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The GT Sport Demo Shows How Gran Turismo's Future Is In Online Racing

The same but different.

After years of waiting (once again) a new Gran Turismo is finally about to be released on PlayStation 4. GT Sport sees the venerable series move slightly away from its insistence on being a “driving simulator” and towards competitive racing and esports.

This is Gran Turismo through and through, from the insistence on teaching you how to accelerate and brake – that it does teach the greater complexities of racing is a good thing though – to the menu system and the obsession with taking photos of digital cars, now transposing them into real world photos. For better or for worse, this still has Polyphony’s now age old oil lubricating its engine.

The huge 43GB beta-cum-demo includes slices of all the entire game, letting you take on the driving lessons, a handful of the missions across a wide variety of tracks, sample a subset of those tracks of your own volition and potentially drive any car in the game if you earn enough cash or get lucky with a randomised reward. A good slice of progress will carry over to the final game as well.

The car handling been further refined and overhauled, the visual effect that suspension and weight have as you drive has been improved, the tyre model revised, and on and on. Yet it feels like Gran Turismo, from the way the Traction Control feels as it smothers your acceleration when steering too far to the tyre squeal that, while more varied, will be a familiar accompaniment to your driving.

However, there’s a vibrancy and life to the graphics that I don’t think the series has really managed to capture in the past. Even with HDR turned off, the colours pop, the sun dazzles when hanging low in the sky, the cars and their liveries look fantastic, and being able to prioritise performance over resolution on PlayStation 4 Pro means you end up with a fantastically smooth experience or one that will make the most of a 4K TV.

Of course, there’s still some major omissions in comparison to its rivals this year, and even to the Gran Turismo games on PlayStation 3. Losing out on dynamic time is relatively forgivable, unless you wanted to run a sped up day-night race and emulate a 24 hour race at Le Mans or the Nurburgring, but the loss of dynamic weather is more disappointing when it’s something in the real world that helps distinguish the very best drivers with their ability to handle changing conditions. You can set a particular time of day, so night races are still a possibility, but we’ll have to wait until next week’s full release to see how extensive and adjustable this is.

Racing against the AI once again exposes Polyphony’s inability to create truly compelling single player races though. Throwing you into a number different scenarios is great, challenging you to race to first and make a pit stop, and it’s a lovely challenge, but it lacks genuine drama when you’re starting from behind and are multiple seconds faster than the AI each lap.

However, since the launch of Gran Turismo 5, the single player has probably meant less and less to the series. For years GT5 was the most played multiplayer game on PlayStation 3, and GT Sport looks to conquer the burgeoning esports racing scene as well.

While the menus have often been maligned since GT5, one thing Polyphony have absolutely perfected is how to host an online lobby. You can change all the settings on the fly, the map loading in the background with a central viewer peering into the track if you’d prefer to sit in the lobby and tinker with your car set up.

A similar consideration has been afforded to the online multiplayer Sport mode, gearing itself toward creating evenly matched races in a fascinating fashion. There’s a hint of Driveclub as you sign up to take part in a race that’s part of a steady schedule and rota, but instead of simply diving into a lobby and just being shoved in by a previously assigned skill level, you’re encouraged to set qualifying laps before the event starts. You can qualify at your leisure, setting times as you explore and practice the map before you decide to enter a race in a 15 minute window before it starts.

In tandem with your driver and sportsmanships rating, it’s from those times across all players entering the race that each set of up to 24 racers is grouped together for a single race, and since you’ve been through qualifying, you’ll start the race near similarly fast players. Yes, some players can be asshats or don’t have the necessary nous and courtesy to race wheel to wheel, but the unique combination of factors that Polyphony draw upon leads to some good racing in my experience and helps keep things competitive.

It also keeps you coming back for more with a Daily Workout challenge to drive a certain distance each day, which rewards you with a random car, while mileage points that will eventually be spent on cosmetics, and further rewards for completing certain feats in the game – don’t worry, there’s nary a microtransaction in sight.

Those that have gone off GT in the last decade likely won’t be won over, and in some ways it will simply be papering over the cracks of age old flaws, but the focus on multiplayer could pay off. Simply put, you’ve got to try this demo for yourself – yes, I’m familiar with the pain of a 43GB download on a not too great connection, but even so, it’s a great opportunity to explore the game, decide for yourself if it’s worth getting, and get an early start to your car collection.

22 Comments
  1. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    My dilemma at the moment is deciding which version of the game to get!
    I love look of that GTSport DS4 that’s bundled with the intermediate
    version of the game but the Merc AMG GTS diecast that comes with the
    collectors edition would look soooo good on my desk!

