Gran Turismo has been a gold standard for the simulation-racing genre for over 25 years. The franchise has continually served as a showcase for PlayStation’s latest hardware both from visual and technical standpoints. Gran Turismo 7 is no different in this regard; the racing has never felt more precise, nor have the vehicles ever looked truer to life. However, in the time since that initial entry, the field has caught up to Gran Turismo. This new entry is still an excellent driving simulation, but it’s no longer lapping the competition.
In fact, if you carry vivid memories of tuning a Prelude or Demio well beyond its designed capabilities, chances are that’s precisely why you’re here. GT7 is your youth in 4K, with ray tracing. It’s a remarkably earnest celebration of automotive history and the gaming franchise that disseminated that history to the masses 25 years ago. A celebration so earnest, it’s sometimes awkward.
For a game ostensibly about going fast, Gran Turismo 7 is entirely okay with taking its sweet old time about absolutely everything. There’s a lot of off-track mandatory activity. It’s more of a Sunday cruise than a Formula One race. But, lean into that and you’ll find a superlative driving experience. One that takes its time to fully reveal its strengths and capabilities, but delivers an unrivaled handling model, a massive roster of tracks and cars, and a ton of customization options to suit almost any player whether they want to race hot hatches, classic muscle or track-focused racers.
Gran Turismo 7 sets the tone early; this is the sim-racing series at its most self-indulgent. The several-minute-long, unskippable credit-reel chronicling the history of the automobile followed by a long in-game cutscene demonstrates just how serious it takes car culture. While other racing games have taken intentional strides to remove as many barriers to the fun as possible, Gran Turismo 7 has no qualms about doling out the action at its own pace. While this delivery is sometimes too slow in the early goings, once the career mode opens and rubber meets the road, sim racing doesn’t get much better than this.
Progression in GT7 is dictated by completing “Menu Books” picked up from the Gran Turismo Café. The Café acts as the hub of the game’s map, and the books task you with collecting groups of cars, winning certain races or performing certain tasks, like modding vehicles. Every time you complete a book you earn prizes, including tracks. Yes — you have to unlock tracks in GT7. That’s the kind of game we’re talking about here.
Gran Turismo 7’s tracks and cars are a thing of precise beauty. These games have always been the ideal showcase for a new console, and with PlayStation 5 the game absolutely delivers. Lighting is absolutely exquisite – not in the flashy, high contrast JJ Abrams way of games like Horizon Forbidden West. Instead, this light is unmistakably the real deal. Subtle, photorealistic. The way your headlamps beam through the haze of a dusk evening in Kyoto, or the way the sunlight cascades through the multiple layers of cloud over Laguna Seca is entirely convincing. The mix of light, track and metal car is so, so good. Combine that with the game’s driving model and it becomes such a moreish experience. The game might try its best to keep you off-track, but the fact you’re desperate to get back on track is a sign that the mechanical underpinnings of this game are fully doing their job.
Despite its multiplayer shortcomings, Gran Turismo 7 is a terrific racing experience. I love the emphasis on car collection and the respect paid to the history of automobiles and racing culture. Gran Turismo 7 provides some of the best driving mechanics available and gives you several guided ways in which to engage with it. While it sometimes spends too much time off the track, every long cutscene is clearly done with love, and that sentiment shines through even more on the track.
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