Release Date March 4, 2022
Genre Racing
Platforms PS4/PS5
Developer Polyphony Digital
Price 59.99 US
ESRB Rating Everyone
Players 1-20 Players

Gran Turismo has always been a very up and down series for me. A lot of people seem to absolutely love this series while other people seem to completely despise it and not enjoy it at all. I have a little bit of a different opinion. It’s always been kind of a guilty pleasure game for me. It’s one of those games that I would never say is one of my favourites or anywhere close to that, yet it’s still one that I can play all afternoon and find myself completely enjoying. This is very much the experience I had with Gran Turismo 7, albeit with a few more hiccups than I would have liked in all honesty.

Gran Turismo 7 does what it sets out to do. It plays as close to driving a real car as you can really expect on a video game console. This is the REAL driving simulator after all. This is the first numbered Gran Turismo game since Gran Turismo 6 all the way back in 2013. Sure, there was Gran Turismo Sport in 2017 but, that was a bit of a spinoff game. I think that’s part of the draw of these games, we just really don’t get many versions of them. Polyphony Digital doesn’t really milk this franchise every year or two like it probably could and I appreciate them for that. This is a series that is better off polishing as much as possible and giving you a bunch of racing content with every new release.

This is truly one of the best-looking racing games I’ve ever seen even after the beautiful Forza Horizon 5 was released late last year. There are two display modes to choose from: Scapes Mode and Frame Rate Mode. I chose Frame Rate Mode because I prefer a higher frame rate when playing racing games but I did dabble with Scapes Mode which has Ray Tracing enabled and on a 4K TV, there isn’t much that looks better. The 420+ cars look almost photo-realistic, I just wish there were more up-to-date cars in the game. Even without Scapes Mode enabled, the game has so many subtle details that were great to see. The ones I noticed the most were how the details of the dashboard would reflect onto the windshield in certain lighting just like real-life. The other was how realistic the rain would hit the windshield depending on how hard it was pouring down and how fast you were going. It’s one of the few games that seemed to be able to simulate real weather in a very authentic way whether it was cloudy, sunny, or rainy. Night driving was equally as impressive and might have been my favorite was to race (especially because of the astronomically accurate star systems that dot the sky). The tracks themselves didn’t strike me as all that impressive environmentally. They were good recreations of their real-life counterparts but most of them felt lifeless.

There still isn’t any damage to cars and I feel like for a game that claims to be a racing simulator, that’s a pretty big miss. This is 2022, not 1997. The level of polish is so high in this game that I can’t understand why they haven’t added damage models. I know the team wants clean racing but things happen and it shouldn’t just be omitted like that. On the flip side, the 3D audio tech means you can hear a lot more than in previous games. An odd example that I have is the confetti that falls from the ceiling when you win a new car. It sounded like it was raining before I realized that you could hear the light ticking of the confetti hitting the car and ground. The motor sounds are pretty hit and miss while the soundtrack just doesn’t really pump me up to race.

Gran Turismo 7 has an odd story mode that I thought felt oddly out of place. It takes place at the Café where the friendly owner Luca gives you a specific set of challenges in the form of menu books. Each challenge completed unlocks tracks, features, or cars to add to your collection. Most of the time this is as simple as completing a race but occasionally you’ll be asked to wash your car or tune a car. It familiarizes players with how Gran Turismo 7 works quite well so it has its place but it’s a bit underwhelming, to say the least. I would have much preferred some voiceovers instead of plain text conversations to help humanize the game a little bit better.

Luca has a cast of friends who will also help you on your GT7 journey and they are equally as quiet with little text bubbles telling you everything you need to know. Sarah guides you around the world of GT telling you about all the different spots, much like a tour guide. GT World Racers act as your instructors on license tests which was a nice touch but they were all fairly campy so it felt more forced than anything. I would much prefer if Polyphony added some life to this game because I feel like it’s still stuck in the early 2000s as far as interface and design is concerned. The hub world wouldn’t be out of place on the PS2 in terms of how it’s presented to you. They can do better.

