Start your engines, Sony’s latest entry in the racing series earns pole position.
Gran Turismo 7 has been a long time coming. Just like the franchise’s previous releases, the game experienced numerous delays (helped no doubt by the pandemic), but thankfully there have been so many awesome games releases over the past couple of years, it gave this gamer at least, a chance to catch up.
And it’s been worth the wait.
If you’ve played Gran Turismo before, you’ll know broadly what to expect, but the improvements made to the gameplay, menus, race experience, car selection, multiplayer, and of course graphics, mean this is the best version of the game to date. In short, I love it. And this is coming from someone who wouldn’t call themselves a ‘car fan’ or ‘racing enthusiast’.
Let’s the get the obvious stuff out the way – Gran Turismo 7 looks stunning. The graphics are truly next-gen and something tells me there will be future software updates to add further improvements, given the PS5 console is still so early in it’s lifecycle.
There are two graphic modes – performance mode and frame rate mode. As with most PS5 games, my preference has been frame rate model every time. You still get to experience occasional enhanced ray tracing effects, but the addition of silky smooth gameplay for a racing game is just too good to disable. Pair your PS5 with a 4K TV and you’ll soon be hooked on watching replays of your souped-up DeLorean burning around the track.
Having not played a Gran Turismo game in a few years, and far from being a racing sim pro, it’s nice to see how gently GT7 eases you in the gameplay with a refreshing set of tutorials that gradually lead you through the game’s various features and sections. It’s perfectly paced, set in a café where the owner will introduce you to the different car and engine types through his collection of ‘café menus’.
The menus act as short challenges which allow you to learn about handling your car and how to negotiate the different types of tracks and weather you’ll come across. Occasionally visitors will turn up at the GT7 café and offer you further insights into the types of cars you’ve unlocked and their world-famous manufacturers.
The café menu format also introduces you to other features such as the Garage, Workshop and Tuning. Once you’ve played through the first few menus in the game, you’ll know how to enter races, purchase cars, tune them and give them a new coat of paint. Everything is explained clearly and in such a way that newcomers to the series will find it welcoming, whilst veterans will be able to fly through the various challenges put in front of them.
In addition to the café, the game retains its driving licence mode – a set of specific driving challenges which once completed grant you licences to enter races with the higher performing cars.
The actual racing is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Gran Turismo 7 offers numerous game settings for you to tweak to suit your driving style. Want a more arcade-type racer or just getting started with racing games? Turn on settings such as brake assistance, steering assistance and automatic transmission. Prefer the full racing simulator style? You can disable all the help, leaving it down to you, your car and your driving skills to navigate the track. Or if you fancy a blend of the two then that’s available too.
I found myself starting with all the assistance modes on and then gradually disabling them as I became more confident (or brave). You’ll soon find your perfect set up.
Racing in GT7 is an absolute delight. Whilst the early races may feel a bit tame for more experienced drivers, things soon speed up as you unlock the faster categories. Engines sound fantastic and there’s far more atmosphere around the tracks then ever before. The game does a great job of immersing you in the racing world.
Playing with a controller is fun, but switch to a decent steering wheel and chair, and you see why hardcore racing sim fans take such pride in their setups – it adds a further level of immersion, especially when paired with a customised soundtrack (see below).
The sound design, as with previous games, is spot on – you’ll hear the difference in all the engines, along with changes that occur once you start tuning your car in the garage.
The soundtrack will have its fans no doubt but personally, I play with it switched off. There just aren’t enough favourite songs to make me want to keep it on all the time. Instead, I boot up my own Gran Turismo 7 playlist created on Spotify and play that through the PS5, whilst keeping the game’s sound effects on – hey presto – a customised music soundtrack for the game full of all my favourite driving songs. You’ll find it here on Spotify.
What I’ve enjoyed so much about this game, is the way you’re free to play it however you choose. There’s a fantastic mix of Sunday driving modes and petrol fume-filled aggressive races. How much you play of each is totally up to you and what you’re in the mood for.
The same can be said for multiplayer mode – you’ll find full league-based championships to enter or more casual races for those that just want to experience racing other humans.
There’s plenty of content to dig into and hundreds of cars to unlock as you work to complete your collection. Micro-transactions are there for those that want to fast-track their way to a full suite of cars, but for the rest of us, you’ll soon unlock what you need just by racing around the tracks.
Gran Turismo 7 remains one of the best releases for the PlayStation 5 so far and an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in racing games.