currently driving. From tires to tuning computers to weight reduction and transmission systems, each part provides details about which stats will change by installing them as well as changes to the PP grading system. Aside from being unlocked through the café, the categories are unlocked as you gradually level up by obtaining more cars.

GT Auto feels like an extension of the garage, as you'll do some more car modifications like adding wings to the back or widening the car's body for eligible vehicles. You'll also use this space to do some car maintenance, like a wash or oil change, all of which can seem pricey when compared to more essential upgrades. This is also where you can change your racing suit and helmet and affix decals to them, though the options are more limited than for cars.

License Center is home to the series' infamous license tests, which can either be met with joy or disdain, depending on how you originally felt about them. For those who hated it, there are only nine lessons per license followed by a final test. While the impact of driving assists is lessened, you can still use them to complete each test, albeit with nothing more than a bronze rating. Completing licenses yields cars; those who finish all of the lessons with a gold rating get something spectacular, but those who come away with bronze will still get a nice car.

GT7 still comes with some of the expected modes for each track, like an arcade mode, a customized race and time trials. Circuits act as a practice mode and a quick way to get a medal for racing around one lap of a track. Drift and rally races are thrown in for good measure. Missions need to be unlocked via the café, and they are special challenges, like getting to the front of the pack. Like the rest of the game, they serve as fun distractions, but at least you'll want to go after these multiple times instead of once, since there are plenty of them taking place in six game environments.

Multiplayer comes in four different flavors once you finally reach that milestone in the café. Lobby races are exactly what's expected, with the ability to dole out restrictions in a more casual environment. Meeting Place is new and acts like the multiplayer modes from the old Tony Hawk games, where you can hang out with others and drive around at your leisure like it's a big chat room; it makes one wonder if it'll get much use since the PS5 system itself supports party chats with friends. Two-player split-screen racing is also available, and while the screen size for each player can feel restrictive because a lot of black space is used for vital stats, it's great to have it in a big game like this, since only a few modern racing games attempt it.

Sport mode is essentially GT Sport ported over to GT7. From the racing schedules to the rule set and different point systems for actual racing and being a courteous racer, it's all here. Online performance is solid, with no signs of lag or hitching in our limited online sessions. Considering how big the GT community is, it'll be easy to find a match after launch day.

The mix of fun modes and one-offs, along with the amount of time needed to unlock all of them, can test those who are used to racing games that have just about every mode open from the start. The desire to get people into car history is nice, but there's no depth beyond what GT6 doled out. If the aim is to get people into car culture, it seems like it only wants to go for the more serious side, based on the presentation and contributions from the community. On some of these things, the game can feel quite old and stuffy, and that's before getting into pre-race commentary from actual Gran Turismo racers.

None of that comes to the forefront once you start driving, as everything feels right from the beginning. For experienced drivers who know how to brake and turn with amazing accuracy, the near-limitless amount of tuning for every car is still here, and you can save that into separate sheets for faster stat swaps if you want to take one car through your journey. The handling has the right amount of sensitivity, so oversteers and sliding into the dirt feel like they're your own fault. There are a few tweaks to the system that only the more experienced drivers will notice, such as an improvement on the physics system with wind force being taken into account. Since GT7 is already working on a base that is considered to be the gold standard for console simulation racing games, fans of that type of racing on consoles will love every moment they're on the track.

For those who are more used to arcade-style racing games, GT7 has enough accommodations to make those players feel more welcome than ever before. You can set variable difficulty levels for the main races to make the opposition go slower, faster, or proceed at their normal speed. The aforementioned assist system is quite elaborate, as you have the racing line, an area for braking, automatic braking when needed for turns, and oversteer prevention to prevent fishtailing and spinning into barricades. There's enough here to let you steer and accelerate until you get the higher-performance cars and need to take braking into account. Things are finally at a place where racing newcomers can feel welcome in Gran Turismo instead of fearing that they'll crash everywhere and come in last all the time.

