Gran Turismo 7 Review
It’s been nearly 5 years since GT Sport and one has to wonder what’s next for the Gran Turismo series, especially since it has gradually lost its grip of the pole position to other racers over time.
Fast forward to 2022, and Gran Turismo 7 finally makes its long-awaited return to the track. There’s a palpable excitement ever since it was first announced nearly 2 years ago and many are anxiously waiting to see if Sony’s racing darling can take the chequered flag once again.
Gran Turismo 7 expectedly does that, wrapped in a classy and sophisticated package that’s brimming with confidence and expertise that welcomes racers of all levels.
Come one, come all
“Gran Turismo 7 might not be for everybody.”
This was my first thought as the game loaded on the PS5. Memories of the Gran Turismo’s of old came flooding in, reminding me of those horrific license tests and sliders of car jargon I’ve never even heard of in my life. After just a few minutes in the game, I’m glad to say that I’ve never been so wrong.
From the outside looking in, Gran Turismo 7 might seem intimidating thanks to its “Real Driving Simulator” tagline. While true, this latest installment has measures in place to welcome the most casual of drivers and still satisfy even hardcore racing aficionados.
As someone who falls on the more casual side of things, it was surprising to see how much content I squeezed out of Gran Turismo 7 before things started to toughen up. Players can choose how much assistance the game can give them – from racing lines to traction levels, you can even set when and how long you have to brake for. If all that isn’t enough, the game can even do the braking for you.
The amount of assists really highlights Gran Turismo 7’s aim to capture a wider audience that will not only play the game but will also enjoy while doing so. It’s very easy to forget about the simulation aspect of the game because even across the content that I went through, I can count in one hand the number of times I needed to tweak my car, all while racing competitively and winning a number of gold trophies here and there.
Licenses are also back but not as punishing as one might remember of old Gran Turismo entries. These tests are designed to teach you the intricacies and finer aspects of driving and are required to access some of the later content. Not to worry though because the difficulty spike is gradual, ensuring that players of all skill levels can advance at their own pace. It’s only on the Super License where things get really hairy, but reaching that point simply means that you’ve already armed yourself with enough know-how to tackle various race conditions.
That’s not to say the game is easy at all but it is safe to acknowledge that Gran Turismo 7 allows you to play at your own pace and style, engaging chunks of its content when you want and how you want. The game gives the players a level of choice, and it is all the better for it.
Gran Turismo 7 also offers a dizzying amount of options to tweak in your car. These settings become important for those wanting to squeeze every millisecond from the track and are best utilized by players who want to engage with Gran Turismo 7’s superbly accurate physics. Braking at high speeds feels heavy, attempting a turn without feathering the throttle will cause you to overshoot, and splashing through a puddle wrongly will more often than not result in you spinning off the track.
This is also probably the first racing game where I enjoyed the cockpit point of view more than the others. Apart from the extremely detailed car interiors, the narrow field of vision somewhat forces you to use the right analog stick to look around, and the subtle shakes and bumps of the cockpit really give that extra authentic feeling of driving. Gran Turismo 7 does not assume that all roads are perfectly flat and translates that very well during a race.
Should you need to get away from all of the details, Gran Turismo 7’s Music Rally mode can prove to be a nice but short-lived distraction, offering players a piece of the action while putting select music tracks at the forefront of the experience instead of the engine noises and tire screeches. Its mechanics play similar to a time attack mode where you can extend your time by hitting various checkpoints, allowing you to race further until the end of the track.
The resulting replay is a work of artistic expression, changing camera angles and views to the beat of the music. There’s much to like about this low-stress mode and I wish it had more track offerings than its current list, but there is an indication of more coming soon so that’s something to look out for. There’s no form of progression here as it is completely separate from the actual World Map, but competing with friends on the leaderboards to see who can go the farthest is a nice touch.
Class is in session
Progression in Gran Turismo 7 is mainly measured through GT Cafe, which acts as sort of a single-player campaign that puts you through various missions and objectives that will see you learn about cars, their history, and even converse with real-life designers and personalities behind these cars. GT Cafe is a classy way to celebrate the rich culture of the industry, taking players on a guided tour that will give them a deeper understanding of it all.
