Gran Turismo 7 Review
There are moments when, playing any game, aspects of it come together that absolutely blow you away. I can tell you precisely when, in Gran Turismo 7, this occurred for me. It was several minutes into the challenge ‘24 Minutes of Le Mans.’ This is a hyper accelerated reproduction of the real life twenty-four hour race which condenses a full day-night-day cycle into twenty-four intense minutes. The sun was setting as the race transitioned from mid-afternoon sunshine to the halogen-illuminated night. Heading through the Porsche Curves I noticed that rain was incoming and I was due a pit-stop at the end of the lap. I made the call to switch to intermediate tyres hoping that I’d timed it right and the time lost pitting relatively early would pay itself back in positions gained against those caught out on slicks.
Initially it seemed my gamble had paid off as I gained a few places but, as night transitioned back into a blue, hazy morning, I realised there was already a dry line and I was now at a huge disadvantage. I frantically pit and broke out the quickest set of tyres I had but in my eagerness to get going and claw back time I stepped, ever so slightly, off the dry-line and that was it, my tyres lost all grip and I paid a visit to the nearest barrier. As I clambered back on track and stumbled my way to the finish line well down the order I smiled. Not because of where I finished, but because of how absorbing and thrilling the race was and just how amazing Gran Turismo 7 looked and felt whilst I did so.
It’s been nine years since we’ve had what fans of the series would call a proper Gran Turismo game. Whilst we had Gran Turismo Sport to fill the gap, that was a game squarely focussed on online racing, forgoing the usual single-player campaign of licence tests, championships and car collecting. Even if you haven’t played a game in the series for a while like myself, much of what you’ll find in Gran Turismo 7’s world will feel very familiar. The world map is split into fourteen points of interest, located in a rather pleasant seaside resort. The focal point of all of this being the GT café that, depending on your point of view, is depressingly devoid of any coffee or cake.
What the GT café does have are menus containing iconic cars and other challenges that act as the centrepiece of the single-player experience. Most of these contain a set of three linked cars, whether it’s a specific model of car like the Ford Mustang, drive type, or cars from a specific region. If you complete each of the three races in these types of menus you are able to win each of the cars identified on that menu. It’s a cheap and easy way to start growing your collection and as you complete each of these car collection menus Luca, the café’s owner, will also share some interesting tidbits about each set you’ve just accumulated. If you’re really into your cars and their history this, alongside Brand Central, will help you lose yourself in the depths of automotive history.
Some may find the constant text chatter from Luca and others intrusive, but for my money Gran Turismo has always been a gaming love letter to cars and motorsport. It’s also not required of you to go hunting through all the manufacturers and learn everything about them but it’s there for those in the community who wish to enjoy Polyphony’s attempt at motoring preservation. Much like the Scapes mode which allows you to place your digital cars in real life locations, it’s a fun, quirky addition, which will speak to some but not to others and can be wholly ignored if what you wish is to do is race and nothing more.
That said, completing the menus is necessary if you wish to unlock all the circuits with some not becoming available until deep into GT café’s menus. There are thirty-nine of these in total and it took me nearly thirty hours to complete alongside taking part in online events as well as trying to get gold badges in those all important licence tests. Some of the time was also spent grinding for credits as the economy of Gran Turismo 7 is pretty harsh. Whilst some of the later races reward you with fifty thousand or more in credits, a set of tyres, which you will need to buy different types of, can cost nearly thirty thousand on their own. Fully kitting out some cars can quickly eat into most winnings so unless you bought the 25th Anniversary edition which comes with over a million credits, the grind is very real and, unfortunately, so are the microtransactions.
It seems not even Gran Turismo 7 can escape the seemingly ever present need for games that don’t require it to have microtransactions bolted on. The disparity between what’s rewarded for winning races and championships and what’s required to purchase some of the legendary cars is a concern. Cars such as the Jaguar XJ13 ‘66 cost twenty-million credits which will take, even for the most dedicated of players, quite some time to grind out. Currently, two million in-game credits in the UK PlayStation store goes for £15.99 which means it would cost you £159 to purchase this one car, which is more than the game itself costs. Madness! Not only that, one could argue this is a pay-to-win scenario where players willing to splash the cash can acquire cars that are out of reach of some players.
Which is a shame as, when on the track, Gran Turismo 7 is rather fun to play, especially with some clever use of the PS5’s DualSense Controller. Those who’ve taken the time to play Astro’s Playroom know that Sony’s controller is a versatile beast but few other games have really made use of it. Gran Turismo 7 however, has put this controller front and centre giving not only the triggers some weight to them but even the vibrations help you feel what your car is up to. When under heavy braking the left trigger will judder, much like your pedal would in an ABS enabled car, and the right trigger loses pressure when your wheels break traction. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even use the gyros and turn your car just by tilting the controller. It’s a little unwieldy if you’re using manual gears but overall it’s pretty responsive and a bit of fun if you’re wanting to change things up.
The level of feel you get really comes into its own when you experience Gran Turismo 7’s weather features. If you’re out on the wrong tyres you can feel the car aquaplaning underneath you and the constant lightness of the right trigger telling you that your tyres just don’t have the grip. Even with wet weather tyres on, cars can feel unwieldy and most other tyres are very tricky when the surface is anything but bone dry. There’s also a tendency of front-engine, rear-wheel drive cars to suffer from severe snap oversteer making slides or minor errors difficult to control and often ending up with you in a barrier. Hopefully future patches will tweak these sorts of issues but right now the window between controlled slide and death by barrier seems very, very thin.
When all is said and done, Gran Turismo 7 is a mostly successful return to what everyone expects of the franchise. Whilst Gran Turismo Sport’s DNA can be found in the online Sport mode those yearning for a true, single-player Gran Turismo experience will feel very much at home. However, the borderline predatory microtransactions coupled with a heavy end-game grind for collectors may leave a sour taste for many. You feel there’s more to come from Polyphony and one hopes a rebalancing of rewards, especially from the higher tier races, lie in Gran Turismo 7’s future. Whilst things are far from perfect in the world of Gran Turismo 7 there’s no better racing game to be had on the PlayStation platform.
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