Beyond this, there are some other strong improvements over GT Sport. Even though Sony's touted AI for the game isn't in yet, the computer drivers have improved enough that they aren't always insistent on hitting the perfect driving line. You'll see them try to not collide into you or each other, and it feels much better than before. The driving locales have increased to 34, but the tracks hit 97 with the many different configurations. It's a good mix of classics and new ones, and the new weather system with a day and night cycle brings some excitement to the table, as you have to deal with sudden wet conditions on the fly and see that dry up over time once the rain stops and other cars create dry patches. As stated before, the game is working on of a strong base that has only gotten better after every iteration, even if that means waiting longer than expected between versions compared to other racing franchises.

Perhaps the best thing that can happen to GT7 is the fact that the PS5 comes equipped with a NVMe SSD as its primary storage. Generally, load times are almost nonexistent, and in the few areas where you'll see a loading circle, such as transitioning between different tracks in a championship, wait times never reach 10 seconds before you get to another interactive element. The experience is transformative; even though the numerous menus from past games are still there, it feels like less of a chore to click through them thanks to the near-instantaneous loading.

There is one thing to keep in mind, and that's the game's reliance on having a constant internet connection to play. Much like GT Sport, going offline severely limits you to playing Arcade mode for each track and Music Rally. For a game that doesn't even let you participate in an online activity until a few hours in, the requirement is more baffling when you consider that there are no online leaderboards for things like lap or overall race times, so beware if you're prone to unstable network connections.

Another thing to look out for is the presence of microtransactions for the GT7 currency. At the time of the review, we weren't given an idea of what the real-world conversion rate is, but if it's anything like GT6, expect to dole out some serious cash to get lots of money right away. To be fair, the game lets you ignore that part if you race well, but it also tempts you into buying those packs once you get roulette tickets and see that the game has a tendency to give you the worst monetary prizes out of the five on display.

The graphics prove to be a good showcase for what the PS5 console can do. With all of the cars being new creations instead of holdovers from a previous generation, all of the expected details, from the glossy paint to the little bits of the dashboard, come through with exceptional clarity. The particle effects, like sparks from scraping against walls or the mist that's created when you drive over wet roads, looks rather brilliant. The environments look absolutely sharp. You can find some issues if you look hard enough, like the splashes when driving over puddles not being that impressive or members of the audience looking stiff, but it all looks so good in motion thanks to a steady frame rate. It isn't distressing to see a stray shadow pop into view here, and .

There is one thing that is bewildering, and that has to do with the graphical options. You're given two choices: prioritize ray tracing and prioritize frame rate. Considering how expensive ray tracing is on the PS5, it would make more sense to go after frame rate instead. However, ray tracing is only active when you're looking at Scapes, watching the car drive through scenes, watching replays, and looking pre- and post-race screens. Every race always goes at 60fps no matter what's happening, so the only real benefit from prioritizing frame rate is to get those replays and Scapes running at 60fps. Since longtime Gran Turismo players have been used to reduced frame rates during replay mode, it makes more sense to choose ray tracing over frame rate and hope that the rumored PC port will provide both ray tracing and high frame rates.

The audio is mostly excellent. The music covers a few genres, with classical music playing during menus and a mix of rock, pop and electronic music playing during races. It can seem like the game is trying to go for an epic feel, especially during the start of races, but it works if you can accept it. The soundtrack includes songs from past games, which is perfect since the series is celebrating its 25th anniversary. From engine noises to tires screeching, the sound effects are great, but the game doesn't seem to enjoy cars bumping into objects because collisions produce no sound effect at all. Whether you create a light tap against a car or crash into a wall, the silence is bewildering and fails to let you know whether you had a clean race.

Gran Turismo 7 is a smorgasbord of esoteric ideas that create a more than solid racing title. The forced history lessons can break the flow of going in and out of races for some, while others might hate that there was so much hype around elements that feel superfluous since they don't affect the races. The campaign flow is excellent for those looking for granular structure, but others will hate how it locks some prominent modes for too long. The actual racing remains absolutely brilliant, however, to the point where some players will ignore the quirks because the act of playing is excellent enough for those of all skill levels to enjoy. For those who have waited this long for another mainline entry, Gran Turismo 7 is a grand reward for their patience.

Score: 8.5/10

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