The Gran Turismo series is ageless, with each game special in its own merits for the era and platform it was released on. The original became an instant classic, the sequel improved to the limits of the original PlayStation, and the trend continues. Flash forward to the near end of the PS4 and the advent of the PS5 with the return of Gran Turismo. It’s not Gran Turismo Sport, but a numbered entry in the series. Gran Turismo 7 is finally here and it offers things I didn’t expect. It’s not just about the cars and tracks, but the addictive gameplay and content of Gran Turismo 7 keeps me coming back for more.
Gran Turismo 7 begins with a revitalized throwback, an opening featuring the Moon Over The Castle theme. For a longtime fan of the franchise, starting the game instantly becomes a moment to remember. Once the opening finished and the settings configured, I have the right to Music Rally which is a new mode of the series. The mode combines music and racing in a new way as players try to cover the furthest distance within the duration of a song. The beat of the song vibrates through the PS5’s DualSense controller as I familiarize myself with the game’s enhanced controls. After the first race is complete, I head to the world map where the world of GT7 begins.
Unlike previous games in the series, GT7 features a new progression system. Players progress by collecting cars, completing cafe menus, and increasing their Collector Level. Completing menus grants players unlocks such as new modes, championships, tracks, and more. Leveling up as a Collector also grants useful unlocks such as the return of Mission Mode, racing clothes, and better tuning options. This creates a satisfying game loop right from the start instead of increasing uncertainty about which cars I should get first. Additionally, races reward more cars than ever before, as gift cars are given with progression in menus. The Daily Workout returns from GT Sport, giving players another incentive to pursue as they play the game.
Perfect the apex
Going from GT Sport to GT7 feels like a leap and more than I expected. The game looks beautiful with different tracks, dynamic weather, day/night cycles and photo mode. The game’s performance mode is the middle ground between stunning effects and high frame rates. The quality mode is still excellent, but I personally prefer the high speed and responsive feel that comes with a consistently high frame rate that never drops. Whether it’s waking up in torrential rain at the Nürburgring in Germany or on the highway in Tokyo, the game doesn’t disappoint when it comes to graphics and performance. It’s worth watching these replays after a race, even if it’s just for a photo.
GT7 gameplay has been greatly improved compared to GT6 and Sport. It feels like a fitting evolution while still feeling familiar from past racing games. A perfect blend of simulation and arcade racing. Each car has its respective performance and identity that sets it apart and reminds fans why they love that car model. For example, an R34 GT-R Nissan Skyline feels very different from a highly tuned Porsche 911 GT3 (997). A car’s sounds, oversteer, cockpit and overall feel are finely implemented with the most realism in the entire franchise. This results in a truly unique track experience in so many cars and conditions through tuning.
Gran Turismo has come a long way and GT7 finally feels like the racing simulator for tuner enthusiasts. The game includes various setting options ranging from sports to extreme and tailored to the needs of gamers. These options include suspension, engine, turbo, brake, ECU to name a few. A normal sedan becomes a racing machine in more ways than one. Wide body kits are amazing among the hundreds of cars and this is just one of the customization possibilities. Fenders, rims, brake calipers, custom body parts and more are available to customize a car. All of these tuning and customization upgrades also contribute to the overall performance (PP). Players have access to all of this in the Tuning Shop and GT Auto. As in previous games, the parameters of each car can be changed before races and in the garage.
Like tuner cars, any car deserves a beautiful livery through its vibrant paintwork. This is where Showcase comes in as a returning feature. Players can share their custom vinyls and car designs around the world for others to like, comment on, share and collect for their use. Do you want a Neon Genesis Evangelion themed Honda S2000? You’ll probably find it here along with many other amazing designs from patient and talented gamers. These liveries are then applied at GT Auto and players can also customize their car’s current paint, vinyls and more. GT7 offers a significant and diverse expansion of customization that not only suits the series, but also right now, as there are no major games like Need for Speed.
Looking back at GT Sport, it’s clear that the focus on the internet was a testing ground for what Polyphony Digital could bring to their online offerings. Many elements of the previous game are back, such as driver rating, sportsmanship, online racing, championships (inactive at time of review) and more. However, that’s not the only focus of GT7 and instead complements the game by having more to play with others between multiplayer and sports modes. With that in mind, permanent online presence is required to play the game again. It’s kind of a shame because a lot of single player content is available and I hope Polyphony Digital fixes it someday so a brilliant game in GT7 can be preserved like so many before Sport.
GT7’s online features still need some improvement and in some ways have regressed compared to Sport. Rooms cannot be edited by the host once they are opened, which means hosts must close the room and open a new one. To meet the restrictions of online racing, a ton of tweaks are needed and it can take time just to get a proper setup. Track voting options, more race options, and adjustments to setting requirements would be great to ensure a fair and streamlined experience. Bug fixes are needed to address possible exploits such as bypassing HP limits. Like GT Sport, GT7 will receive updates over time to improve online and add more content. GT Sport’s update cycle has greatly helped GT Sport after its lackluster launch, so the future already looks bright for GT7.
GT7 is a truly rewarding game to play with tons of gift cars and cash prizes waiting for natural progression and challenges. For example, Mission Mode offers rare cars and lots of money to earn by completing special missions. Circuit Experience and License Tests also rewards players with money to learn the game. The Daily Workout system rewards one roulette ticket per day which can reward the player with a gift car, an invitation to buy a rare car, coins setting and money. That being said, chasing legendary cars such as an expensive Ferrari F50 or Porsche 911 GT1 is a difficult task, as cars like this cost around $3 million. This isn’t surprising given the history of past GT games having priceless cars to chase.
As for microtransactions, they are rarely present in the game and are not incentivized or predatory like a recent game like Chocobo GP. However, the microtransactions themselves reverted to the same system found in GT6. Players have the option of buying in-game money with real currency instead of buying cars like in GT Sport. It’s never affected my game or my experience, but it’s very important to make that distinction so it doesn’t surprise people as a new scheme. Personally, I don’t mind as GT7 will be supported for many years to come and this could be used to fund more new content in the future while Sony moves on to other projects.
Last round (not really)
Gran Turismo 7 is a serious evolution of the long-running series and one second away from being a masterpiece. If online issues are resolved in a timely manner, nothing is holding this game back. Polyphony Digital is currently on the lookout for minor glitches and bugs while delivering a truly amazing racing game. GT7 radiates commitment to the craftsmanship of racing and game development. I feel the effort put into the game every time I play it and I’m glad there’s more to come with the updates. The game at launch alone gave me many hours of content and I still have more to look forward to. It’s time for Forza Motorsport, Need for Speed and other racing franchises to take the next step to greatness as well.
Disclaimer: This copy of Gran Turismo 7 was purchased by the reviewer and was not given as a review copy by PlayStation.