How GT7's Music Rally has Baffled Players

Music Rally has been in Gran Turismo 7 since launch, but the recent addition of more events has left some players asking hard questions about the game and the people making these decisions...

For most Gran Turismo 7 players, Music Rally is unlikely to be the first thing they picture whenever the game is mentioned. Given the turbulent period the game has endured since it was released back in March 2022, it can be easy to forget that Music Rally was one of the few new features that GT7 introduced, and it featured quite prominently in the marketing for the game as well.

So, how can it be that this game mode has become so completely and utterly irrelevant for players, and is there anything Polyphony can do to improve the situation?

What is Music Rally?

Firstly, let’s define what the Music Rally mode is. To put it simply, Music Rally is a mode in which the player is tasked with driving as far as they can within a certain time limit. This time limit is dictated by the length of the song which is playing, but there is also a countdown which reduces the number of ‘beats’ available in time with the song. If the number of beats hits zero then the event ends.

The VW Beetle participating in a Music Rally in Gran Turismo 7
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The player can pass through checkpoints to replenish beats, and there are other cars on the track – although they don’t serve any purpose other than to act as obstacles for the player. In practice, it’s quite similar to many old-school arcade racers. The first Music Rally event (at Alsace in a Porsche 356) acts as tutorial as it’s necessary to complete it when booting up the game for the first time.

Why add more Music Rallies?

When GT7 launched there were only six Music Rallies available. Despite that small number, it’s clear that a large portion of players didn’t engage with the mode beyond that initial tutorial. To describe the reception to Music Rally as “Luke-warm” would be an understatement…

Music Rally was always advertised as a relaxing mode in which you could enjoy driving with music, but the implications of that meant that, to most players, there was no reason to care. Although there are targets for Gold, Silver and Bronze, there are no rewards given for Music Rally. They do not count towards any form of completion and don’t even factor into your daily ‘Driving Marathon’ distance.

A screenshot of GT7 explaining Music Rally to the player
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The only benefit is that they can be played offline, unlike the rest of the single-player. But despite all of this, in June’s update version 1.35 six more Music Rally events were added to the game. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be very much aware that one of the biggest complaints with GT7 is the lack of meaningful content and things to do.

And, needless to say, more Music Rallies – with their non-existent stakes or rewards – do not help to fill that void. It comes across as even more tone-deaf than Polyphony usually is. Especially so when you consider that they still continue with their rigid monthly plan for adding more normal races – usually only three of four each month – which often takes roughly just an hour to complete, and they still follow the drawn-out ‘chase the rabbit’ style of racing which is all too familiar in GT7.

The Music Rally menu in Gran Turismo 7
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And in most cases, these are just more races for the same event types we already have – such as American Clubman Cup or Japanese 4WD Challenge – which are already well catered for, instead of adding new events – such as for the Gr.2 race cars, historic cars and events from previous Gran Turismo titles also.

Now, we knew more Music Rallies had been planned, so in some ways it’s more surprising that it took them so long to add them, but that still doesn’t excuse their decisions. Do you know what else we had been promised more of? Mission events. Yet the last time we had an update with more of those (the excellent ‘Human Comedy’ series of events) was well over a year ago.

Are there any positives?

It would be a lie to say there is zero enjoyment to gain from the Music Rallies. One plus point is that they often take advantage of lesser-used classic cars, both for use by the player and as other AI cars which appear on track.

Another positive is how they make use of songs which don’t get to be heard fully in the main game. For example, ‘Good Old Days (Classixx Remix)’ is only heard in the Licence Centre menu, which you’re never likely to spend more than fifteen seconds in at a time. So to hear the full song in Music Rally #7 (included in the update) was actually quite refreshing.

A Porsche 911 going around the Nurburgring in Music Rally
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And for all of its problems there’s no doubt that I had a good time sliding that 911 Turbo around the Nordschleife, as GT7’s rendition of ‘Moon Over the Castle’ blared in the background, in Music Rally #12. It’s very much situational, and some Music Rallies I enjoyed far more than others simply based on the song, car and track combination, but any potential this game mode shows is simply wasted by the way it’s been implemented.

Can it be redeemed?

In my view, to redeem Music Rally, Polyphony needs to take inspiration from a previous game mode. In Gran Turismo 6 there was the Sierra Time Rally. It functioned fairly similarly to Music Rally, except music was not a component, but there was still a time countdown which could be extended by passing through checkpoints.

The other AI cars also drove slightly faster than they do in Music Rally and overtaking them gave a time bonus as well as a combo bonus which added to your overall score. All of this made it far more interesting to replay, and the event also gave out prizes which made it far more appealing. Sure, it did have its own bespoke track (Circuito de la Sierra), but I still believe these same ideas could be applied to Music Rally to make it far more engaging.

The Sierra time rally in Gran Turismo 6
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I will concede that does contradict the whole purpose of Music Rally to some degree, which is deliberately relaxed and low-stakes, but GT7 is not the sort of game where a mode like this makes sense. The racing in GT7 isn’t the most intense to begin with, and there are many other distractions beyond racing. So, it isn’t really necessary, and it’s not surprising that most players view it as a waste of time because of these decisions.

Another wasted opportunity comes with the aforementioned car, song and track combination. Due to the focus on classic cars a lot of the time it really does feel like these have been chosen at random, seemingly with no rhyme or reason. For instance, Music Rally #2 uses the hip-hop song ‘Vroom’ which was made for GT7 and references many different types of cars in the lyrics – such as Maseratis, Bugattis, Mustangs and plenty more.

But the Music Rally itself has us driving a classic Honda S800 at Tokyo Expressway. The theming feels completely wrong – unless this is supposed to be ironic, which would be quite funny – but given Polyphony’s track record I highly doubt this is the case. There’s also the argument that it completely misses the chance to celebrate the history of the franchise.

The Honda S800 in Music Ral
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Music Rally #3 has us listening to ‘SURV1V3’, quite a well-known song that originated in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (the cover art for the Music Rally is even the same as GT5P’s), yet the rally itself has us driving a Shelby Cobra at Trial Mountain – both a car and track which were not in GT5P. Why not something like the Ferrari F430 at Daytona which would be far more familiar for those who played that title?

And they could then add some iconic songs from the past of the franchise, for example ‘My Favourite Game’ from Gran Turismo 2, and use iconic car and track combos to represent those games. Given that GT7 was also a 25th anniversary celebration for the series it just makes too much sense for them to not do something like this. Stronger theming would be a massive benefit.

Regardless of what they do it’s unlikely that Music Rally will ever grab the attention of most players but, even still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that – like many things in GT7 – there’s a lot of potential that’s been completely wasted.

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