Gran Turismo 7
The Moon Rises Over The Castle Once More
It's amazing to consider that in the past month alone there has been an amazing collection of high-quality games that have been released. With Elden Ring released last week, racing game fans have their time to enjoy quite possibly one of the best racing titles this year. If not the best, then at least one of the best well-put-together experiences I've enjoyed. The Gran Turismo series has been around for 25 years, as the first game was released at the tail end of 1997 in Japan. The next 25 years would begin a legacy that pushed the limits of what a video game could be graphically as well as aesthetically. Longtime series produce Kazunori Yamauchi and the rest of Polyphony Digital's quarter-century philosophies are carried in Gran Turismo 7.
What makes this release commemorable aside from the anniversary celebration is its release itself. This marks the first time in Gran Turismo history that the same game was released on both consoles simultaneously. Gran Turismo 1 and 2 were released on the PSX. 3 and 4 were on the PS2, 5 and 6 were on the PS3, and finally, Sport was on the PS4. Gran Turismo Sport isn't considered by fans to be a part of the main series, as this was PD's foray to make it into racing esports. Throughout almost the entirety of the PS4's lifespan, PD had seen success in its many world tours, some of which are referenced in GT7 itself. Exactly how impressive is this title compared to the other AAA titles released?
Before We Race, Bring In The Dancing Lobsters
Imagine this, you've waited years for the next installment of one of your favorite series since childhood. In fact, it has the honor of being one of the first video games you've ever played. After a long installation, you get ready to try Gran Turismo 7 only for the game to thrust you in this weird rhythm game called "Music Rally." In this mode, you drive a car around a circuit while matching the driving to the beat of whatever song is playing. Each beat acts as a timer and reaching checkpoints adds time, ending the race if the timer runs out or when the song ends.
It's a glorified checkpoint race with two different timers. That's all "Music Rally" is. Leave it to Polyphony Digital to take the mundane and provide a unique spin on it, however. Personally, while it's a neat addition to Gran Turismo, it's nothing that I would prefer over something like a Time Trial mode. The song used was a remix of existing classical numbers, which, again was cute but it was nothing I'd go back to. Unfortunately, for the impatient, this is required in order to play the game for the first time.
Gran Turismo 7's Progress Is Seamless Between Platforms
I briefly touched upon the installation process, but it's a hefty one as it's similar to that of Horizon Forbidden West. Sadly, this means for PS4 owners, this game is split into two discs. This time around, I decided to get footage of both the PS4 and PS5 versions because Gran Turismo historically knocks it out of the park with its graphics. To this day, Gran Turismo 4 is one of the most visually impressive games to come from the PS2 era. I was curious to see if it continued its impressive streak. Needless to say, despite the game running in "2K," the PS4 version keeps pace with its PS5 counterpart.
Another reason I was curious about the two versions was because of their progression. Polyphony Digital hadn't shied away from that Gran Turismo 7 would be online only. This would mean that the game would be saved on a server rather than locally. Even before I played the game, I had high hopes that progression between the PS4 and PS5 (and vice versa) would be seamless. After starting my career on the PS4, switching to the PS5, going back to the PS4, and settling on the PS5, I'm happy to inform you that the game remembered my progress. Speaking of progression...
Pokécar: Gotta Drive 'Em All
Stop me if you heard this one before. You are a fledgling explorer who is given an opportunity to select from three starters before embarking on your journey. While each starter is similar to the other, they are different enough to provide a different early game experience. As you progress your goal is to unlock badges of merit to prove that you are capable of taking extreme challenges. You are also encouraged to complete your collection at the same time. NPCs and mentors are there to help you along the way, rewarding you for completing their quests. Oh, and you battle against others as well both via the AI and online matches.
When I was recording content for Gran Turismo 7, I thought of it as an extreme stretch that I felt like I was playing a Pokemon title. Sure enough, replace your three starter Pokemon with three starter Japanese compacts and you're on to something. Then, consider "gym badges" as "license tests" from the license center, with battles being replaced with races, and things start to get weird. It was this scene that followed after I filled my collection of Japanese cars when it started to settle in.
Gran Turismo 7 prides upon educating its players on the history of Pokecars---I mean, the cars in the game. Perhaps it was the color coordination or the tone of the dialogue itself, but I truly felt like Professor Oak was talking to me about the world of, well, Pokemon. It would seem I wasn't the only one who thought this. Well played, Polyphony Digital.
This "Linear" Start To Career Mode Is Both Good And "Bad"
Here's where things get tricky. Unless you have the Day 1 Edition of Gran Turismo 7 which nets you 100k credits, to begin with, the average player must begin with any of the three starter cars. My last played game was 2005's Gran Turismo 4. That's almost two decades ago, so a lot has changed since then. Still, I recall the earlier GT's giving their players a lot less hand-holding as in you had a starting allowance and you were left to your own devices. The problem was that there was too much content for players to explore on their own (to this day I'm finding something new every day with GT4)
GT7 sets to alleviate this problem by introducing everything to the player in order. Beginning with the dealership, then to the cafe, and finally the racing mode itself. It's like playing, well, Pokemon and having the NPCs show you around town to where the Pokemart, Pokemon Center, and the Gym are. The minor setback in this is that everyone will start the same way before branching off to do whatever it is they wish. I'm grasping at straws here, but aside from the initial lack of freedom, GT7 allows the player to get on the road immediately.
Gran Turismo 7 Is The Real Driving Simulator
It's something I briefly mentioned during my Assetto Corsa Competizione preview, but the racing was never the prime focus of the series, but the car culture itself. GT Sport was the series's attempt to highlight auto-racing for the sake of its role within the culture and GT7 includes auto racing as a piece of the puzzle. Polyphony Digital had done a fine job of giving back to GT Sport supporters by introducing Daniel Solis, one of its prolific drivers, as an NPC for the license center. The average fan wouldn't notice references and details like these, but those who have been invested in Gran Turismo would recognize a familiar face and name such as his.
Overall, Gran Turismo 7 was a long time coming for fans of the series and racing games in general. I've spared the mention of the other game on the green console because I feel both series have brought different things to the racing game table. I adore both series, but Gran Turismo has always had a special place in my heart. From the chill atmosphere, amazing original soundtracks, and is the one series that ignited my love for cars. Gran Turismo 7 has so far done an excellent job at making adults feel like kids again, with the newer generation being introduced to the automotive culture like we were at their age.
Gran Turismo 7 is available now on PS4 and PS5