Gran Turismo 7 review for PS5, PS4

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4
Publisher: PlayStation Studios
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Sony and Polyphony Digital were not kidding even a little bit when they (more or less) proclaimed that the return of Gran Turismo would be a grand celebration of car culture. Now nearly 25 years since the groundbreaking launch of the ?Real Driving Simulator? on the original PlayStation and almost 9 years(!) since the last numbered installment on the PS3, the release of Gran Turismo 7 for the PS5 and PS4 feels like it has come full circle (pun kinda intended).

Nearly every proper Gran Turismo release (other than Gran Turismo Sport perhaps), has been a love letter to the motor vehicle whether they be classic, modern, exotic, woefully underpowered or ridiculously superpowered. It?s not just the love of the cars themselves, but also the experience of driving them — as opposed to simply ?racing?. Gran Turismo 7 just positively oozes appreciation for driving, for cars, for the notable designers and manufacturers, and for the storied history of motor vehicles across the globe. The lengthy and dramatic intro movie sets the tone for the game and nearly every facet and feature of Gran Turismo 7 is held to the same standard. Gran Turismo is not just a ?racing game? and this latest installment goes out of the way to prove it.

Gran Turismo 7 really feels like the culmination of everything that Polyphony Digital has been working towards over the past 25 years. The release of Gran Turismo Sport in 2017 for the PS4 was a nice teaser, though it was a bit undercooked (at launch) and more focused on online and community than what the developer has been known for. GT7 on the other hand pulls a complete 180 and goes even deeper into everything that fans loved (and maybe disliked) about the previous games in the franchise, and more.

Gran Turismo 7 at its core is a ?CaRPG? where the end goal is to collect the 400+ available cars all the while providing gamers with a better appreciation for the history of the industry. The game introduces a whole new campaign system known as the Gran Turismo Caf? which takes players through guided, mostly bite-sized challenges and activities which ties all of the features, modes and gameplay elements neatly together. Players can just jump into arcade style races from the first minute (the unique ?Music Rally? mode is a requirement to even start the game), go online in Vs. and Sport modes, or start earning credits and purchasing/tuning new or used cars.

The very chill Gran Turismo Caf? combines all of that into a well-paced experience which starts out easy enough, though builds in difficulty and complexity as players move through the ?Menu Pages? — as the challenges are called. Many of the pages require collecting a trio of cars from a certain manufacturer, era, vehicle model or region (among other requirements) by racing in various World Circuit races and finishing in at least 3rd place. Those cars are then added to your garage to keep which increases your ?Collector Level? rank, and also potentially earns you a specific reward such as a roulette ticket or the unlocking of a track/mode, among others. There are more than a few other tasks to take part in such as turning a vehicle or taking photos and also some obstacles including earning a specific License type or purchasing a more capable vehicle to take part in a race series. There?s just an enormous amount of content in Gran Turismo 7 and even at 30+ hours there’s no light at the end of the tunnel; And that?s not scratching the surface of the online modes or social functionality, or achieving a gold trophy for every license test or mission challenge race (which I’m guilty of).

There are of course a selection of fans who will pick up Gran Turismo 7 for the impeccable visuals, especially on the PS5. Even with an absolutely rock solid framerate, sublimely detailed cars and interiors, near-perfect renditions of a number of real-life locations and some of the most realistic lighting ever — there will still undoubtedly be a few players who consider it to be a bit boring at times. Newsflash, real life is sometimes drab and boring looking; there?s not always a gorgeous sunset, colorful foliage, sparkling waterfalls or interesting trackside set pieces to gawk at. There are definitely race sessions when the conditions are just right and the game is jaw droppingly gorgeous and other times where it?s merely ?realistic?. The dynamic time of day and weather effects are top notch and can land on both ends of the spectrum, from the sun shimmering across the pavement during golden hour, to pounding rainstorm during a dreary overcast day — or sometimes a little of everything during one long race. One thing is for sure the gorgeous cars are rendered, inside and out, with an insane amount of detail. The default first person point of view inside the vehicles is worth sticking with if just for how great they look. The various courses from fictional locations such as the classic Trial Mountain or Deep Forest tracks, to the real-life N?rburgring Nordschleife or Daytona are the best they have ever looked. So to summarize, Gran Turismo 7 favors realism over flash in the visuals department, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In terms of gameplay it?s all about the physics in Gran Turismo 7. With greater power comes presumably a greater physics model and GT7 certainly doesn?t disappoint. The DualSense controller?s haptic feedback and adaptive trigger effects are put to excellent use throughout and definitely does set it apart from previous installments. Racing on wet pavement or a gravel covered dirt surface feels different than mirror-smooth asphalt and you can tell immediately from the controller feedback as well as the changing tension of the accelerator or brake triggers. The vehicles available in Gran Turismo 7 are quite diverse so a stock VW Van should and does feel and drive dramatically different than a high-powered supercar concept. Nearly every aspect of the vehicles earned or purchased can be tweaked and upgraded in some way, though it?s not typically necessary for players that don?t care for the tuning aspect. The Gran Turismo Caf? mode does touch on the feature as an introduction at the very least, but don’t let that potentially scare you away.

Weirdly the one thing I was slightly disappointed with in Gran Turismo 7 was the racing music selection. In theory the soundtrack is really good and what?s included in the Music Rally mode is a lot of fun, but the rest of the time it?s just not that memorable. For example I still to this day associate 99 Red Balloons with Gran Turismo 3 and there?s nothing quite like that in GT7. I do absolutely love the smooth jazzy menu music though, so I guess it nearly balances out? On the other hand the sound quality and 3D audio, from roaring engines to screeching tires is amazing with the right setup, and the subtle DualSense-emitted sounds also adds to the overall experience.

Anyway, Gran Turismo fans should know what they are getting into with each and every new release, and Gran Turismo 7 is overall the very best in the franchise yet. The sheer amount of content and modes will keep casual players, long time GT fans and car enthusiasts busy for a very long while, and the online and social features should continue to keep the community alive and racing for years to come.

Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Gran Turismo 7 PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A