Players will quickly gain a nice collection of cars, especially if you complete Luca’s challenges but tracks take a bit longer to roll out with 34 tracks in all and 97 total layouts. I liked the pace of GT7 because I never felt like I was being rushed to grab a bunch of cars to race in a different style of race before I had enough money like I’ve felt in some games. You can be rewarded with roulette tickets at times but in my experience, you always seem to get the lesser of the prizes every single time. I’ve gone through a bunch of these things and I never seem to get anything good. With the crazy pricing on microtransactions, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is by design to entice people to buy cars with real-world money. Either way, I don’t feel nearly as rewarded as I do in a game like Forza Horizon 5.

Racing is as you’d remember if you’ve played a game in the Gran Turismo series before. Races have a recommended Performance Point level that lets you know how competitive the race is going to be depending on how highly rated your car is. Of course, you can send your car to the tuning shop and buy some powerful parts to overpower your car and blow past most of the other cars in the beginning. This becomes more difficult as you advance through the game so don’t expect to just breeze through. It’s pretty cookie-cutter like most racing games where you pass one pack, close the gap to another pack, then struggle a bit to overtake the top 2 cars. I don’t really get why you have to start from the back even during championships whether you place 1st in the previous race or not. The AI is pretty good at driving defensively and not giving you an easy pass, they do occasionally screw up as well giving you an opening so it doesn’t feel too robotic. The challenge was a perfect level for me and you can tailor the driving style however you want to get the most enjoyment out of it from braking to assists to difficulty.

License tests make a return as mentioned earlier. If you don’t have a certain license, you can take part in certain events so you’ll need to make sure to tackle them as needed. These tests help make you a much better driver in Gran Turismo 7 and although they can be frustrating, I feel like they’re a necessary evil. This isn’t some arcade racer where you can go barreling into corners or just lifting off the gas mid-corner. This applies to wet conditions as well. Racing tires are pretty much useless in wet conditions as they’re super slick so it’s imperative to learn how to control your sliding. The DualSense does a good job of giving you feedback when your front wheels are struggling and gives you another way to gauge how well you’re handling your vehicle. This is the exact type of thing that makes the DualSense such an impressive controller.

There is a cool new Music Rally mode in which you try to go as far as you can for the duration of the song. This is more of an arcade-style race as you’re hitting time gates that add an extra 30 seconds every so often. Not only are you racing against the song, but you’re also racing against the clock to hit the next gate. It’s a fun mode that I wish Gran Turismo would experiment more with. The one issue that I have with it is that it exists outside of the world map for some inexplicable reason. I feel like it would have fit in really well as an extra piece of the map. It’s a nice diversion as is with 6 songs so far and more promised in the future.

Online racing in Gran Turismo 7 is just set up as a lobby system where you pick your preferred race settings and find a lobby to join or create your own. It’s pretty barebones in 2022. The Sport mode races are laid out at set points throughout the day and require you to own an eligible vehicle to join them. Sport races keep cars on a level playing field and frown upon collisions so if you want a fair race, that’s the best place to go. I like having the two selections for those who want to have fun and those who prefer serious competition. That being said, you’ll still have people who try to ruin the experience no matter what mode you choose.

It wouldn’t be fair to review this game if I didn’t mention the always-online factor. There were a couple of days last week when the servers for GT7 were down for maintenance and you couldn’t access the game at all. I went to play it and was unable to. The team at Polyphony awarded 1,000,000 in-game credits to anyone affected but this just amplifies the fact that when the game’s servers are shuttered, this one becomes nothing more than a paperweight if you have the disc or unusable if you have the digital copy. It’s not a good look for a primarily single-player game and I question why this is necessary.

Gran Turismo 7 is excellent at what it has always been excellent at, which is racing. The presentation needs a big overhaul for a game in this era, it just doesn’t feel like anything is all that connected or that you have much purpose to each race besides chasing a medal. The gameplay is top-notch, everything around it should be equally best in class. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love this one as it’s more of the same which isn’t a bad thing. Just don’t expect much innovation and be wary if you have a shaky internet connection.

 

Pros Cons
Excellent visuals Server issues render game unusable
Great physics, fun racing Little innovation
Tons of customization and varied races Dated presentation

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.