As soon as you hear the first piano note you know you’re about to watch the introduction video to yet another very delayed Gran Turismo game. With Kazunori Yamauchi still at the helm, the presentation is pure class as you see every picture perfect car drive by showing off the beautiful lighting effects. Polyphony Digital have become masters when it comes to showing cars off, but have they focused on what needed the most attention – the game itself?
Let me get right to the point. Gran Turismo Sport isn’t the Gran Turismo 7 you might want, it’s also not a Prologue, instead it’s a hybrid between the two. On the surface of the menu, which is much cleaner and less clumsy to use, it’ll have you believe that you can jump into a traditional campaign mode. In it, you’ll find the long-established Driving School where you get taught the ins and outs of driving a car. It’s a great place for aspiring racers to get the hang of things and, now that there are leaderboards attached to each and every challenge, you can challenge your friends for the best time. Below that you’ll find the Circuit Experience that basically asks you to perfect any one track. Then, lastly, you’ll see something called Mission Challenge.
You might want to consider a new career choice
It takes a while for it to sink in, but Mission Challenge is in essence the ‘campaign’. Remember Sunday and Club Cup tournaments that would eat away at all your hours? This replaces that structure, it’s just that it’s… a little bare. There are eight stages with eight challenges in each (that’s 64 events in total) whereby you’re tasked with knocking over cones, pushing the limits in a hot lap battle, overtaking cars, top speed challenges and a few genuine races. Earning a gold medal in each event won’t be something anyone can do overnight, but if a bronze is good enough to move on it’s not going to last you a very long time. Where it does work is that this structure has cars showering down on you to help you fill up that very empty garage. It’s also the perfect place to start to build up your various levels.
Arcade is where you’ll have a lot of fun, as you’ll find all the exciting modes here.
Gran Turismo Sport has put a focus on four pillars, with each providing you with various rewards. After each race you are rewarded with prize money to buy cars, but you’ll also get mileage, distance and experience points. Visiting the Mileage Exchange grants you the opportunity to claim rewards, such as special cars you can’t win or buy anywhere else. You can also buy wheels, decals, helmets, profile poses and special colours for use in any custom livery you would like to design for your favourite ride. Distance points allows GT Sport to track your daily distance you’ve driven. Drive far enough and you’ll get a free daily car. You see? Lots a free stuff! This brings me to Experience Points that have a direct impact on Arcade mode.
Driving is for everyone… online
Arcade is where you’ll have a lot of fun, as you’ll find all the exciting modes here. Single Race, Time Trial, Drift Trial, Custom Race, 2P Split Screen and VR Tour can all be found under this tab. The snag is that you will only have access to three tracks when you fire the game up for the first time. To get access to more tracks you have to level up. If you want all the tracks on offer you need to get yourself to level 20, which will take you about 15-20 hours to achieve. It’s at this intersection that I have to point out the big white elephant in the room. You can’t progress in GT Sport, at all, if you’re offline. Wait, that’s a lie. You can, but once you shut your game down all your progress will be lost as the progress is tied to the online server. It’s like playing a PS1 game without access to a memory card. This could perhaps be to stop people cheating (who knows?), but it’s a reality. I can’t stress this enough – if you do not have an online connection at home GT Sport, at the time of writing, is nothing more than a demo for you. Enough about that, let’s talk about the actual racing.
Gran Turismo Sport has a very similar feel to any Gran Turismo before it. Cars still handle in that unique Gran Turismo style. It’s not quite a simulator, but it’s also not an arcade game. If you’re a fan of how previous GT games played you’ll find much to love, if not it’s not for you. I’m glad to say that there have been massive improvements in the sound department. No longer does it sound like you have cardboard boxes knocking into each other and the car engines finally sound much better. It’s still not up there with the likes of something like Project Cars 2, but it’s a huge improvement nonetheless. The dreadful standard and premium car models have been dropped too. Each and every car in the game comes with a detailed interior for you to drool over when you’re geeking out in photo mode or scapes. Unfortunately, some lessons have still not been learnt.
GT Sport was my first foray into the world of VR racing. I walked away from the experience absolutely gobsmacked.