    Ah well, third world problems :P

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 15:59.
    • Nera Eris
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      I want it too though it seems to be unavailable atm. Maybe for now just put a GT sticker on yer current DS4 :)

      Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 16:14.
      • freezebug2
        Member
        Since: Dec 2008

        Haha! maybe get a wrap down at city custom motors :P

        Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 14:45.
    • cam_manutd
      Member
      Since: May 2010

      I have gone for the Ed with the controller. Can’t have too many of those (Y)

      Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 22:32.
  2. TheShepanator
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Slightly disappointing that dynamic time of day hasn’t made its way into GT sport. Some of my favourite moments with GT5 and GT6 were doing accelerated time races.

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 16:14.
  3. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    When does the demo end?

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 17:41.
    • freezebug2
      Member
      Since: Dec 2008

      Unfortunately today!

      Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 14:46.
  4. camdaz
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    The AI in the ‘missions’ is crap. The last one you can do in the demo is a 30 lap race and on numerous occasions an AI driver has piled into the back of me spinning me around. One occasion I was on the last Lap when leading and I got hit by a back marker, got back on track still leading and it happened again.
    I really thought the AI would be sorted this time, it’s been one of the biggest disappointments since the first game.

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 17:51.
    • Nera Eris
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      every racing game as the same problem to fair.

      Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 20:03.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        F1 2017 and Forza have pretty good AI tbf. Assetto Corsa’s new patched AI also is very competitive and have good racecraft.

        Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 20:22.
    • mclarenrob2
      Member
      Since: Jul 2012

      I did the earlier Interlagos race and I thought the AI was pretty good. There was an Audi car that pitted quite early but on the penultimate lap while I was in the lead dived right up my inside and took the lead.
      I got the lead back in the twisty sections where they brake for no reason, but then it dived up the inside on the final corner…

      Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 21:22.
      • camdaz
        Member
        Since: May 2009

        The AI in the normal races was fine it was just the final mission.

        Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 09:22.
  5. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    Really enjoyed the Polyphony touch to overall presentation. Had some decent enough fun in Sport mode, and the livery editor was okay – impressive to put your custom livery cars in a photoscape and such.

    Honestly though, there’s really not that much to do. The missions are track guides and licence tests with bad AI and easy goals. So there’s just Sport mode, but I’m hoping there’s more than 3 events at 20 minute intervals, otherwise it gets boring fast.

    The physics are decent enough, but there’s no challenge to the driving, and not much of a visceral experience – great for online meets where everyone can reach the limit a bit easier. That’s the main thing I’m hoping for, closer racing in the Monday meets.

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 18:40.
  6. cam_manutd
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Can’t wait. Been playing GT6 recently and then some of the demo. The approach to the multiplayer is the way the industtry is moving. It is done really well though. Can’t wait.

    Comment posted on 11/10/2017 at 22:33.
  7. MrYd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    From my short time playing it, I’m unconvinced.

    Looks very nice, and the menus are a vast improvement of the abominations they’ve created in previous games.

    The AI seems to have 3 settings that might as well be labelled “stupidly easy”, “little bit harder, but still stupidly easy” and “wait, why isn’t there a setting between this and the stupidly easy ones?”. How does the difficulty go from being first by a large margin to being last by an even bigger margin?? Or is it just me being crap?

    The tutorial thing is a bit ridiculous. 45 second loading times followed by 15 seconds of driving in a straight line. (Which somehow I failed due to that issue with the R2 button that always seems to affect mostly driving games with 1 of my controllers)

    And the photo mode is quite fancy. You can take pictures of fancy cars just down the road from where I live. Fairford is about 5 miles away, if I ignored roads. And one of the Slaughters is not that far either. Did I imagine or dream it, but are extra locations to stick your cars in going to be available to buy? Along with the inevitable extra cars and paint colours and a million other things.

    So far, it’s looking like one to buy later on when it’s cheap and there aren’t 162 other things I need to get around to playing.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 10:19.
  8. Paranoimia
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Played the earlier beta and decided not to bother. Bought every version up to 5, didn’t bother with 6, and probably won’t go back until there are some drastic changes.

    Bought Project Cars 2, and loving it.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 12:54.
  9. Severn2j
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Hmm, looks like the download will finish just in time for it to expire…

    Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 13:08.
  10. KAMIKAZE-UK
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    How strong is the TSA community for meet ups right now? If there are regular meets and there is space for me then I’d get the game to join you guys.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 16:08.
    • Avenger
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      Monday evenings, 8pm, every week. Plenty of space.

      Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 16:40.
      • KAMIKAZE-UK
        Member
        Since: May 2009

        Thanks for the reply.

        Is this the schedule for GT once it lands? I can’t make mondays :-0

        Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 16:43.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        It’s the normal schedule every week, yeah. We’re doing PCars2 atm, but once GT lands we’ll move to that providing the servers are up.

        Comment posted on 12/10/2017 at 16:53.

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