We have been waiting for GT7 for about 8 years. But, but, but what about Sport, you may ask. Yeah, what about it? It is not Gran Turismo as far as I'm concerned, it is a game made specifically for e-sports. And as such I would not want to poke it with a stick.
So eight years is what I'm counting as the wait time for GT7. But was it worth the wait? Well, after playing around with the game in the week since its release I think I have a fairly good grasp on the situation and will endeavour to answer that question.
The short version: Yes, but as with everything it's not as simple as that. Not everything is hunky dory in GT land.
My first gripe is not strictly related to the game, but I must mention it. I could not get a hold of a PS5 until the release of the game, just as I predicted. Which prediction of course raised a lot of eyebrows, but here we are. So unfortunately this pre-review is based on the PS4 Pro experience.
Contrary to my usual modus operandi let's start with the good things I've experienced.
The installation procedure is as simple as it gets. Insert disc 1, installation starts automatically. It took roughly 1 hour, which is a lot, but at least it gave me ample time to set up my budget sim racing rig. Which consists of a GT Lite Racing Seat (which might warrant it's own separate review) and a Logitech G923, worthy of a frustrated rant, which I'll not go into here. As far as I can tell the second disc of the game is only used as a physical DRM token, nothing else.
So after completing the initial installation, the game forces you to play "musical rally" which contrary to it's name has nothing to do with rallying. It's a time trial mode where you extend your time by passing checkpoints. It's a weird cross between audiosurf and racing, I don't think many people will return to it after this initial encounter, I'm certainly not interested, but you can drop a comment if you are.
I've heard horror stories from people who said that this secondary initilaziation of the game took them another hour, but for me after 10 minutes it said it is ready to continue.
Of course the GT experience is still here, it feels great to get back to it. The game is as much a piece of educational booklet as it is a game. It tries to teach the love of cars and motor racing to the uneducated masses. So the vibe is there.
Of course the first thing I've experienced was the graphics, which is pretty good, the track details are a little lacking but the cars look great, in the various beauty shots through the menu it is extremely close to photo realistic. When you look at the PS5 and PS4 version comparisons side by side the difference is glaring, but actually playing the game I have no issues with this graphics quality.
The AI seems to be the aspect of the game that got the most upgrades. Especially in "spicy" races they are much more realistic and aware of you. The game marks the difficulty of races with a pepper scale from 1 to 5. At level 4 you have to be on your toes but it's still nowhere near unbeatable. You don't have to be perfect, but large offs and spins do not fit in the equation if you want to win these races.
The mixed bag
There are things that are neither here nor there and will either come down to personal preference or not that glaring to measurably detract from the experience
It is clearly not a brand new engine but an evolution of the previous games, with all its pros and cons. Of course GT was always a gateway simcade game, so I do not expect absolute realism from it, so I can accept elements like bouncing off walls and other cars in this too.
However what I do not find acceptable in this day and age, is the dirt phyisics. Which is exactly the same unrelastic crap as it was since dirt tracks were first included in GT2. Either don't include it or it needs to be done better, because this is farcical. It was barely acceptable in 1999, we had Richard Burns Rally since then, we had Dirt Rally 1, and 2. This will not do.
And the other thing that is not up to par is the handling of the clutch. I said it in 2013 and I repeat it again. Dear Polyphony, a clutch is not a digital switch. This is not how it works. So anyone who is considering getting a racing wheel for this game, know that having a clutch pedal is completely worthless, because it does not add anything to the experience, since it does not function as a real clutch pedal.
The game includes a bunch of random NPCs, some of whom are I think based on GT Sport players. The purpose of these is to hold your hand and offer condenscending remarks at the worst possible moments. To me they add nothing to the experience and they are not even voiced, you have to read their nonsense on screen.
After the initial session I started skipping through their bla bla without consideration. I think non-voiced characters was unacceptable 20 years ago in gaming. Now it is the current year. And as far as I can tell, there is no way to turn off this feature.
Content quality and quantity
There are significantly less cars in the game than in GT6, about a third actually. Only Gran Turismo 1 and 3 had less cars than GT7. Ok, I admit 420 is still a large number and to make up for the lesser number they are all highly detailed. No more basic models carried over from the PS3 era. That said quite a few iconic cars are MIA, or maybe they are just locked away, but later about that.
