Gran Turismo 7 - Firing On All Cylinders
The year is 2022, and we have reached the age where the line between the virtual world and reality is beginning to blur to the point I can no longer tell the difference. The new iteration of Gran Turismo is so graphically brilliant, so realistic, so beautifully rendered, that during the majority of the experience, I struggled to believe I was playing a video game. The first word Gran Turismo 7 pulled from me was an almost inaudible “wow” as the opening sequence transported me into a world where the love and passion for automotives was palpable. From the title screen onwards, Gran Turismo 7 sets a new standard for driving games, and carries this high calibre of gaming all the way to the finish line.
Racing games are one of my favourite genres to play. There is something so thrilling about tearing through a race and crossing the finish line, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust for your competitors to choke on. However Gran Turismo 7 isn’t a racing game, it is a driving simulator. Sure one of the main components of the game is racing, but this game is so much more than that. It is a project of love and passion for cars, their history and all that comes with it.
The most recent racing game I played was the remake of Burnout Paradise, and as most of you know, brakes aren’t needed in Paradise City. Being conditioned as I am to believe “brakes are for wimps” I sat down to get my GT licence thinking I could smash this out quickly and get on with the comps. However I soon realised that in Gran Turismo, you don’t “just get on” with anything. Every aspect of the game, from the tutorial, to racing, collecting cars and even just picking up new missions, is an experience. And for the tutorial, I got to experience my driving instructor telling me I didn’t know how to use my brakes (big surprise).
Gran Turismo 7 wants you to be a good driver. The game has implemented a range of ‘assistance features’ to help you get through races without being frustrated, but these are offered to you as a teaching aid and not as a handicap. Unlike in games like Mario Kart, where if you turn Drivers Assist on you’ll likely never turn it off, the GT7 assistance features are designed to be used on a temporary basis. Because I repeatedly shouted “brakes are for dorks” when applying for my licence, the game suggested that they handle the braking for me. They were also kind enough to lay down some guidelines on the tracks to teach me when I should brake. If you need more help than this, the game also offers features such as auto-steering and auto-drive. These can’t be used to cheese it through races or competitions though; they will slow you down. If you want to start racking up golds in the more difficult races, you’re gonna have to learn to drive without them.
Other than the obvious benefits of winning gold medals and prize money, becoming a better driver has a lot of other advantages too. One of these is that being a good driver feels good. GT7 has done an amazing job of making each car feel different from one another, but they’ve also really nailed the feeling between when you’re acing a race and when you’re sucking at it. Hearing my tyres screech and having my controller try to revolt against me when I was driving badly, really shifted my priorities from simply winning to winning well. The satisfaction you feel when you’re easing into turns and driving like a professional is amplified by how bloody good your replays start looking as your driving skills increase. When I started the game I was self correcting around most turns and slamming the accelerator at every opportunity, but after a couple of days I could already see the improvements I was making.
Becoming a better driver doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders though, it also depends a lot on the car you drive. Through its expert utilisation of the PS5 controller’s vibration and feedback, the difference between driving certain types of vehicles in this game is astounding. My favourite car of all time is the Mini Cooper, so of course it’s the first one I bought at the Used Car lot. The initial model I had was from 1965, and though it was fine to drive, I was stomped into the ground in my races because the car just didn’t have the power of a newer model. Steering was harder, I had to really lay into the accelerator to pick up speed and the car did not like it when I braked suddenly. When I had amassed a bit of prize money I took myself to the car dealership and bought a newer model, and the difference between the two was like night and day. The newer car turned with a feather touch of the analog stick, acceleration was smoother, braking was easier – the driving experience was an absolute treat.
This game feels sensational to play, and as a result it’s incredibly easy to lose hours to it. Finding a natural stopping point is really hard when each new win unlocks a stack of new content and cars to collect. In the hours I played I was constantly unlocking new gameplay modes, customisation options, race tracks, cars – the list goes on. With the sheer amount of content jammed into this title, it truly does have something for everybody. Anyone with an interest in cars is going to have all their dreams come true, but even for someone who knows nothing about them, I found every facet of this game entertaining and wonderful. For the racers, the collectors, the history buffs and the people who just like decorating things and taking pretty pictures, GT7 truly delivers.
On top of everything else GT7 has to offer, it also boasts a variety of multiplayer modes and gameplay options. Once servers go live you’ll have the option to compete in Daily Races which pit you up against people in your own skill level. You can also race your friends and connect with them online to view their race times, rankings and other stats. This is a feature I am personally looking forward to, and I know it’s going to be a tonne of fun when all my mates buy the game and we start lowkey bullying each other over who is the best driver. If racing online starts to get old there’s always the good old 2 Player Split Screen, which offers a great range of cars and tracks for those who want a more offline experience.
My one criticism of this game (and I honestly struggled to find one) is that the customisation component is not the most user friendly experience. When I first unlocked the ability to visually customise my car I was super excited for the options available to me, however with no tutorial to guide me through the process, I quickly became overwhelmed. I thought I could just go in, slap some decals on my Mini and call it a day, but that’s not the way it works. For those of you with the patience and artistic ability to master this mode, you will have an absolute field day. And once your car is looking fly, you can utilise the in-built photo mode to take gorgeous pictures of it. Like all things in Gran Turismo, the photo system is just as in-depth as everything else. You control so much more than just positioning cars in frame and hitting the shutter button, there’s the aperture speed, exposure value, aspect ratio and so much more. If you’ve never used a digital camera in your life the game will take you through what everything means, but it’s a lot to take in. However if you take the time to familiarise yourself with the systems, you’ll be rewarded with virtually limitless creative freedom.
If you’ve ever spoken to somebody who has true passion for a hobby or interest, you’ll know just how heart-warming it can be to listen to them speak about something they truly appreciate.Those moments in time, where passion and excitement marry up with a sense of wonderment, is what the entirety of Gran Turismo 7 feels like. Throughout the entire game the unbridled dedication to the history and craftsmanship of the automotive industry shines through so brightly. The devotion, the effort and the attention to detail that comes through in every aspect of this title makes it one that shouldn’t be missed.
Never in my life have I seen a development team so effectively and so beautifully bring to life the heart and soul behind a video game. Each and every aspect of this game has been developed with such love and care, that it has truly blown me away. Gran Turismo 7 has undoubtedly set the bar for all future driving titles; a standard I am sure will be very hard to beat.
Gran Turismo 7 was reviewed on the Playstation 5 with a code kindly supplied by Playstation Australia.