We have been waiting a long time for Gran Turismo 7, and it is finally here!
Sony & Polyphony Digital first announced Gran Turismo 7 on 11 June 2020, and it will be an excruciating 631 days from announcement to launch, but the day is just around the corner at last.
We've been lucky enough to get hands-on with GT7 and see if the grand old franchise really is still the king of racing.
The first numbered release since Gran Turismo 6 on the PS3, players have had to wait a LONG time to get a single-player Gran Turismo game. Can GT7 possibly live up to the expectations of fans that have poured 25 years into the series?
Let's find out.
Review conducted on PS5 & PS4 with controller & wheel. Review copy provided by publisher.
A love letter to cars
Gran Turismo is a series steeped in its own history, as well as that of long-standing car culture, and GT7 acknowledges that right from the opening movie. From the earliest black-and-white images of motorcars to high-tech manufacturing lines and elite level races, Gran Turismo starts with an ode to cars set to a remix of Moon Over The Castle, and it only grows from there.
The more than seven-minute-long opening movie sets the stage for a game that wants to take you on a journey of discovery through motoring history. Once the opening movie has set your heart on fire you can dive straight into the campaign mode.
Within the whole game there is a sense of reverence for cars, from the lowliest and cheapest compact car to the most expensive and oldest of the lot. History runs through this game, and it's clear that the aim is to educate as well as entertain.
Perhaps the best thing of all though is that it doesn't force this on the player. If you are already a petrolhead or just want to go racing without any extras you can quickly skip the history lessons.
It's a game about racing, that treats motoring like an artform.
A journey to the top
After being absent in Gran Turismo Sport, the traditional single-player aspect of Gran Turismo returns in all its glory in GT7.
While the game holds your hand a little when introducing you to the World Map and all the new locations and interactions, it's not long before you get into the racing.
Right away you are handed 20,000 credits and sent to the Used Car Dealership to snap up your first set of wheels. Then it's on to the GT Cafe for a series of "menus" that give you a path to follow through the game. GT Cafe is also where you will start unlocking tracks, earning reward cars, and generally building your garage.
You start with a Japanese compact in GT7, then it's on to classic European compacts, hot hatches, American muscle, and on and on. The game guides you through the major types of car, giving you the challenge of handling nimble front-wheel drive compacts and tail-happy Japanese drifters.
The Cafe can be a little restrictive. Making you race in a particular type of car that you dislike (American muscle for me!) in order to continue unlocking tracks is a frustration. But the intent is to give new and younger players an education and turn them into car enthusiasts. And of course Gran Turismo enthusiasts!
Hitting the track
So how is the racing? Well, an established franchise is never going to break from its classic formula in a new release. It's safe to say that Gran Turismo 7 feels like a Gran Turismo game, especially on a controller.
The word "simcade" was made for Gran Turismo. It's not as unforgiving as an Assetto Corsa or rFactor 2, but still requires a delicate touch and precise inputs to be fast with the assists turned off. It rewards consistency behind the wheel, and will punish errors.
The DualSense is a great weapon for racing, with the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers letting you feel more of the car and road than ever before. If you have heavy trigger fingers like me and struggle to trail brake on a controller, the DualSense makes it easier than ever before.
The controller players out there also get improvements from the haptic feedback, which gives you another way to sense losses of grip as they happen, rather than having to wait for the visual feedback like you do on the PS4.
With a wheel though, this game comes alive. It feels amazing to hold a drift, catch a snap of oversteer, and slide your way through an esse section.
Gran Turismo 7 is a definite improvement on GT Sport, especially with the environment of your racing. While ray tracing is limited to replays and photo modes, on PS5 the lighting and track environment is beautiful.
The dynamic weather and changeable skies only emphasise this. While car interiors are beautifully crafted and even reflections in the windscreen are so good as to be distracting.
The whole nine yards
Off the track, Gran Turismo 7 is everything we hoped it would be.
The selection of body kits, & custom parts, the livery editor, and Tuning Shop make GT7 fully customisable. While you can't quite take an underpowered hatchback and get it racing against Gr.3 cars, you can tune up anything and make it far more raceable than it otherwise would have been.
The selection of licence tests and missions gives you something to do outside of racing. While the grind for credits is quintessentially Gran Turismo.
The Used Car Dealership, Brand Central, and Legend Cars give you a trio of showrooms to go hunting for your next ride. The Used Car Dealership and Legend Cars are also dynamic. The stock levels for cars changes, as does the price. You could see cars become unavailable, or rocket up in price as the stock drops.
Be sure to have a ready supply of credits in your balance if you want to grab a specific ride!
Of course then there is Scapes for taking photos of your cars, and GT Auto for keeping your rides clean and up to the challenge.
It offers every aspect of automotive culture you could wish for.
So what about the negatives? Well, there are a few.
GT7 doesn't break the mold, and it doesn't really provide compelling racing against the AI. With only three difficulty settings (easy, normal, hard) it's impossible to get opposition drivers that aren't five seconds a lap slower or faster than you.
Split-screen multiplayer is still limited to one vs one rather than competing against a full field of AI cars along with your real opponent.
Those are disappointments, albeit expected of a Gran Turismo game, but perhaps the most frustrating one is the weather.
If you want to set up a custom race and utilise the dynamic weather, or really any weather, you can only do it at a few select circuits. You can't have a weather-impacted race at Laguna Seca or Alsace. You can't even set it to rain at Brands Hatch!
The limits seem to be Japanese tracks, the Nurburgring, and a handful of others. While we knew dynamic weather would only be at some locations, to have NO weather at others is a big shame.
The final issue we have with the game is that while grinding is good, Gran Turismo 7 is a GRIND. You can't sell cars, at least not in the review copy we had access to, if you win a part in your roulette ticket reward there is no exchanging it for credits.
You can't even repeat Missions to re-earn prize money. The only option is racing. While the game gifts you a good deal of cars as you go, you need to upgrade them to keep winning, and if you want to go to Legend Cars and by a classic Alfa Romeo or a DB5 then you will have to race A LOT.
That, or you can buy credits with real money. Microtransactions are part and parcel of modern gaming, but it feels like the balance is a little off. Unless the ability to sell cars into the Used Car Dealership opens up on launch day, you're going to be in for a long road before you can replicate your GT Sport garage.
Is it good on PS4?
Finding a PS5 is still incredibly tricky, so if you haven't been able to grab one yet can you still enjoy Gran Turismo 7?
As expected, the visuals aren't as good as they are on PS5 and the frame rate is lower, but the game plays just the same. Best of all your save file carries over, so you won't have to start again when you do get a PS5.
Gran Turismo 7 is a sensational game. It sprinkles plenty of nostalgia across a racing formula that has been refined over the course of 25 years.
It's accessible while remaining hard to master, and should convert a lot of casual racers into true petrolheads. It's not perfect though.
It feels like Sony & Polyphony has played it safe rather than trying to push the boundaries. There is plenty here for those that don't enjoy online racing, but until GT Sophy arrives it is limited. You won't have classic battles against AI drivers like you can in other titles.
One or two more risks in development and it could have been a true generation-defining game. The world of simulation racing games is much more competitive than it used to be in Gran Turismo's heyday, and it doesn't feel like Polyphony has adapted to that. Following the example of a sliding scale for AI performance and aggression rather than a simple trio of hard-coded options would lift this game to another level.
As it is, Gran Turismo 7 is a must-buy for PlayStation racers, but is likely to just miss out on truly iconic status.
RacingGames Rating: 9/10