One of the more accessible and engaging entries in the series, Gran Turismo 7 offers tremendous breadth of features and an excellent driving experience in a very polished package. As a driving experience, GT7 glides along fabulously – it’ll make a virtual petrolhead out of you.
- Accessible and engaging campaign
- Wide range of features and customisation
- Excellent handling with PS5 DualSense controller
- Great visuals and sound
- Rolling starts feel outdated
- A.I drivers not the most competitive
- Some won’t like ‘pay-to-win’ aspect of in-game credits
- Genre:Gran Turismo is a racing simulator.
- Release date:Available from 4 March 2022
- Platforms:PS4 and PS5
Gran Turismo dubs itself the ‘real driving simulator’ but having first appeared on the PS One, its idea of realism has only grown as the technological capability of the console hardware has improved.
Given developer Polyphony Digital’s painstaking sense of detail, the PS5 offers its best chance yet of being a ‘real’ driving simulator.
And celebrating its 25th anniversary, Gran Turismo 7 is one of the finest entries yet in the series’ storied history, celebrating car culture as well as providing a meaty experience on the track. GT7 has also opened up to be very accessible to new gamers, making this car simulation a less daunting prospect for those who aren’t the most excitable of petrolheads.
Gran Turismo 7 hits the PS5 in the wake of the Forza Horizon series’ fun and rowdy atmosphere on the Xbox consoles. Just what does Gran Turismo have to say in the racing genre twenty-five years after it first revved its engine?
Campaign (GT Mode)
- Return to the traditional campaign style
- Streamlined sense of progression
- Accessible introduction to racing and cars
Gran Turismo begins small and weird with Music Rally. It’s a time extension mini-game (or musical joyride as it’s described) where seconds are replaced with music beats, and you go through gates to extend the beats in order to drive as far as possible before the rhythm stops. It’s unexpectedly fun and addictive, reminding me of AudioSurf, and pitches this Gran Turismo as something other than just an all-serious ode to car culture.
But this is Gran Turismo and it is reverential to car culture – there’s a keen eye for history wherever you look. Gran Turismo 7 is as much an education into why people find cars so fascinating as it is a competitive driving experience.
GT Mode returns and takes its time to unfurl everything it has to offer. You start with your garage and the Café, and the latter is where you’ll often be making frequent pit-stops to collect Menu books, which are lists of cars to collect or objectives to complete, ranging from winning French Hot Hatches in various races to completing a track experience event.
In the game’s early knockings, completing these objectives unlocks more tracks and areas to explore. It gives the game a tighter focus, though more experienced racers may feel the game starts with the handbrake on.
The Café could be seen as a very long tutorial into world of Gran Turismo – essentially a series of fetch quests – but as I mentioned, there’s history to be learned. The café owner is happy to regale you about why this car or that series was so important, and that feeds into Gran Turismo 7’s adoration of all things cars. Other characters populate the café, (some genuinely exist), and they are just as enthusiastic to tell you about why your car is so interesting. If you’re not an avid car nut, this game may turn you into one.
I like the speed at which the campaign progresses, the rate at which it doles out races, missions and objectives unlocks one area at time rather than all at once. There’s plenty to see, plenty to do and plenty of miles to rack up, and Gran Turismo 7 offers it all at its own pace. There’s a lot of depth that’ll keep racers occupied for dozens of hours.
It took me around 8 hours to unlock the entire pavilion, with old favourites returning such as the Driving School where you earn licenses through completing tests to the Used Car dealer, Tuning shop, Brand Central (where you can buy cars brand new) and GT Auto, where you can add liveries and change the look of your car by making it wider, adding spoilers, different wheel rims, etc.
For completing objectives you’re awarded a steady stream of credits, cars, tickets and mechanical parts to boost you burgeoning car collection. You also get points that go to your Collectors level that shows your level of investment in curating your car collection. Tickets lead to spins of the roulette that offer the opportunity to earn rewards (cars, mechanical parts, credits), though so far it’s been rare to get a big item.
