Experience the complete Real Driving simulator… 25 years in the making.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available for: PS4
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Director: Kazunori Yamauchi
Main Program: Shuichi Takano
Engineering Director: Takahito Tejima, Riso Suzuki
Graphics Lead: Kentaro Suzuki
Reminding me of my childhood playing Gran Turismo 2 and 3, the latest entry in PlayStations 25-year-old driving series is the best it’s been for well over ten years. The cars feel amazing, and it’s an overly gorgeous game with that same addictive loop that hooked GT fans years ago, still being as addictive now.
GT7 does contain a ‘campaign’ of sorts compared to the previous games in the series. Smack bang in the middle of the game’s home menu is the Café where a car enthusiast barista will give you menus containing tasks. Making up the majority of these 39 menus are jobs to collect three different types of vehicles. You can run to the used or new car dealership to buy these if you so wish; otherwise, you’ll be able to win each by placing in the top three of specific races. Compared to past games in the franchise, this does mean you’ll have access to a bigger garage and selection of cars fast than you previously would, which means experimentation and getting the hand of different vehicle types. I can’t say you’ll be as well of for credits, but I’ll come back to those.
When you collect all three models heading back to the Café will net you a random reward and a mini-history lesson on those cars and their manufacturer. But it doesn’t stop there, as history is a central focal point of GT7. Several characters in the Café’ will even tell you more about the car you are driving. Then at each of the dealerships, you can view many videos detailing the cars and manufacturer in greater detail. As the 25th anniversary of the franchise rolls around, the game takes car history and turns it into a showcase for GT7. Even the opening credits sequence, an unskippable ten-minute video, serves as a mini-doco exploring the first automobile and the history of cars since then.
Racing in GT7 feels superb; each car feels unique, and the attention to detail on their design, paint jobs and especially the interiors is stunning. I played the game with DualSense only as I don’t own a racing wheel. Although I know from experience that a wheel can make some of the license gold medals and other challenges slightly easier where you need a little bit of correction available to you that the DualSense thumbsticks don’t offer, that said, playing on DualSense is pretty great. Thanks to the haptic feedback, you’ll feel the slightest rumbles under your fingers as you go over rough terrain, but what impressed me the most is the feel of a gearshift change. The different gearboxes and cars felt unique inside the DualSense, as did going up or down a gear. The sensation truly added to my racing experience, especially as I chose to play GT7 in cockpit view, which I don’t usually do in other racers. But here, the interior design lured me in, while the haptics while in the front seat and the stellar 3D audio design made sure I felt like I was flying 300km/h around Mount Panorama Circuit.
Plenty of accessibility options and three driver AI levels mean that Gran Turismo 7 is the game for beginners. In particular, an auto brake option should help newer players learn how to ease in and out of corners. But this is still a simulation driving experience, and there’s no way to cancel out that element of the game that won’t be for all players. You need to pass drivers tests as you’ve had to in every Gran Turismo game, and often races are spent carefully taking corners and not drifting around like in an action movie. There is a new mode here called ‘Music Rally’ that seems designed with new players in mind as you race around a track to a particular song and attempt to keep the music playing by hitting checkpoints. It’s arcadey, it’s fun, but it also only has a handful of songs and is buried at the top end menu and doesn’t even feel a part of the core GT7 experience.
For some reason, all of the races that the Café send you through all feel like challenges rather than legit races. Each of them has a rolling start that puts you in the last position while the leader is halfway finished with their first lap. If there were a mix of race types, it wouldn’t be an issue, but often these races feel more like challenges to chase the leader rather than racing them. This rolling start system annoyed me the most in the Grand Prix, where my position in the previous race made no difference to where I’d begin the next one.
Not every race will be the same as weather conditions can kick in at any time and turn a sunny day into a wet track, and racing wet sucks. Not that it’s the game’s fault, but I struggled hard to master wet track racing. The rain is beautifully paired with the 3D audio on the PS5, and having headphones on and racing in the cockpit view again made me love the realistic racing on show here even more.
Working your way through the 39 Café menus is great onboarding for new players who may not direct themselves between races or find the fun in simply grinding and unlocking new cars. Either way, that all starts once you’ve finished the Café’s last challenge, the credits roll, and the real GT experience begins — and that’s where things took a big dive into the ground for me. The expensive cars players will want to unlock will take many hours to earn, grinding a race repeatedly with price tags in the $3 million mark for some of the game’s most expensive cars. There’s no end game way to speed up credit-earning, and even the most significant payouts from something like the GT Cup would be around $400k for a 75-85 min event, and that’s with a ‘clean race’ which means you can’t hit any of the nineteen other cars in the race. I’m not even including the hundreds of credits most players will spend upgrading their vehicles on the way to the end game car collectathon. What GT7 does offer you, and is always in your face whenever you spend or earn credits, is the option to buy them using real-works money. $30AUD can net you the highest amount of $2 million credits. Those who wish to grab the most expensive cars in the game quickly would need to spend hundreds of dollars. Comparatively, GT: Sport’s DLC cars cost around $5-8AUD for a singular vehicle unlock. One of the fastest ways I earned a million credits was by getting lucky on two loot-box type prizes the cafe awarded me. But the only way to unlock more of those post the Café is by logging in daily and doing a few races to get a daily reward. GT7 desperately needs daily challenges that reward either credits or the in-game loot boxes to balance this issue.
You may earn big credits by winning races in ‘Sport’ mode, which sees you racing against other players in the world with a similar skill level, but I wouldn’t know as I can’t get close to winning. As much fun as I’ve had doing a couple of these races, it’s evident that winning requires diving into the nitty-gritty car customisation menus and tweaking the legally allowed vehicle(s) to stand a chance of keeping up with your opponents. Sport is an excellent mode for those wanting that realism in their racer with other players, but similar to GT: Sport, this won’t be for everyone.