As far as tracks go, there are some old favorites making a comeback, and a few new ones as well. While there are some that I wish would die in a fiery abyss, because if I never see them again it will be too soon. I'm referring to Tilkefied Fuji Speedway, which is an atrocity, it is an attack on good taste, the destruction of an iconic track, and a horrible experience to race on. It is a worse offence than the re-forestation of Hockenheim. (Hockenheim is not included in the game, but Fuji is)
The engine sound effects still sound syntheized and most cars do not sound anything like they do in the real world. There is the addition of pops and bangs for backfire, but overall I'd say the sound effects are worse than even Beam.NG, which is an indie early access title developed by a handful of people.
And finally the things, that I think are outright detrimental to the experience.
The handholding / locked content
What I always loved about GT mode is that you were free to do as you wish, go where you want and race what you want. Part of the experience was finding the most ideal candidate for upgrades and you could enter relatively high reward races with tuned cars.
Now the game tells you what to do, and to progress you have to follow a very specific and boring path. While 99.9% of races and tracks, upgrades, missions, activities, etc. are hidden from you, and only slowly opened up as you go through the beaten path. There are extremely few optional events that you can enter out of your volition. It is like the designers did not understand what made GT GT.
Instead of being an adult I feel I'm being sheperded around by my parents in a fair. Always telling me where to go, and which rides I can take. Barely letting go of my hand.
Why, for everything that is holy does the game instead of giving you outright rewards has a lootbox mechanic for many of the races and events you complete?
It is of course not called lootboxes, but roulette tickets, like they think the player is stupid and won't notice if they give it a different name.
And this is the most egregious lootbox mechanic I've ever seen. There are always 4 rewards of which you "randomly" get given one. Yeah, up till now I must have opened at least 25 lootboxes and out of these, I shit you not only twice did I not get the worst prize, once I got the second worse, and once the third worse aka second best, albeit completely useless price that is locked to a car i don't own. So they can shove their lootboxes up their collective asses until they vomit them out.
Imagine completing a relatively challenging race, and instead of getting a cool car like it was common practice in previous GT games, you get your mouth stuffed with a few thousand credits. While all relatively desirable cars start upwards of 100k, with no ceiling. Which brings up to the next problem.
Nerfed income and microtransactions
With the lootbox mechanic and not being able to sell cars, the speed at which you can get credits is painfully slow. Oh, yes, did I not mention that you are not allowed to sell cars you own, not even prize cars? This seems a last minute 'addition' to the game too, since even the game description on the PS store talks about selling cars.
The goal seems to be to herd players towards buying in game currency with real money. Especially with many desirable vehicles costing upward of a million credits, it is hard to justify the grind necessary.
Some people defended the game with the argument that if you engage in the microtransactions it is your own damn fault, which is completely missing the point that the game is deliberately nerfed, as in made less enjoyable to make players buy the remedy.
And this is not even the most egregious part.
Timed invites to buy cars
Yes, they introduced a feature where you are given a specific time frame to buy certain cars after which they go away and you won't be able to buy them for who knows how long.
This is an obvious attempt at harnessing the power of fomo to make people spend more. It is pathetic and I will not stand for it.
These last few things so curtailed my excitment for the game that I found myself playing other games just a few days after release. I expected to be glued to the screen every day late into the night until I finished GT mode, like TLOU2 or Cyberpunk 2077 glued me to the screen, until I finished their respective campaigns, but GT has failed at this, and what's worse it failed by design.
- Hassle free installation
- Relatively bug free, only had 2 crashes in a week
- The GT experience still lurks in there
- AI improvements
- Slightly better physics
- Usable in-car view (it was horrid in GT6)
- Missions and license tests are still a fun challenge
- Fomo bait
- Nerfed credits
- Locked away content
- Handholding approach
- Non-voiced NPCs
- Sound effects
- Dirt driving physics
- Doesn't know how to clutch
Overall impression: 7/10
It could easily be a 9/10 if it ditched the lootboxes, allowed selling cars, and did not try to hide content behind plaster walls.
If you are into the GT series it is still a must have, but maybe just maybe wait for a sale, just to stick it to them.