Is it a real driving simulator?
Gran Turismo 7 appears to give much the same experience that the original game did it back in 1997: an expressively clean visual, a concentration on authentic handling, and impossibly shiny automobiles that would put any carwash to shame. There have been some minor changes under the hood, as expected, and one major change that will likely divide enthusiasts, but this 25-year-old powertrain is still very much alive and well.
Polyphony Digital’s scaling of Gran Turismo 7 across three different PlayStation consoles, each with a very different performance profile, is absolutely fascinating – not least because the developer has also provided us with the method to easily generate a vast array of comparison assets to pore over, laying the distinctions bare in a remarkable way.
The much-anticipated car-collecting campaign mode returned after a brief vacation in Gran Turismo Sport, and it will command the majority of the attention. But, in a move that is sure to irritate longtime fans, it’s a little different this time. Instead of the more free – form vehicle-purchasing exploration found in previous editions, your path through the early half of the game is strictly controlled and punctuated with informative mini-lectures on major or enduring parts of car culture. Kazunori Yamauchi, the series’ creator, clearly sees the conservation of this culture as a solemn duty in a changing automotive scene, which is clearly reflected in the delightful if little stuffy presentation of these history lessons.
There isn’t enough emphasis on how games behave, yet Gran Turismo 7 kills it. It’s an absolute joy to drive, with fluid, ultra-solid driving mechanics that recreate every aspect of the car’s contact with the track surface. On PS5, the game runs at 60FPS at 4K, and I haven’t detected any dynamic resolution scaling to keep the frame rate. It does, however, sometimes hitch when things are extremely busy, going jagged rather than slow. It’s also worth noting that I experienced one frozen crash and two instances where an incident on the track caused the game to suddenly lock up, operating at a low frame rate and at a decreased pace. Restarting the race fixed it, although it was unusual. Fortunately, that was the only issue in 30 hours of gameplay, so I’m delighted to say this game is an utter enjoyment 99.9% of the time.
Rather of the classic binary of rainy and dry races, some tracks might alter throughout the session. If it’s moist but not raining, a distinct drying line may form as cars displace standing water, but races often start wet and get even wetter, delivering less grip until the asphalt becomes entirely saturated. Arriving at an event with no clue of the conditions to expect but being able to precisely read the road in front of you adds to the novelty of the already plentiful variety of cars and circuits available. However, neither of the two British courses, Brands Hatch nor Goodwood, allow for wet weather, which brings up the question: has Yamauchi ever been to UK?
On the eve of the series’ 25th anniversary, Gran Turismo 7 is much more than a celebration of automobiles; it’s also a celebration of itself in some ways. This edition is a spectacular podium performance from creator Polyphony Digital, combining the original Gran Turismo’s trendsetting concept with GT Sport’s stern but extremely successful concentration on competitive online racing. It’s the finest the franchise has been since its dominating PlayStation 2 heyday, with beautiful graphics, a wonderful driving feel, and a plethora of racing possibilities. It does, however, have some big flaws, such as how it continues to hobble its career mode races with horribly inaccurate rolling starts, its car selection is no longer as extensive as the competitors, and its always-online single-player option.