And given some cars are very expensive (some cost more than 3,000,000 credits), there’s an element of grind to GT7 if you want the most prestigious cars. Or you can buy credits via the PlayStation store – as little £1.99 for 100,000 credits or as much as £15.99 for 2,000,000 – with a pay-to-win sense of progression that will likely rile some who don’t like that approach.
The world of tuning is made eminently less daunting for those unfamiliar with its intricacies. What the parts and what effect they have on performance is all explained in a friendly, accessible way, leaving you to forge the path you want to improve your car’s performance.
Not everything in the tuning shop will improve performance (some parts cap it) and not everything quite has the impact you want, adding some consideration as to whether to tune or buy a better car. And within the larger game, the act of tuning your car acts as a mini game of finding balance between going faster, but maintaining good handling control. GT Auto offers plenty of ways to customise a car’s appearance, and you can even give your car a wash or give the engine a tune up.
Scapes is an area of the pavilion where you can take pictures in places from all over the world. The camera options are surprisingly extensive with focus, shutter and aperture options, as well as various shaders and customisable placement of the car within the frame. It gives you plenty of ways to make your pictures look as nice as possible, and then you can share them with the rest of the GT community.
- AI not the most competitive
- Handling is excellent with DualSense controller
- Rolling starts feel outdated
Gran Turismo 7 is, of course, a driving simulator (and a real one at that) and it gets that aspect of its presentation very right but there are still some old annoyances. The rolling starts to races feels outmoded and has the unwanted effect of creating races where you’re just chasing the leader.
AI drivers can be rather obliging too, essentially waving you by and not all that interested in defending their position. Along with the rolling starts, it has the effect of making races more processional rather than thrilling.
This slightly changes as you get access to faster cars; some AI fight a back a little and overtake, but usually only if you give the opportunity to. There’s some slight rubber banding, too – in a truck race on an oval track, I managed to catch up from last place and overtake the leader, but instead of pulling away from all the other trucks, they were right on my tail for the last two laps. It’ll be interesting how much this changes when the Gran Turismo Sophy AI arrives in a future firmware update.
Nevertheless, car handling is fantastic with the PS5’s DualSense controller in your hand. There’s weight to each car I’ve driven, a difference in the acceleration and braking force required, a sense of grip you understand as soon as the wheels start spinning, which all adds up to certain personality that’s transmitted through the controller.
You can even feel that a car you’re driving is slow, whether in straight line speed or cornering, with oversteer and understeer ably communicated. Two attempts to get a Mustang GT ’15 to take a very long corner resulted in the rear end snapping back and sending me into the gravel trap and it causes you think more about your driving. On Expert levels, GT7 can demand a lot and that’s how it should be.
That haptic feedback from the controller transforms the experience of racing with a pad, and while it’s no Fanatec and Thrustmaster wheel (of which several are supported with the game) the clunk of gear shifts and the sound from the DualSense made it, at least for me, one of the best driving experiences I’ve had with a controller.
GT7 features over 400 cars (424 to be exact), though the vast majority (162) are from Japan. But the variety is still wide, from American muscle cars to hatchbacks and sports cars. And the ability to tune, once you’ve got used to that, means you can take your Mini S Cooper up against cars well above its weight class.
Gran Turismo 7 features around 34 tracks and over 90 variations of real-life and made-up circuits, but for me, something is a little off. It’s not the variety that dissatisfies, but the familiarity of the tracks. Classics such as Laguna Seca, Willow Springs, Monza, Nürburgring, Catalunya, Brands Hatch, Mount Panorama Fuji and Suzuka are all present, but I’ve raced on these tracks many, many times in many, many games. While they’re brilliantly recreated, the thrill of seeing these courses again has dulled over time.
- Terrific visuals on PS5
- Ray-tracing support
- Dynamic weather offers plenty of variables
Visually, the game is beautiful to look whether in motion or still shots. When I first booted up the game, I didn’t think that it was that stunning to look at, even with the PS5’s very useful HDR tuner enabled. But the more I’ve played, the more I’ve been impressed.