GT Cafe lets players complete certain tasks (collect these 3 cars, win this race, etc), and doing so will complete a Menu Book entry for you (basically your quest), rewarding you with a bump to your collector level and overall progression. Gran Turismo 7 ties learning to the progression system, giving players a front seat to a history lesson while unlocking various tracks and modes like multiplayer, scapes (we’ll get to this later), and brand central, making the learning process rewarding.
That said, it’s also easy to see how some players may not enjoy this level of appreciation for cars. Gran Turismo 7 often feels like talking to someone who is a huge car buff, telling you about this obscure tidbit or about why this car was named a certain way. Not everyone will want to listen and would rather get on with the show.
Gran Turismo 7 will have over 400 cars at launch, and the selection is pretty impressive. It doesn’t quite contain as much as GT6 but certainly more than GT Sport, and the selection in the game hits a good balance with some filler and duplicates sprinkled in between. You get your usual Toyota’s and Nissan’s and Ferrari’s on the list, but there are also some lesser-known ones like Lancia and Abarth. There are even some manufacturers that I’ve never heard of, ever! Notably missing is Bentley, but you’ve got a Tesla in there for good measure, though it’s disappointing that only the Model S is included and not the Roadster.
At some point, between all the vehicles you’ll have to purchase and the amount of parts to choose from, grinding for currency is inevitable. Gran Turismo 7 offers microtransactions, so those willing to spend will definitely get to their end setup faster. The call to top up isn’t blatant, but it’s there if you feel the need to do so.
Gran Turismo 7 also offers a very personal touch across all aspects of the game, letting real-life people and personalities talk you through all of its different features and modes. You’ll get real-life designers such as Tom Matano (Mazda Miata / Roadster designer) and even some of the best GT drivers in the world like Daniel Solis and Igor Fraga talking you through some of the courses, giving you advice on how to take on corners. This might seem like a small gesture to some, but it really brings the cultural celebration aspect to the forefront and how Gran Turismo 7 is showing its love to the community that has supported the franchise for all these years.
The real photography simulator
One aspect of Gran Turismo 7 where players will arguably spend the most time on is customizing their prized machines. Tuning your car will require a certain level of know-how, and will immediately be foreign to newcomers that just want to enjoy a racing game. Not many will know the difference between slotted and drilled brake discs, or even what an intercooler or a low-end torque supercharger does to a car, so this is something that not everyone will fully immerse themselves in.
At some point, the game will encourage you to upgrade your car, allowing you to stay competitive in the higher-tiered races. Purchasing parts is simple enough, and since cars are measured by a straightforward number rating (higher is better), players are somewhat forced to upgrade and can treat it as an entry point to the rabbit hole.
Despite that, Gran Turismo 7 goes above and beyond, attaching explanations to almost every part and setting, teaching players who want to take that next step into learning about cars. You’ll learn what a Toe Angle is and how a Toe-In Angle provides more stability in straights, and much more. The game really tries its hardest to impart knowledge to its audience if they wish to learn from it, making the game as approachable as possible.
On the other hand, casual racers like me will want to focus on the other end of the customization spectrum. There are equally as many choices here, with some rather impressive options like real car paint colors (Jaguar’s Imperial Maroon or Mclaren’s Trademark Orange), body kits, racing parts, and a full-blown livery editor.
In particular, the livery editor is much improved, allowing players to splash all manners of decals all over the cars, even letting players import their designs from GT Sport. More than that though, the team at Polyphony has listened to the feedback and is letting players attach decals to windows, among other various UI and changes.
If you’ve played GT Sport, then you’ll be glad to know that Scapes is back and bigger than ever. For first-timers, Scapes is truly a mind-blowing feature that will put your photo mode skills to good use.
Scapes is basically a gallery of impressive background photos around the world that will allow you to take pictures of your prized car with stunning results. The feature just doesn’t let you place your cars in these backgrounds, but also lets you tweak various photography settings like focus and aperture to create the perfect shot. You’ll also be able to add effects like rain for a bit of drama, and with over 2,500 spots spanning from Iceland to Japan, the world is literally your (photoshop) playground and I personally can’t wait to see what images the community can come up with.
I cannot stress enough how awesome this feature is and just from a technical standpoint alone, it’s mind-blowing to figure out how the resulting image and video clips look like the real thing. Scapes (and Scapes Movies) really just takes Gran Turismo 7’s visuals and brings it to a whole new level of realism.
