The Gran Turismo series is ageless with each game being special in it’s own merits for the time and platform it 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 the end of the PS4 and the advent of the PS5 with the return of Gran Turismo. This is not Gran Turismo Sport, but a numbered entry in the series. Gran Turismo 7 is finally here and it delivers in ways I didn’t expect. It’s not just about the cars and the tracks, but the addicting gameplay and content of Gran Turismo 7 keeps me coming back for more.
Gran Turismo 7 starts with a revitalized throwback, an opening featuring the Moon Over The Castle theme. For a longtime fan of the franchise, beginning the game instantly becomes a moment to remember. Once the opening finishes and settings are configured, I’m treated to the Music Rally which is a new mode to the series. The mode combines music and racing in a new way as players try to travel the farthest distance within a song’s duration. The song’s beat pulses through the PS5’s DualSense controller as I familiarize myself with the game’s improved controls. Once I finished the first race, I’m off to the World Map where the world of GT7 begins.
Unlike past games in the series, GT7 features a new progression system. Players progress by collecting cars, completing Menus at the Café, and raising their collector level. Completing Menus grants players with unlocks such as new modes, championships, tracks and much more. Leveling up as a collector also grants useful unlocks such as the returning Mission Mode, racing apparel, and better tuning options. This creates a satisfying gameplay loop from the get-go instead of raising uncertainty about what cars I should get first. Additionally, races award more cars than ever before as gift cars are given with progression through Menus. The Daily Workout returns from GT Sport, giving players another incentive to chase as they play the game.
Perfecting the Apex
Going from GT Sport to GT7 feels like a leap and more so than I anticipated. The game looks stunning across various tracks, dynamic weather, day/night cycles and photo mode. The game’s performance mode is the sweet spot between amazing effects and high frame rates. The quality mode is still great but I personally prefer the sense of speed and high responsiveness that comes with a constant high frame rate that never dips. Either it’s raising in torrential rain across the Nürburgring in Germany or the expressway in Tokyo, the game does not disappoint in visuals and performance. It’s worth watching those replays after a race, even if it’s just for a photo.
GT7’s gameplay has been greatly improved over GT6 and Sport. It feels like a proper evolution while feeling familiar to the past racing games. A perfect blend of simulation and arcade racing. Each car has it’s respective performance and identity that makes it stand out and reminds fans why they love that car model. For instance, an R34 GT-R Nissan Skyline feels vastly different than a highly tuned Porsche 911 GT3 (997). The sounds, the oversteer, the cockpit, and the overall feel of a car are finely implemented with the most realism in the entire franchise. This translates into a really unique track experience across so many cars and conditions thanks to tuning.
Gran Turismo came a long way and GT7 finally feels like the sim racer for tuner enthusiasts. The game includes various tuning options from sports to the extreme and suited for the needs of players. 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 look incredible across the hundreds of cars and that’s just one avenue of customization. Wings, rims, brake calipers, custom body parts and much more are available to make a car my own. All 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. Like past games, individual car settings may be tweaked before races and in the Garage.
Like tuner cars, any car deserves a great livery across its vibrant paint. This is where Showcase comes in as a returning feature. Players can share their custom made vinyls and car designs across the world for others to like, comment, share and collect for their use. Do you want a Neon Genesis Evangelion themed Honda S2000? You will probably find it here with many other amazing designs from patient, talented players. These liveries are then applied at GT Auto and players can customize their car’s current paint job, vinyls and more there as well. GT7 features a meaningful and diverse expansion to customization that feels proper for not just the series, but for the current time as there’s an absence of major games such as Need for Speed.
Integrating the Sport
Looking back at GT Sport, it’s clear that the online focus was a testing ground for what Polyphony Digital could bring for their online offerings. Many elements from the prior game are back such as driver rating, sportsmanship rating, online races, championships (inactive at time of review) and more. However, it’s not the sole focus of GT7 and rather complements the game by having more to play with others between Multiplayer and Sport modes. With this in mind, the ever-online presence is needed to play the game once again. It’s rather unfortunate since a lot of single-player content is available and I hope that Polyphony Digital remedies this someday so that a brilliant game in GT7 may be preserved like the many before Sport.
Online features in GT7 still need some improvements and in some regards, regressed from Sport. Lobbies can not be edited by the host once it has opened which means hosts must close the lobby and open a new one. To meet restrictions for online races, a ton of tuning is needed and it may take time just to have a suitable setup. Track voting options, more race options and tweaks to tuning requirements would be great to ensure a fair, streamlined experience. Bug fixes are necessary to fix any 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 helped greatly in GT Sport following its mediocre launch so the future looks bright already for GT7.
GT7 is a really rewarding game to play with tons of gift cars and prize money waiting in natural progression and challenges. For instance, Mission Mode features rare cars and lots of money to earn by completing special missions. Circuit Experience and License Tests also rewards players with money for learning the game. The Daily Workout system rewards one roulette ticket a day that may reward the player with a gift car, invitation to purchase a rare car, tuning parts and money. That being said, pursuing Legend Cars such as an expensive Ferrari F50 or Porsche 911 GT1 is a grindy task since cars like that costs like $3 million. It’s not surprising considering the history of past GT games having priceless cars to chase.
On the topic of microtransactions, they’re rarely present in the game and aren’t incentivized or predatory such as a recent game like Chocobo GP. However, the microtransactions themselves reverted back to the same system found in GT6. Players have the option to buy in-game money with real-world currency instead of outright buying cars like in GT Sport. This never affected my playthrough or experience, but it’s very important to make that distinction so that this doesn’t surprise people as a new scheme. I personally don’t mind this considering that GT7 will be supported for many years and this could serve to fund more new content going forward while Sony moves onto other projects.
Final Lap (Not Really)
Gran Turismo 7 is a serious evolution of the long-running series and just a second short of being a masterpiece. If the online issues are ironed out in a timely manner, there’s nothing holding this game back. Polyphony Digital is currently on top of chasing issues and minor bugs while still delivering a truly amazing racing game. GT7 radiates commitment to the craft of racing and game development. I feel the effort poured into the game ever time I play it and I’m glad that there’s more to come with updates. The game on launch alone gave me many hours of content and I’ve still got even more to go. It’s time that Forza Motorsport, Need for Speed and other racing franchises make that next step toward greatness as well.
Disclaimer: This copy of Gran Turismo 7 was purchased by the reviewer and not given as a review copy by PlayStation.