There’s the usual high level of detail and respect to car interiors and exteriors, but other aspects catch your eye such as the reflections in the window of the car interior (thanks to ray tracing effects) as well as the sense of speed as the environment flies by.
Unfortunately, ray tracing is not available during races, so you’ll only be able to ogle the advanced lighting effect in modes in the garage, GT Auto, replays and photo mode. This has been done to ensure a smooth performance, although is still nevertheless disappointing.
The weather system is one the best I’ve seen. It’s not quite DriveClub levels of drama, but the dynamic weather produces gorgeous visuals as day turns into night during races, the setting sun turning the sky reddish pink. And it affected my driving as I unconsciously became more conservative at night than I was during the day.
The changes in weather are specific to each region, the meteorological data funnelled into the game claims the weather simulation behaves exactly as it would do in the ‘real world’. It’s an undoubtedly impressive effect.
Wet weather races present a challenge both visually and in terms of handling, sprays of water from the car in front affect visibility, and conditions change – sometimes better, oftentimes worse – and that adds a level of unpredictability, too. The changes in weather don’t just affect the grip levels but engine power and slipstreaming, which would explain why my times would get slower as the tyres lost more temperature. If you find wet weather racing too challenging, exiting the race and coming back usually switches things up.
- Sportsmanship rating to encourage respectful driving
- Meeting Place is a casual area for racing against others
- Standard online lobbies also supported
Ahead of the review embargo lifting, Polyphony set up several sessions for players to race against each other. The ‘standard’ online lobbies weren’t accessible, but the Sport Mode was, and similar to Gran Turismo Sport it offers a more competitive racing experience. There’s also a new ‘Meeting Place’ where racers can join and race through online track days in a more casual experience that doesn’t require a standard online lobby to access it – just show up and drive.
Sport Mode will depend on how it evolves in the coming months and it carries on the Driver Rating and Sportsmanship Rating from GT Sport. The latter features six different ratings (E, D, C, B, A, and S), and you earn points for completing sections of a race without incidents, and you lose points for causing collisions. The emphasis is on driving with respect, and at least you’ll be matched with players who have similar ratings to offer a sense of parity and fairness.
So while there’s an element of etiquette to online races, and in the few races I played, a sense of competitiveness, there can be some slight disorder. One driver used my car as a barrier (on the final corner no less), smashing me into the wall and propelling themselves forward. The game automatically slowed them down – though not enough for me to get back and in front of them. It’ll be interesting to see how this area pans out, and whether racing becomes a more civil experience.
Should you buy it?
You want a terrific driving experience: The handling mechanics in Gran Turismo 7 are terrific, giving each car a personality, and it’s mainly down to the DualSense’s great haptic feedback
You want a more arcade experience: Gran Turismo 7 is probably the most accessible version yet, but if you’re more of a Mario Kart or Forza Horizon player, then perhaps you’d prefer to stick with that.
Gran Turismo 7 loves cars and is for those who love to drive them. But even if you’re not car crazy, GT7 is more accessible and welcoming than previous entries.
The driving is excellent and the DualSense controller is a real star with this game. The career works, from the rate of progression to the excellent music soundtrack. Even with all the reverence for the history of car culture within the game, it still remembers to have fun.
Gran Turismo 7’s visuals are frequently terrific and the weather effects adds to the driving experience, beefing up those simulation credentials. The ‘real driving simulator’? It’s certainly as close as it’s ever been.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Played for 23 hours before review
Played Music Rally, GT Mode and competed in online Sport Mode
Tested on PS5
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The following wheels are supported: Fanatec GT PD Pro, Thrustmaster T-GT, Thrustmaster T30RS, Thrustmaster T150 Force Feedback, Thrustmaster T80 Racing Wheel, Logitech G29/G923 and Fanatic CSL Elite Racing Wheel
Ray tracing is not supported during races, but is available for other game modes.