The Gran Turismo franchise has consistently set the benchmark when it comes to racing games since its creation in 1997, with its unwavering pursuit for realism and attention to detail for car and track design. It’s 2017 and the franchise is back with its latest offering, but does Gran Turismo Sport stay in the lead in the race for the ultimate racing game experience?
Gran Turismo Sport is the seventh main release of the franchise, developed by Polyphony Digital and exclusive to PS4. It is the first Gran Turismo title to make its way over to current-gen and has been heralded by series creator Kazunori Yamauchi as the beginning of the second generation, with the first six main releases being referred to as the first generation.
After running the display calibration setup for the first time, the intro video plays which shows off the high fidelity of the car and track detailing. It makes you feel like you did a great job going through the setup as the colours are rich and vibrant, edge lines on the cars are sharp and it immediately makes you hyped and expectant of what is to come in the game.
The showcasing of the game continues at the main menu, and how it is designed. The user interface is designed in a border style, with all the main options and profile stats in the header and sub-options on the left pane. This is so that all the screen space is used to feature the various in-game cars in the background. The cars are featured in different ways, with various photos and videos highlighting the immense attention to detail. Some photos I was unable to tell whether they were in-game or real. One example is a video of a randomly selected car driving though a forest with the sunlight breaking through the trees and shining onto the car panels. I love how after a few minutes without touching the controller, the user interface disappears and the background continues to play, effectively turning the menu into a classy slideshow of cars.
Gran Turismo Sport is divided into three key sections, Arcade, Campaign and Sport. Arcade is your standard arcade racing, whether it be single player or two player split screen. There are 38 different tracks to select from, however only five are available at first with the remaining to be unlocked depending on your experience level. This seems restrictive at first, but with the course of the gameplay in Gran Turismo Sport, this is an easy feat to overcome and also acts as a motivator to unlock your favourite race track (such as Mount Panorama). Each track is available in Beginner, Intermediate and a Hard mode, with the ability to set the time of day that you want to race.
Campaign features a number of racing challenges, which are divided into three segments:
- Driving School – Consists of 24 challenges, in similar fashion to the licence challenges in previous Gran Turismo titles
- Mission Challenge – Consists of 8 stages, with each stage containing 8 missions which are various driving challenges eg. Pass five cars in the time allocated
- Circuit Experience – 22 tracks to learn about cornering and braking on different segments on each track
Although Campaign teaches you to be a better race car driver, the game lacks any sort of championship races. It seems like the focus of Gran Turismo Sport is to either race casually in Arcade mode or train in Campaign to give it your best shot in Sport mode. Sport is the online segment of Gran Turismo Sport, where you can race online with other players in the world in casual races or you can race in the official races that Gran Turismo hosts.
After each race in Gran Turismo Sport, you earn money and points which are separated into four categories:
- Prize Money – Used to buy more cars
- Mileage Points – Can be used to improve car performance
- Distance – Adds to your Daily Workouts stats, where you receive a gift car from completing a minimum distance (referred to as the Driving Marathon) each day
- Experience – This is your XP, which increases your level and unlocks access to new tracks in Arcade mode
This is a very simplified and easy way to follow what you are earning and how much you are progressing in the game. The higher the difficulty, the more money and points are awarded.
Brand Central is where you purchase cars from to add to your library. This section is divided into three regions: America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The selection is rather modest with the number of car brands to choose from, however the selection does contain quite a few quality cars including the Vision Gran Turismo cars. This collection includes dream concept cars designed by car brands at the request of Polyphony Digital as a way of expressing their ultimate car design philosophies, without having to think of engineering feasibility.
Scapes is the photography section of Gran Turismo Sport, where you can take photos of all your cars in your library, using various landscapes around the world. This section is divided into three sub-sections, allowing for full customisation of the shot you want to take:
- Car – Selecting the car in your library as well as adjusting the cars features (headlights, taillights, indicators, car position)
- Camera – Settings of the camera can be fully adjusted, just like a DSLR (aperture, exposure, shutter speed to name a few. Photographers, eat your heart out!)
- Effects – This can be applied to your photo using filter presets or individual filter effect adjustments
I’m thoroughly impressed with how many customisation options there are, and the effort pays off when you go through and use what is available to you to take that perfect shot of your car.
Gran Turismo Sport also features PSVR support, with VR Mode being divided into VR Race and VR Showcase. VR Race is essentially Arcade mode in VR, with VR Showcase being a walkaround of a selected car in the arcade library. I am amazed with how well used the VR capabilities are in this game, as full 360-degree view is achieved while being in the driver’s seat. This allows for an incredibly immersive experience, which could be added further with the pairing of a steering wheel.
One downside to Gran Turismo Sport is how much the game relies on an internet connection. During the review, there was one instance where the servers were down for maintenance and the game was effectively in offline mode. I could only access to Arcade mode with the rest of the game’s functionality being disabled. I understand why Sport wouldn’t work, but I don’t understand why Campaign or even Scapes would have an online dependency.
Although Gran Turismo Sport stays true to the franchise’s tagline, “The Real Racing Simulator”, its lack of an offline championship racing mode is a bit of a let-down. Nonetheless, with its first foray onto PS4, it is still a standout title with driving realism in its focal point, along with a glimpse of what Polyphony Digital will have planned in the future.
Gran Turismo Sport was reviewed on a PS4 Pro and a PSVR, using a review code provided by the publisher.