Gran Turismo is back!

The Gran Turismo franchise has been on a slow decline ever since its fifth installation to the series back in 2010. It wasn’t to say that the games that came out were on a path of a guaranteed failure. They became less enticing and became overshadowed by their Microsoft counterpart, Forza. This franchise needed some kind of reboot or revitalization, something that would bring out what made GT so great back in its golden era between the first two PlayStation consoles.Β Now in 2022, Gran Turismo 7 nails that.

The road leading up to GT7 was a mostly quiet one until itsΒ announcement alongside the PlayStation 5 in 2020. Seeing the power of Sony’s now released next-gen console rendering a hyper-realistic Porsche 917K β€˜70 was mind-blowing. There is no way that these are the graphics for the game, but that’s exactly it. Polyphony Digital took their slogan, β€œGran Turismo is back”, and ran with it, giving us a game that has an insane number of vehicles, an amazing soundtrack, and driving mechanics that appeal to casuals and the gearheads.

The point of racing simulation games is to have access to a plethora of different vehicles from various manufacturers. You want to essentially have such a wide array and choose some to your liking, tune them, customize them, and take them to the track. This game touts over 400 vehicles spanning from large-name brands like Ford and Toyota, but it also has those from different classes.

Polyphony Digital took their slogan, β€œGran Turismo is back”, and ran with it, giving us a game that has an insane number of vehicles, an amazing soundtrack, and driving mechanics that appeal to casuals and the gearheads.

You start off the game in your typical compact vehicles that can probably hit about 120 MPH before it starts redlining. As you progress, you start getting into the more luxury-brand names, iconic cars like the Nissan R-34 or Toyota Supra, and even as far as Le Mans cars and futuristic concept cars. Each car will handle differently and have separate tuning options where you can tinker with things like tire settings, drivetrains, suspensions, differentials and so much more.

There is such a detailed breakdown for each individual vehicle that it can be overwhelming, but it’s more of a display of depth when it comes to driving simulation. Top that off with having to perform maintenance on your vehicles too. Give them a wash, change the oil, restore the engine, and repair any sort of cosmetic and suspension damage as you use your cars more.

As I said, this can be overwhelming, but there are so many tutorials that can help you walk through this if need be. In fact, you don’t even have to go into the nitty-gritty and perform all these RPM adjustments, camber angling, and all this other automotive jargon. If you just want to buy car parts like better brakes and tires, you can do just that and be fine.

While this might be a divisive aspect of the game, Gran Turismo 7 does bring back the dreaded license exams. If you have ever played any of the mainline games, you’ll know what this is. For those who don’t, these are essentially scenarios where you drive a particular car through an obstacle or an entire course and have to complete it within a time limit. Going off-road, hitting a wall, or not reaching the goal within the time limit results in a failure. You will need to start doing these as you progress further, so the game will really want you to hone your driving skills. As painful as they may be, you will pick up or master a few techniques along the way.

This progression-based mode is accompanied by the new β€œCafe” mode which serves as a means of introducing players of all skill levels to the definitive experience of a racing simulation game. The Cafe mode specifically will guide you through different generations of automotive history, helping you acquire a generous handful of vehicles to get your racing career started. It’s a loose rendition of what a story mode would be for this game.

There has never been a real β€œstory mode” when it comes to Gran Turismo titles because they’re more akin to automotive sandboxes. You want to collect all the cars, tune them to your liking, customize their appearances, and race other people to earn more money. This is more of a much-needed correction and addition to the notable downfalls of previous titles, namely Gran Turismo Sport.

At a quick glance, this game does appear to be built off of the many familiar aspects of Gran Turismo Sport. The UI in the menus and in races, the tracks, and many vehicles from that game has been brought over to GT7, but Polyphony Digital took the content from it and added in so much more with polish. It’s not just a game that’s all about the online aspect with no real progression.

This feels more like a culmination of what Sport should have been, but diving into the roots of what made the franchise so great, to begin with. Since then, graphics have obviously been worked on heavily to really show the capabilities of next and even current generation hardware. The weather mechanics also greatly improved, giving more of a sense of realism of how it affects driving under certain conditions.

Down to the other tidbits, the realism extends further into car models and their sounds. The way light reflects off the vehicles at different times of the day and in certain weather conditions is breathtaking. Environments reflected off the surfaces of the vehicles really take next-generation technology to a whole new level.

This feels more like a culmination of what Sport should have been, but diving into the roots of what made the franchise so great, to begin with.

While I did not have a steering wheel to play this game, the haptic feedback, vibrations, and adaptive triggers add a whole new layer of immersion thanks to the heavy utilization of the Dualsense Controller. You’ll feel everything when you drive, like speed bumps, the red and white corners on turns, and other objects you drive over or hit in the form of the Dualsense’s vibrations activating at different frequencies.

PlayStation 4 players will not be able to really take in this aspect because the Dualshock 4 doesn’t have this, but even without all the technologies, there’s still much to take in from Polyphony Digital’s strong return to form.

What makes Gran Turismo games so great is their captivating original soundtracks. The menu music from GT7 takes me back to 2001 when I’d leave the game idle on Gran Turismo 3. It builds an atmosphere that, while it stays very chill and classy, adds a layer of personality that’s hard to establish for a sandbox racing game.

From the classical music, remixes in between, electronica, and even diving into lounge, rock, and pop, the music provokes a feeling of grandeur. It’s something that has always been a strong suit when it comes to GT games, but this goes above and beyond what other titles in this franchise established. Seriously, bravo to the composers and all the artists involved in contributing to this game’s soundtrack.

Finally, what makes racing games appeal to the gearheads the most are the engine sounds. In short, these cars sound phenomenal. You can really hear and even feel the purrs of the different engines per vehicle. They’re all captured in a way where, depending on your camera view and proximity to other vehicles, you can tell what is what.

The Verdict

Gran Turismo 7 is a love letter to people who enjoy cars in general. Its next-gen capabilities create an immersive sense of realism down to driving on its expansive list of tracks. With over 400 vehicles to earn and many modes to explore, this game will provide content for years to come with proper support. This is exactly what the franchise needed to give it that second wind it desperately needs to compete with the likes of Forza.

P.S. Sony or Polyphony Digital, please release this game’s soundtrack on Spotify.