The first time I opened Gran Turismo 7, I was greeted with an eight-minute-long opening movie that showed the history of automobiles starting from the first designs in the 19th century to the modern-day cars and racing. This video perfectly signifies the unique position of Gran Turismo 7 among the racing games i.e It is a series about racing and also celebrates the car culture, history & passion. The previous entry in this long-running series GT Sport, while good in some aspects had its own problems as it was heavily focused on multiplayer. Now developer Polyphony Digital returns with the newest entry which they deem to be the most complete and advanced Gran Turismo game ever and they have really delivered this time for the most part.
Visuals & Audio:
If someone told me that this game runs on the same engine as GT Sport, I wouldn’t believe it at first glance, as the visuals delivered in this game is truly one of the best among the track racing games. The two outstanding features that stand out here are the lighting & weather system on display. Light reflects so realistically on various car surfaces and paints, the car headlights diffuse naturally when hitting the road or other cars in front. The cars and their interiors are modeled impeccably to perfection. We can even see the different types of leather and fabric materials in interiors with great distinction on and off the races. On the outside, there’s an insane level of detail on cars right up to the grills and the headlights.
Even more impressive are the sky, clouds, and the weather system present here. They use real-world meteorological data of locations to simulate the weather at any given time of day and it’s genuinely jaw-dropping at times. Fog, rain, haze, sun rays everything looks so realistic. The dynamic weather system which can change over the course of a single race is not only for visual showcase but affect the driving physics too.
On the audio side of things, it’s as impressive as the visuals. Every car sounds distinct with a lot of detail coming from the engine, tires, track objects like curbs. Braking sounds especially are impressive. The soundscape when using a cockpit camera is very immersive. The game overall makes great use of the PS5’s 3d audio to create an immersive racing experience along with the visuals. The music is a miss for the most part other than a few nice tracks. The menu music is really good and gives an epic feel for the car culture.
PS5 Modes :
The game features two graphical modes on PlayStation 5.
Prioritize Frame rate: This mode runs at native 4k and targets a locked 60fps in all places – races, menus, replays, photo mode, cutscenes but doesn’t have any ray tracing features.
Prioritize Ray tracing: Here also the resolution is 4k. Ray tracing is present in menus, replays, cutscenes but not during actual racing. During racing, we still get 60fps, but outside of racing it’s 30fps since RT is present.
I was fully using the Ray tracing mode as I was still getting 60fps during races and gorgeous ray-traced visuals in replays and photo mode. I wish they made a lower resolution mode with both RT and 60fps all around.
Driving & Controls :
Gran Turismo is a racer that leans more towards the simulation side of things. Though not hardcore to the likes of Assetto Corsa, iRacing; still among something like Forza, Grid, etc GT definitely stands out on the top in terms of the driving mechanics. From the get-go, you are advised to follow the line, brake early, and regulate the throttle inputs. The physics also feel great all around. Every car handles unique according to their configuration – front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, front-engine with rear-wheel drive etc.
Combined with the track temperatures, weather effects it’s very challenging to drive, take corners without spinning let alone to race & win. For those who want to keep things a bit more accessible there is a suite of assist options like traction control, ABS, auto-braking, brake indicators which can be tweaked individually. My disappointment is that for a game with the tagline “Real Driving Simulator” there’s no mechanical damage/significant cosmetic damage to cars outside of custom races in which we can turn them on.
The depth in tuning & customization options to your cars is also very deep. You can even simulate how the new changes will affect your car’s performance on the tuning page. There are helpful tooltips to understand what each parameter does. We can buy upgrade parts for our cars right from engine, suspension, brakes to stuff like spoilers, tires, wheel rims. The visual customization along with the livery editor is also very deep and has a lot of freedom to create your own designs. We can also use shared designs from other players.
Perhaps the biggest and my most favorite feature of the game is the way it utilizes the DualSense controllers. While games like Returnal, Ratchet & Clank, Horizon Forbidden West enhance the feel of gameplay through the DualSense, this is the first game where the DualSense features add to the gameplay in a meaningful way. The adaptive triggers have tension when you press them, this makes it so easy to feather the throttle, brake as needed, and hold at levels you want. The haptic feedback is also great to feel when the wheels are spinning out, going on different surfaces, brakes locking. This is easily the best DualSense usage among all PS5 games. I just wish they had options to change the trigger and analog stick dead zone because I feel sometimes very light touches also give inputs.
Presentation & User Interface :
We navigate the game through a world map that has various locations for each activity. The UI overall feels very rich and polished. When buying cars we can view a museum for the manufacturer that goes through their history. There’s a separate legend cars showroom that has classic cars for sale on a rotating basis. Then there’s the scrapes mode where we place our cars in real-world spots and take photos. The photo mode options are deep and can help to take some amazing wallpaper-worthy shots. Fair warning that visuals in scrapes mode photos are not to be confused with actual in-game graphics.
