Gran Turismo 7 review

Gran Turismo 7 Review - A Legacy of Love on Display

If you take Gran Turismo Sport out of the equation, it has been nine years since the release of the last “true” GT title that adhered to the standard formula that Polyphony has followed since 1997. And it’s not that Sport was a bad title, it just deviated from a formula that fans of the series had grown to love over two decades. Either way, the wait is over and GT7 is here. I’ve been playing the game over the last week, and so the time is now for my Gran Turismo 7 review.

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Gran Turismo 7 Review

Before getting to my thoughts, I do want to point out a couple “back of the box” items for those who have not been following the pre-release coverage. For starters, the PS5 version will utilize the system’s DualSense controller, meaning its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. To add to that, the PlayStation 5 version of Gran Turismo 7 does reach 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. GT7 also includes over 420 cars at launch, 90 track routes, 34 locations, and a new campaign mode. So while this is not quite the hulking monster that GT5 or GT6 became in terms of content, there is a lot here at launch.

What I Like

Gran Turismo 7 campaign mode

Campaign Mode

The all-new campaign mode found in Gran Turismo 7 is a lengthy journey where you will interact with multiple characters while racing multiple tracks and cars, and unlocking multiple vehicles and rewards along the way. Although the journey was long (yes, I finished it during the review), there is no denying the amazing experience that awaits those who are looking to take the ride. For me, it was addictive, informative, exciting, and fulfilling. Plus, it was everything I was hoping it would be and more.

As I progressed through the campaign mode, the game did an exceptional job of walking me through the steps of how to progress, how to modify my vehicle, and taught me the history of each vehicle and manufacturer.

GT7 review

Initially, in typical GT fashion, I started out in lower powered cars and raced against simpler opponents on easier tracks with approachable layouts. While this may seem boring or mundane to some, the way it was handled seemed perfect for me. It also put the emphasis on the fact that campaign mode truly was a expedition that allowed me to gain confidence and understanding of how everything worked.

Nothing in GT7 is meant to feel rushed. It is a process, and the way it is handled works in a harmonic way that allowed me to enjoy the path taken while appreciating the time and effort it took to create this mode. The campaign mode is also where the world map is introduced, and while most of it is locked away at first, this is the epicenter of the game that many will spend their time navigating.

Being careful not to disclose too much for those who are eagerly awaiting a chance to play GT7, just know the campaign mode took me for a ride that excited and frustrated me while ultimately delivering a spectacular experience.

On-Track Race Physics

A racing game can be deep and stunningly beautiful, but if it fails to deliver realism, competitiveness, and fairness on the track, it will wind up being a forgotten title within months, if not weeks. Fans looking forward to GT7 can relax and know full well that the driving and racing model waiting for them ranges from good to stellar.

As I mentioned before, there are over 420 cars found in Gran Turismo, and while I did not experience all of them during my time with the game, I did drive close to 100 of them. With that in mind, I can honestly say that every single vehicle felt different and unique. The more I drove, the more I came to the understanding that GT7 required me to drive each car the way it was intended to be driven.

Gran Turismo 7 review

It’s a simple concept, but it only breaks through if you understand that a car isn’t driven through the steering wheel, but rather through the car’s accelerator and brake system. On top of that, having an understanding of the track itself and the weather that is surrounding the track matters a lot here. There are multiple factors in play while trying to achieve success on the track, and Gran Turismo 7 demands that you take them all into account if you want to see the podium at the end of the race.

Never has a racing game on consoles pushed the idea of nuance to this degree. I had to remain focused in every single race in regards to feathering the gas and brake pedal, rolling through turns, and hitting those turns with just enough speed to keep momentum — but not so much as to roll out of the groove. While this may seem a bit overwhelming, it is done in a way in-game that helps educate you through the process and helps you naturally progress so you understand how to race each car at each track.

The developers have done this by implementing a physics system that allows you to feel how the car is reacting to the ground, how your tires are reacting to the tarmac, and feeling the inertia of pushing the car too far into a turn. Once you put it all together, your approach will start to become second nature as you maneuver your away around the track and around traffic. Understanding how to roll through turns with momentum and casually sliding by an opponent on the outside groove will become routine.

However, I do think you should do one thing to get to this level. I would recommend turning off the brake assists in the options because having them on will skew your progress and impede your ability to get around the track in a competitive race.

AI Versus Human Opponents

Gran Turismo 7 AI

The AI in GT7 was touted as a huge step forward, if not genre defining. While I would not go that far with the praise, I can safely say that the AI is much more competitive on the higher levels of difficulty than in past versions of the Gran Turismo franchise. I still cannot describe the AI racers as being elite adversaries, but the AI in GT7 does now make a strong effort to block attempts to pass, retain or gain back position, and often will go out of its way to leave you very little space to maneuver around them.

