Gran Turismo 7
Let's Get The Elephant Out Of The Room Early On
Since the release of Gran Turismo 7, this was a question I braced myself before answering. I do have a definitive answer and after playing both titles for several hours, I know I can stick to it. Before I give my personal opinion I wanted to talk about my progress in GT7 thus far. I'm slowly leaving the "beginning" stages of the game. Unlike previous Gran Turismo titles, this one introduces a concise progression system known as the GT Cafe. This one mode wound up being the decider between GT7 and Forza Horizon 5.
The Cafe is one of the first locations included on the World Map and it's easily one of the most important. After introductions are made, the owner of the cafe will give you a menu book. The first book will ask to collect the other two starter cars and completing the menu will unlock race tracks. In my first take, I cheekily compared the trio of cars to Pokemon starters but this isn't the last time you'll complete a menu book like this. In fact, the game will give you more menus as you complete its objectives.
Occasionally, guests will arrive at the cafe and comment on your current vehicle while offering history lessons and insight. There are nuggets of information that are only featured in Cafe mode which is perfect for aficionados of a certain make and model. Gran Turismo 7 does a good job at nudging the player in the right direction, encouraging them to race at a new track they unlocked in order to unlock a gift car. That particular gift car is then used as one of the cars needed to fill a menu book. Turn in the menu book, unlock new courses, rinse and repeat all the while unlocking more of the World Map.
Gran Turismo 7 limits the player in what they can do, but as more modes such as multiplayer and GT Auto are unlocked, the veil is slowly lifted. After a while, the world stops being restrictive and becomes a vast world of professional racing and car culture. GT7 doesn't shower you with praise, it disciplines you and gives you a treat every time you make progress. It decides whether or not you are ready to explore all the title has to offer in steps. This is far different from Forza's approach and it's one of the causes of the fanbase's split down the middle.
One Game Disciplines While The Other Spoils The Driver
Even the most diehard Forza fan can agree that the game spoils the player, which is not a bad thing at all in this regard. On the spectrum of "arcade sim" racer, if Gran Turismo is on the "sim" side, Forza is definitely on the "arcade" side. While I'll be referencing Forza Horizon 5 a lot, as we're still waiting for Turn 10 to release Forza Motorsport 8, the same goes for Forza as a whole. Immediately, the game allows you to choose from several iconic cars, one of which is the new Toyota Supra.
Historically, the Supra is one of the cars to earn in any racing game and Playground Studios decided to make it a starter car. Soon, players will earn supercars within an hour of playtime due to the Festival Playlist. During every in-game "season," players can complete objectives to earn exotic rides exclusive to the playlist. Some are other supercars, some are fan favorites, yet every car is a valued machine.
Speaking Of Motorsport...
Couple this with a functioning auction house and the chance to earn bonus money and rides with wheelspins, players can start earning an entire garage full of amazing rides. Obviously, there is a story in Horizon 5 and as more events are completed, the more the map opens up. The difference here is that you're given many toys in a short period of time and an expansive map to play with them on. Admittingly, the Forza Motorsport series is more in tune with its roots as a racing simulator than its Horizon counterpart.
While Horizon is meant to live out the player's dreams and "hoon," Motorsport is all about racing. Nothing is stopping the player from buying their favorite car as earning credits in both Forza titles is as easy as increasing your proficiency in a manufacturer. The player will eventually earn enough with the amount of money thrown at them to create their dream car, configuration, and so much more. Its progression is simplistic but there's still a sense of progression made by the player.
Work Hard, Play Hard
A common complaint I see involving Gran Turismo 7 is that many things are locked and it requires effort from the player to unlock the fun stuff. I find that this game has made unlocking things easier than its predecessors as Polyphony Digital chose not to throw the player into the woods with 20k to their name.
The entire Cafe system exists to keep the player on track, offering a sense of progression that wasn't apparent before. The goal for Gran Turismo was always to clear the GT Championship, hence leading to the rolling of credits. Veterans know that the game doesn't end after the credits roll, but for newcomers, it offers a sense of completion.
The Verdict Is...
This is coming from a slight bias as I've mentioned that the original Gran Turismo was one of the first video games I've ever played. Putting that aside and pairing the two games together, I favor Gran Turismo 7 more as it has more soul to it. This is a game for fans of cars, sure, but even those who aren't as much of a fan can get mileage from the passion poured in this title. From a gameplay perspective, I prefer feeling like I'm unraveling a tightly woven gift when I play through a video game than having everything handed to me.
Those who prefer the opposite may favor Forza Horizon 5 and that's perfectly fine. The beauty of gaming is that those who are fans of both titles can see the pros and cons of each. Will I start up Horizon on my laptop when I eventually let GT7 run its course? Absolutely. But I know that this game is growing on me with a special place in my heart. I am dedicating a week to this game after all. Stay tuned for more Gran Turismo 7 content and opinions tomorrow!
Gran Turismo 7 is available on the PS4 and PS5.