There are some glaring problems with the UI when it comes to navigation. We can’t cycle through the first and last entries of any menu, this becomes a problem when sorting through cars in the garage. Whenever we enter the tuning & customization shop we can only use the car we are currently driving. If we want to tune/customize another car we have to go back to the garage through the world map, change the car and go back.
Game modes :
The game is brimming with content to enjoy. There are 400+ cars from many international manufacturers, 34 track locations each with multiple layouts. The tracks include both real-world locations and fictional ones created by Polyphony Digital. My favorites are the urban streets of the Tokyo expressway, Mount Panorama & of course the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife. It’s a pleasure to drive some amazing cars in these tracks with customized weather options.
When it comes to game modes there are all the standard ones like time trial, custom races, multiplayer lobbies, sport mode ( ranked multiplayer ), License center. The License center, in particular, is so helpful to learn to drive the proper way and the way they gradually introduce us to driving techniques is very impressive.
The newest additions this time are the Cafe mode, Missions & the Music Rally mode.
Cafe mode serves as the Career mode of this game. From the world map, when we go to the Cafe, we are greeted by Luca. He gives out Cafe Menus or Quests that we need to complete which will unlock some cars or tracks as rewards. The progression system is done very well here; we are slowly introduced to various features of the game. Also, we unlock different classes of cars like Japanese hatchbacks, American muscles, European compacts with each quest. The biggest flaw in this mode is that literally all of the cafe mode races have a rolling start with all cars starting in a single line, with us on the last. This means, in some tracks, the race leader is already at end of the sector when we start the race. Every single race ends up as a chase, this becomes such a slog as we go through races/restart them. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if career mode was optional but here to unlock all tracks we have to finish career mode. Another problem is that the cafe mode is completely arcade outside of actual driving – we can bump & crash cars, rebound off corners, cut corners without any penalties/car damage. The AI was also inconsistent even in the highest difficulty. Sometimes they hold the line well, but won’t even budge a bit even if we are the fastest car through a corner & sometimes when we overtake and come back to the driving line they will just bump you on the back and spin you out.
The tracks and objectives complexity increases as we complete more quests. When we unlock cars we also get a small look into their history which is told through text-only dialogues. I just wish they had voice acting for these NPC’s which would have definitely improved the overall immersion. Apart from this, we can meet real-world car designers in the cafe who talk and give some cool information about the car we are currently using – again just text, no voice.
Missions is another good mode that keeps the gameplay varied. They have objectives like drag races, drift trials, speed objectives, overtake in a certain sector of the track, and more. They vary in difficulty across multiple track locations. Getting gold in all these gives some good cars and credits.
The Music rally mode feels like a weak addition. We select one of 5 tracks and drive-through checkpoints to keep the music running. I got bored of this quickly, and anyway we can do this by turning up the music volume in settings during custom races.
The Multiplayer mode worked without any issues for me. In sport mode, there is a racing ranking for driving well and also a ranking behaving well without crashing. There are also entry conditions like car class, performance rating, tire type to keep a level playing field. My disappointment is that so far I have seen only the same 2 tracks each day in this mode which is a shame.
Microtransactions & Always online :
Here comes my biggest issue with the game. To no one’s surprise, there are microtransactions. We can directly buy in-game credits with real money, the game constantly gives us the option to “Top-up credits from PlayStation store” whenever we spend credits in-game. The car prices don’t help to ease up this situation as they can go high up to 3 million in-game credits. Even though the game gives a decent amount of credits for races, it is still going to be a huge grind to get some of the good cars. The fact that used car shop listing and legendary car shop listing rotates timely only adds to push the players towards microtransactions. For a 4999 INR (70$) priced game, this feels awful. To add to the FOMO, the cars in the used car shop go “Out of Stock” which I have no clue as to why – do they have limited copies of a digital car?
The game also requires you to be always online to access 90% of the content. While offline you can only access a few arcade mode races, a few tracks with a pre-set selection of cars. That’s right we can’t even use the cars we own when offline. We can’t use any other mode like cafe mode, car customization, license center, etc all of which clearly don’t have any online functionality. I had the Gran Turismo server issues twice during my time of play so far which made me stuck with the arcade mode.
Disclaimer: Review copy provided by PlayStation India. Game reviewed on PlayStation 5 with DualSense controller.
Gran Turismo 7 PS5 Review
Gran Turismo 7 is certainly a return to form for this long-running series and puts it among the best sim racing games available on consoles currently. The game is brimming with a love for car culture, history, and passion. It’s a great driving experience for enthusiasts and casual players alike with some excellent car physics. The DualSense features and visuals make it feel next-gen. There’s also a lot of content on offer here that will keep you racing for a long time to come. However, glaring issues start showing themselves gradually. The Cafe mode rolling start, Inconsistent AI, UI issues, Microtransactions, and Online requirements did affect my enjoyment of the game the more I kept playing.