I found the level of fairness to be, well, very fair. Rarely did a digital competitor ever intentionally come down on me or try to take me out with what I would deem a shady tactic. In fact, they seemed to go out of their way to race extremely clean — to the point where we could all remain friends after we took off the racing suits.

Not everything works though in terms of the competition. Often in races, even on the hardest difficulty, I found myself destroying the other cars, or at best fighting only one or two for the win. I also took issue with how the AI raced against each other, and I will dive deeper into that topic in an upcoming section. The bottom line here is that the competitive offline racing system that Polyphony has implemented works well for the most part, but there is still room for improvement in a couple different areas.

Car Collection And History

 

GT7 is a driving simulator. It has always been that, and the developers have gone out of their way to reinforce that idea. These folks love cars, and it comes through in so many ways that make the franchise special in that regard. One could also describe the series as a car collector’s dream. At its core, the theme of GT7 is no different than previous titles because the basic premise is to race, collect cars for your garage, and then wash, rinse, and repeat.

That said, one of the extremely cool peripheral inclusions here is the small little video breakdowns of each and every car or car collection that you obtain throughout your time with GT7. You will become extremely familiar with an in-game personality named “Luca” because he is center of this knowledge and information.

I typically am not a fan of developers spending time and resources on efforts like this, but for GT7 I make an exception because of how the information is handled and delivered. After you finish off a series of races or win a championship, you head back to the Café located on the world map. At this point, Luca congratulates you, disperses your reward(s), and depending on the type of race or reward you earned, a small history lesson ensues with a quick video of the history of the car or car manufacturer.

It is done in such an expeditious fashion that I never once felt the need to hurry through it, and I often found myself truly enjoying the information and coinciding presentation. Is this something that people will talk about or consider a game seller? No, but it’s little efforts like these that make playing Gran Turismo 7 a true experience and not just another video game.

Graphical Pop

Due to the preview showcases, I was not surprised by a world that was visually beautiful and saturated with details. Still, that does not mean I have not been consistently impressed by the beauty on display here. There are games that create a world full of spectacular visuals, but then there is still Gran Turismo providing photo-realistic graphics that at times almost cross the line into unbelievable.

Gran Turismo 7 4K

What also separates GT7 from most titles in the graphics department is that the visual grandeur is everywhere. From the painstakingly recreated vehicles, to the many locales and their surroundings, to the weather, it’s all unreal. What’s most impressive — beyond the cars and locations — is the details found in the minutia of the world. Little things like the way the trees blow in the wind or how the rain beads up and rolls off the windows can’t be approached by many other games out there.

On top of that, the track-side components are alive and full of race-day excitement. Fans pack the stands, and while they’re static at times, there is movement and excitement as the race nears its crescendo. Polyphony has created (or recreated) a world for us to drive and play in that is alive. While I did become accustomed to it after so many hours of driving, the small little details would still catch my eye even while going 250 mph down a straightaway.

What I Don’t Like

Gran Turismo 7 review

AI Competitiveness Vs. Each Other

As much as I appreciated the new AI system found in Gran Turismo 7, it wasn’t perfection. One of the biggest concerns I have with any racing title is how well the AI drivers race against each other without me being involved, and are they prone to mistakes without any involvement?

As good as the AI raced against me in GT7, when fighting each other for position I rarely saw anything that looked aggressive. The AI opponents would utilize the draft of the car ahead and pull aside to try and gain position, but it was almost always done so in a very casual way. In essence, it felt like the AI drivers were exchanging apologies and insurance information for small bumps.

Another aspect that is a struggle is the lack of mistakes by the AI. The worst I witnessed was AI opponents slightly falling out of the groove or having a quick wiggle due to over-steer or under-steer. Overall the new AI system is an improvement from previous attempts at a competitive AI, but there is still work that needs to be done.

Damage Model

While this isn’t surprising for longtime veterans of the series, the story sort of remains the same here. While the car models look stunning, the damage model is lacking — and that’s being kind. I specifically tested this out with full damage on and rammed other vehicles in excess of 150 mph. While my vehicle’s handling was impacted after these collisions, the visible damage was displayed in simple scratches, paint scuffs, and particles.

Even at its worst, the damage model creates a minimal crumpled-like look at the point of impact. But using the word minimum here is probably still being too generous. I know the history, and I understand the developer’s approach, but it doesn’t mean I have to appreciate it. For a game that is as aesthetically beautiful as Gran Turismo 7, it is a stinging disappointment to see such a lack of real car damage after scenarios where the collision should be catastrophic to both the car’s handling and its exterior appearance.

Bottom Line

Racing fans have waited a long time for the arrival of Gran Turismo 7, and I believe the wait was worth it. No matter what aspect of racing you hold dearest to your heart, GT7 has you covered. From stunning environments and car models to a great campaign mode, Polyphony has delivered a title that caters to true car lovers. Some will define GT7 as a racing game, and some will refer to it as driving simulator, but for me, GT7 is simply an experience I don’t think can be matched anytime soon on consoles.

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