All of these features are tied together by Gran Turismo 7’s visuals, which are some of the best among the recently released racing titles. Cars are nearly 1:1 representations of their real-life counterparts, and look visually dazzling at any angle. Even on the track and considering weather conditions along with a day and night cycle, the game is a photorealistic treat.
I’m expecting some nitpicks here and there but you’ll hardly notice some of the minor graphical missteps when driving at 100 miles per hour. You’ll even see the audience move up and down the bleachers and race marshals wave flags on the side if you look close enough. It feels like Polyphony is smartly choosing to tone down certain aspects of the visual experience as a compromise to give a higher level of detail where it matters the most.
As a racer though, Gran Turismo 7 does exceedingly well, with tight and responsive controls that come alive thanks to the DualSense Controller. Its haptic feedback implementation is a thing of beauty, which gives a notable shake when changing gears and a slight jiggle throughout the race. The adaptive triggers are also well utilized but not overdone, and you can feel varied resistance levels during braking and while driving through the different surfaces. I find feathering the throttle easier with the adaptive triggers, but mileage may vary. We did not get to test this with a racing wheel setup, so we will refrain from commenting on that.
3D audio (and overall audio, in general) is also worth celebrating, giving players a very good sense of direction for where things are coming from. In particular, switching camera angles will slightly tweak the sound stage, making the sound a bit more contained while in the cockpit as compared to outside, adding to my earlier comment about enjoying the first-person view more over the others. Driving a Tesla, for example, will not have a pronounced engine noise compared to driving a Supra, so small details like these are much appreciated.
Loading times are almost non-existent in the PS5 version, switching from menus to the track in a matter of mere seconds. As far as both Ray tracing and Frame modes go, there’s hardly a noticeable difference in performance between the two, as far as I could tell at least. So unless you have an actual tool to detect frame dips, choosing Ray tracing mode offers an equally impressive experience. No testing on the PS4 was done so we can’t compare both Gran Turismo 7 versions for loading time discrepancies, or any other metric for that matter.
Multiplayer lobbies and GT Sport also make an appearance, ensuring an almost endless amount of content playing online with other players. The experience I had playing head to head with our good friend from Indonesia (Jagatplay) offered very little in terms of latency problems and was a very smooth ride from start to finish. Of course, this may change once the servers go live worldwide, so we’re cautiously optimistic.
There’s been no indication that Gran Turismo 7 would support the next-gen PS VR2 but I would think that this is probably in the cards for Sony at some point, considering how well it was implemented and received during the previous titles.
Overall, Gran Turismo 7 feels like a very solid and satisfying entry in the series. A game that knows what its audience wants but at the same time caters to newcomers that are dying for a taste of the fast lane. Hardcore car nuts will find much to like and will surely rejoice at the much-awaited return of the franchise.
What We Liked:
- Sense of speed is well-captured
- Staggering attention to detail
- Scapes feature is mind-blowing
- Responsive and tight controls
- Superb audio design
- Multiplayer offers a great experience
What We Didn’t Like:
- Not many will appreciate the history lessons and true-to-life tidbits
- License tests will still block later content
- Online only, even in single-player
- Players will experience a currency grind at some point
- There are microtransactions in the game
Verdict: Buy it!
Gran Turismo 7 is more than just a racing game, it is a celebration of the automotive industry, blending superb gameplay and stunning views while showcasing the rich history of the scene. You can tell that Gran Turismo 7 was created by a team that has a deep passion and love for cars and it shows in every aspect of the game.
Newcomers are more than welcome to hop for a ride across its beginner-friendly settings and can proceed through a sizeable chunk of content even without engaging the incredibly detailed sim-related customization options. Gran Turismo 7 offers a wide range of features for both newbies and veterans, making it arguably one of the most accessible and approachable entries in the series.
More than the photo-realistic graphics, Gran Turismo 7 successfully translates the speed and adrenaline of driving these super-fast cars. Paired with fantastic DualSense haptic feedback and great use of 3D audio, Gran Turismo 7 hits a good balance between quality and quantity that both its previous entries in GT6 and GT Sport have mostly failed to do.
All things considered, Gran Turismo 7 is a graphically stunning return to form that’s certainly fitting of a podium finish.
*Gran Turismo 7 was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a review code provided by the publishers.