Gran Turismo holds a special place in me, having grown up with the franchise since it started in 1997. The idea of collecting cars, racing through a library of iconic tracks, and learning various driving techniques to improve your lap time, all in a rinse-repeat fashion never grows old. Fast forward to 2022 and the franchise returns with Gran Turismo 7, coinciding with the franchise’s 25th anniversary. But how does the latest offering compare with the previous release?
If you have played Gran Turismo Sport, you will feel right at home as the user interface mostly remains the same. You start the game off in Gran Turismo World, which is a small town with buildings that act as menu options, such as the tuning shop, auto garage and car dealerships. Each of these options is progressively unlocked throughout the course of the game. Before competing in your first race, you must select a used car to purchase. I found the selection of used cars to choose from to be rather humorous, as the prices accurately reflect their current real-world resale values (such as a 2001 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R that costs six-figures in-game).
Previous Gran Turismo titles have essentially been left open-ended from the start, allowing the player to define their own direction by selecting any race they like and purchasing whichever car needed to compete in that race (subject to credits available and licence attained). With Gran Turismo 7, the game incorporates a new system constructed around a café in Gran Turismo World, called Menu Books. Each time you visit the café, the owner offers you a Menu Book, which contains the objectives in order to complete it. Think of this system as if it were a mission or a quest. Once you accept the Menu Book, you then go and complete the objectives required before returning to the café. These objectives range from obtaining certain cars that are won through races or winning a podium finish in a championship. After finishing numerous Menu Books, more aspects of Gran Turismo World start to unlock, along with new tracks to race on, which gives you added functionality to the game. I found the Menu Book system to be very complementary to the overall experience as it gives players a defined direction on how to play the game, without changing the core aspects of Gran Turismo.
These core aspects are collecting cars, performing tuning upgrades, general maintenance and licence tests, which all remain as part of the franchise’s formula, but have been emphasised further in Gran Turismo 7. Each car that you win or purchase earns the player Collector Points, which increases your player level in the game. A higher player level unlocks additional features such as more tuning upgrades for your car. Taking your car to the tuning shop will allow you to purchase these upgrades and give you the winning advantage in a race, and the system is designed in a user-intuitive way for those who may not be as savvy with the automotive mechanical side of things. Each car in Gran Turismo 7 has a performance score (think of it as an average figure) and each upgrade will tell you how much it will increase or decrease your score, giving you a clearer idea as to whether the selected upgrade will be of benefit to your car. Following the performance score system makes tuning and car purchasing a breeze. If you are into car tuning just like in real-life, the game also accommodates this with a wealth of other options that can be modified on your car.
Also just like in real-life, car maintenance needs to be performed for your car to be running smoothly. This can range from a simple car wash to a regular car servicing, all the way up to an engine rebuild. It’s amazing how in-depth Gran Turismo 7 goes without making it seem over-complicated for the average player. Just like in previous Gran Turismo games, the licence tests feature as a challenge in order to gain access to further races, along with providing a way to learn and improve your racing technique. Gran Turismo 7 also features online multiplayer and online championships for players to compete in, however, the functionality of these features were limited while reviewing the game.
As Gran Turismo 7 is the first title in the franchise to release on PS5, the game makes good use of the console’s features such as haptic feedback and ray-tracing visual effects. Each time you turn into a corner, open up along a straight or even a simple gear change can be felt in the DualSense controller, which makes for an amazing and immersive experience. The adaptive trigger functionality is also used, where you can feel the shudder of the brake and acceleration pedals at your fingertips. Adding to this immersive experience is the ray-tracing effects, which offer very realistic lighting such as reflections on car body panels or even day scene lighting where dynamic weather is in play. Ray-tracing can be turned on or off, depending if you prefer enhanced visual effects or a higher frame rate.
So how does Gran Turismo 7 hold up, when compared to other racing games? I find that most racing games feel like some sort of caffeine hit, whereas Gran Turismo 7 is like a fine-aged bottle of wine. The game exudes elegance with its level of polish and detail, complemented with easy-listening background music and various side notes of automotive history scattered throughout. Polyphony Digital have done a stellar job creating this game for the newest generation of Gran Turismo players, while retaining the core aspects that embody the franchise. If you are after a realistic racing experience on a latest generation console, Gran Turismo 7 is nothing short of being the benchmark of car racing games.
Gran Turismo 7 was reviewed on PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.