The AI is still as robotic as ever. After years of the drivatar system in the Forza series it’s become a bit of an embarrassment that Gran Turismo just can’t shake that stigma. In about 20 hours of play I had an AI make a mistake twice, which actually caught me by surprise both times and had me making a mistake in return. The damage model is still so prehistoric. Your car will come out with scratches and botched bumpers, but don’t expect anything to go flying off your car. Likewise the weather is still quite stagnant. There’s nothing dynamic about it, though you can at least choose the time of the day you’d like to race in, but you still won’t see a wet surface or rain falling. Track selection is also questionable. There are many real world tracks, which are great, but there are so many racers with real world track locations. What sets the Gran Turismo series apart from other games are fictional tracks such as Deep Forest and Trial Mountain. Why is it excluded? Hopefully we’ll see it return as DLC at some point. As much as it’s done wrong, there’s lots to love about GT Sport.
All cars can still be upgraded and tuned to suit your driving style. Yes, there’s a little catch. You can’t use your prize money to upgrade your power and weight reduction levels. Instead it’s Mileage Points that functions as the currency to upgrade those particular bits. Mileage Points takes a long time to build up, so be careful when selecting the car you’d like to upgrade. Gear ratio, suspension and everything else in-between can be adjusted at no cost.
The time of my life
The Thrustmaster T150 is an obvious improvement over using a controller, but I do feel that the force feedback is nowhere near as good as it should be. Annoyingly the levels can’t be customised, though you can map each button exactly where you want it to be. Where it does come into its own is on the rally circuits. The rally tracks feel brilliant when using a steering wheel. You can feel as your car slides out and you counter steer to drift around a bend. The steering wheel gives you the feedback of each and every stone your wheels hits and is by far the best way to experience that part of the game. However…
(Please note: The steering wheel score and information does not affect the final score, as most players will use a Dualshock controller when playing the game).
GT Sport was my first foray into the world of VR racing. I walked away from the experience absolutely gobsmacked. I know that most people can’t afford this setup, but if you by chance own a steering wheel and a PSVR headset, and you’re fan of motorsport in general, I highly recommended GT Sport purely for this experience alone. This is exactly what PSVR was made for. The immersion of each race is just spectacular. I felt my stomach drop as I hit the hairpin dip at the Autodrome Lago Maggiore circuit, thereafter hitting my brake point too late and smashing into the wall. It’s unnerving, but at the same time exciting. The sense and awareness of your competitor is unequalled as you’re always checking your mirrors as you would when driving a real car, it’s just that it’s a little more frantic and fast-paced. It’s also impressive that each and every car has been modelled for you to see the dashboard in that virtual space as if you’re there. Sadly the AI difficulty can’t be set and by default beating it is a walk in the park. You’re also only racing one AI opponent, though when you’re in the driver’s seat one is enough to deal with.
No more elbow grease required
Squash your fears of what you might have seen earlier this year in the GT Sport beta, this game looks phenomenal in 4K and HDR. The flat trees and backdrops that plagued earlier code are gone. You can see the detailed stitching on the steering wheel and every stone in the tarmac popping out at 60FPS. The backdrops have this immense feeling of space due to the improved details. Something that is a bit of a modern marvel is the fact that replays are also displayed at 60FPS. I saved many more replays than I should have, but it’s just so damn amazing. The crew at Polyphony Digital have an eye for replay perfection, and it’s still evident today.
Much of your time, once you’re done with what the single player component has to offer, will be spent in Sport. Sport is the online arena where you’ll play against other random players around the world. You can’t just merely jump in. Oh no, you have to watch a video detailing racing etiquette that all players must adhere to. It’s their efforts in stopping players from being dicks online. Players set a qualifying lap and then enter a race once the counter hits zero. It’s simple and it works. Yes, you can race your friends in private lobbies too.
Under the lack of single player content, there are other interesting details that’ll grab your interest. In brand central, where you buy your new cars, you have access to numerous videos detailing models of your favourite car manufacturer. Popular brands like Ferrari, Porsche and Jaguar have museum timelines to follow the history from birth through to the current day. If you’re optimistic enough you can even apply for a Driver Contract with a manufacturer to borrow a car, dodging those expensive costs for a new car. There are lots of little details that mostly go unnoticed, thanks to the obvious flaws standing out like a sore thumb.
Gran Turismo Sport isn’t perfect. The series has taken a few steps forward in some regard and a few back in others. Die-hard Gran Turismo fans will kiss and make up for those shortcomings, but those who have since wiped their hands clean of the series won’t find anything here to return to, yet.