Here’s the thing: Gran Turismo was the series that got me into sim racing in the first place, so it holds a very special place in my heart. However, the series has been problematic over the years: poor car sounds and entries that don’t put enough focus on the fun factor that has both Forza series winning hearts and minds. Has Gran Turismo 7 set out to change that?
…caters a tad towards the “casual controller” experience…
In theory, it’s simple: push pedals, steer a wheel. In practice, it’s quite a bit different and sim racing looks to, as accurately as possible, give you the real-life experience without the potential for death and injury. And while this game mostly succeeds here (particularly in its extensive technical training), it also does something I’m a bit divided about: it makes the simulation a little less so by adding a teensy, undefeatable amount of steering assist that sometimes works against you. In addition, I found that having at least ABS on “weak” and traction control on “1” to provide the happiest balance between realism and accessibility. With both off, the 270 degrees of steering input and pedals were very hard to modulate with the necessary precision. In this way, they’ve somewhat “casualized” the experience a bit by focusing on assists, though I also surmise this is because most people will be playing with controllers. Having said all that, they do still focus on realism in other areas: we’re talking washing cars, changing oil, and the overall cost of purchase. They do open up the “fun” floodgates a bit more with modding cars as well as fine tuning. In case you were wondering why I always seemed to be faster than other cars, mods and tuning are my jam and precisely why. Overall, though, this is still a damned fine racing sim experience, even if it caters a tad towards the “casual controller” experience than the steering wheel one. But be weary of the AI: it’s apparently the 90s where AI has zero compunction about putting you in a wall.
A lot of cars are sadly much older…
After completing all the training and the championships, I easily clocked nearly 40 hours. But that’s because I’m hard on myself: I would restart races if I slammed other vehicles or wiped out. The good news is that the track count is healthy, the bad news is that the car count is not. And by car count, I’m not necessarily talking numbers, I’m talking roster. A lot of cars are sadly much older, and part of what makes racing games using real cars so fun is getting to digitally toy around with the latest and greatest. This might be why they allow the purchase of in-game money: they surely plan to add more cars in the future. I didn’t find any need to purchase it, though, as I had plenty of money and cars by the end. Oh, and some novelty modes most people won’t care about because this is a racing sim.
Perfect cars, cross-gen cursed everywhere else.
Before we begin, do yourself a favor: turn off the race music, turn the engine volume up to max as well as for other cars, and thank me later. As for the graphics, this is that cross-gen problem we can’t seem to escape. The cars themselves are some of THE highest and most detailed I’ve ever seen, and I simply could not stop watching the absolutely fantastic looking replays thanks to ray tracing… when it works. This is where cross-gen comes in, as there seems to be some sort of budget for when ray tracing kicks in and when it doesn’t. This is also apparent in the backgrounds as it is clear these backgrounds were built with the PS4 in mind, and the assets were not rebuilt or enhanced for the PS5. Want more evidence of that? The abysmal water mist following behind cars in the rain could easily be done better on the PS5. Moving onto car sounds is another interesting area: if you did what I said at the start of this section and ONLY play in cockpit view, it sounds absolutely fantastic. Any other camera viewpoint? Not so much. In summary? Perfect cars, cross-gen cursed everywhere else.
It’s a good sim racer…
Racing simulators have always only appealed to a very small subset of people who play videogames especially when you consider how even less of them overall focus on playing racing games. But car enthusiasts like me just can’t skip a good racing game, and Gran Turismo has served us for years with an accessible sim-racing experience. This entry might lean a little too far to the casual side, have dated AI much like its roster, and be cursed by graphical cross-gen resource budgeting, but it still gets sim racing right, adds modding and tuning fun, has a healthy track count, and replays are blissfully cathartic to watch. Conclusion? It’s a good sim racer, but far from a great one.