Finally, after four years of waiting, the next installment in the revered Gran Turismo series of racing games was launched for PS4 owners in October 2017. The series has been around since 1997 on the Sony PlayStation consoles. Known for its focus on realistic driving simulation, and hundreds of cars and tracks, the GT series is a firm favorite of millions of racing fans. But how does the newest entry make its mark in the evolution of the series? Read on to find more.
Right from the start, it is clear that Gran Turismo Sport represents a significant shift away from the other games in the series, including its predecessor, Gran Turismo 6. If the old game had a central focus on single-player gameplay with over 800 cars and nearly 80 tracks available, things are much different in GT Sport. The creators of the game, Polyphony Digital, has focused mainly on the online multiplayer experience. There is even a licensed tie in with the FIA, the international governing body of racing. The best online players even have a chance of getting a real-world FIA racing license.
Graphics and Visuals
Gran Turismo series has always had some gorgeous looking visuals, be it the environment or the cars. In that respect, Gran Turismo Sport is not a major letdown at all. Even in basic 1080p resolution, the game does manage to look very handsome indeed. And in 4K resolution, players can get a grasp of the attention to detail that has gone into the design. Veterans of the series will easily recognize that unique “GT style.” The interiors have received a visual boost, which was not there in GT6. The lack of dynamic weather effects is a bit of a letdown. And the environments do feel lacking in detail when compared to some of the other racing games on PS4.
Sound and Audio
The sound, on the other hand, has received a total and much-needed overhaul. The lack of sound quality had always been a big issue on past GT titles. They seem to have dealt with that one decisively here. This game has one of the most realistic and detailed sound effects of any racing game out there. Every shift of gear, braking, and acceleration comes with a corresponding change in the sound of the engine and the mechanicals in the car. Things don’t get much better than this.
The Gran Turismo series has never been about graphics or other extra details and features. The core attraction of the series has always been its true to life gameplay and handling of cars. And that core characteristic of the game has been retained faithfully in Gran Turismo Sport. Every car feels unique and different, and the handling is better than any other Gran Turismo game. An arcade game this is most definitely not. But it is still highly accessible, and roaring fun whether played with a controller or a wheel. Realism does get prioritized, but not at the cost of having fun behind the wheel, and that is good.
Cars, Locations, And Tracks
This is where the game falters, and by a significant margin. The other Gran Turismo titles were always about single player offline experience, with hundreds of car models to unlock, tweak and customize, and numerous different driving modes to play with. But in comparison to GT 6, Gran Turismo Sport feels completely anemic. The list of cars is severely curtailed, with only 170 models on offer, from 36 manufacturers. The track locations have also halved in number, with under 20 locations and 40 tracks. Some future DLC packs can be expected though. But many iconic real-life locations are missing, like the Laguna Seca for instance. But the game still has famous venues like Suzuka, Interlagos, Bathhurst and Brands Hatch, along with new challenging fictional locations and tracks.
Offline and Singleplayer
Offline game modes are severely limited, with just arcade mode available without an internet connection. Combine that with the 17 locations, and gamers can expect to be done with the single player aspect of the game in under a month. There is no Career mode, unlike in past GT titles. Instead, there is a Campaign, with a Driving School, Mission Challenges, and Circuit Experience. Progress from these are saved on Sony online servers, so players will need regular internet connectivity to gain any meaningful gameplay experience. There is a heavy emphasis on controlled and realistic driving, and the game modes are mainly a way for drivers to learn how to control the cars accurately, gain racing experience, and learn the tracks for a better online performance.
Online Multiplayer Experience
This forms the chunk of the Gran Turismo Sport experience. They have placed a heavy emphasis on the electronic sports aspect of the game, with officially sanctioned races occurring on a daily basis. Players will be able to find official events every 20 minutes. This game has a couple of FIA licensed racing series competitions, and a championship hosted by the designers Polyphony. Online races revolve heavily around the concept of “sportsmanship.” This means that rash or dangerous driving will be heavily penalized, just like in real life. Players will have to keep their driving records clean to improve their ratings and scores, and eligibility to higher tournaments and events.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
For PS4 owners looking for a continuation of the singleplayer experience delivered by past titles like Gran Turismo 6, the latest Gran Turismo Sport will come as a real shocker. The lack of single-player content, like cars, locations, and events, are definite weaknesses. Some aspects of graphics could also do with improvements. But the core gameplay remains pure, and this is one the best handling GT games ever. Online multiplayer is where Polyphonics has put their money, and for driving game enthusiasts looking to hone their skills against other PlayStation Network players, this is probably a must-have title.