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Review

Gran Turismo Sport Review

Motor esports

Gran Turismo Sport looks set to kickstart a new era for Polyphony Digital’s long running series. In partnership with the FIA and with an officially sanctioned esport set up within the game, the series’ self-description as a driving simulator is something of a misnomer. Now it’s really all about racing against others online.

The game looks simply incredible, it must be said, and while it still hews towards the kind of clean and clinical accuracy of the last few games on PlayStation 3, it’s transformed by the power of PlayStation 4. That extra oomph allows it to pack in more detail, an overhauled lighting system that was built from the ground up to make the most of the new high dynamic range technology, while still boasting Polyphony’s typical attention to detail. Even on a standard 1080p TV, there’s a vibrancy to the image, colours pop realistically, while the glint of sunlight off a window or bodywork dazzles. but play in 4K and with HDR turned on and all of these characteristics are amplified further with increased contrast and depth to all the colours. It’s something that dazzles, and yet plays to your subconscious. It runs very well too, and I’ve not noticed any real drops in performance, even in packed online races with 24 racers.

Those big online races are really at the heart of the game. The Sport mode is intended to be the gateway to racing and competing in Polyphony’s take on esports, and its implementation is unique. Daily races are the bread and butter of this, listing a series of upcoming events which cycle through on a particular schedule – initially, these were set to 20 minute intervals, cycling between three events, but that’s flexible and already changing. You can set a qualifying time at any point prior to the start time, and this time will stand as the event is re-run throughout the day. It’s a kind of crowd qualifying, as your time, driver rating and sportsmanship rating are then taken into account to matchmake lobbies together as a race gets under way.

It’s a fascinating system and one that works very well to bring players of roughly equivalent ability together, and then also place them near to one another on track. Over time, the overarching ratings should help bring accomplished and clean racers together more consistently, but by and large I’ve enjoyed some great, close and fair racing online. Of course, drop further back and players will be slower and scrappier, and if you head to the player-created Lobbies multiplayer area, all bets are off with the kind of racers you’ll encounter though you will see or be able to bring much more variety in the types of racing or simple social driving available.

The important thing that GT Sport does compared to its sim racing rivals, is that it actually tries to teach you how to drive and how to race. The single player Campaign isn’t even vaguely comparable to the GT Mode of the past and will provide only a fleeting appeal, but between the Beginner’s School, Mission Challenge and Circuit Experience, it steadily works through different types of corners you’ll encounter, different handling characteristics and certain scenarios like battling through from fifth to win, while also having to pit. Racing game fans will breeze through them, especially as many of them mimic license tests from previous games, but they’re important for newcomers and those wanting a refresher – you also get a good haul of randomised gift cars from all of this. It’s a shame then that the actual barrier to online play is simply watching two short videos on sportsmanship that assert that you wouldn’t want to look bad when you’re racing, would you?

While you can learn a certain degree of race craft through the challenges, you’re all too often racing against the stereotypically dimwitted and pedestrian AI that inhabit Gran Turismo games. As races and scenarios start you near the back of a grid and expect you to win, the AI aren’t really let off the leash to actually go and race you. They show flashes of feistiness and a willingness to try and pass you when given the opportunity, but they’re just as likely to bungle their way into the side of you and spin you out if you’re a bit slow through a tight corner.

There’s an almost subdued, subliminal brilliance to some of the more minor details in the game. Proximity indicators are there for left and right, but integrated into the main HUD, with the edges of the screen also darkening when someone’s in your blind spot, while the myriad of incremental options for assisting you through corners are great. You can have a racing line, a cornering line, a braking point indicator, highlights and/or cones for the apex and suggested turning points, or none of this. When a racing line is an easy crutch to fall back on and leads to early braking, the way GT Sport lets you scale this back gently and let you learn the track is a key component to teaching you to drive faster.

It should come as no surprise that behind all of this GT Sport’s handling feels like an evolution of previous games. It skews away from being an outright simulator toward a somewhat more accessible model that makes every car feel drivable from the off, but there’s also a great depth to the simulation as well. That is, in my opinion, a great thing about this game, as it balances accessibility with realism, and it allows me to feel like I’m always in control and actually push, instead of teetering on the limits of what I can wrestle the car into.

You can still head into the tuning menus to tweak ride height, toe in, downforce, and so on. Vehicle upgrades have been stripped all the way down to spending a handful of Mileage Points – earned for simply driving – to boost the upper limits of simple percentage sliders for weight and power, so you won’t find the kinds of internal component swapping for GT6, let alone the body kits and upgrade packages. They’re not particularly necessary here, as the 160-odd vehicles skew towards sports cars, both real and fictional concept cars.

There’s also a mixture of real and fictional circuits, as is customary for Gran Turismo. There’s some great new additions to the roster, such as the Interlagos GP circuit, but then there’s notable omissions for a game that wants to blend real and digital racing, with Hockenheim, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, and many other classic circuits missing – more tracks and cars are to be coming as DLC, it has been said. Instead, we have some of the best custom circuits that Polyphony have created so far, which simply offer a fun mixture of contrasting elements, from sweeping turns to tight hairpins, fast street circuit-like sections and some awesome changes in elevation.

Yet, there’s also a ton of idiosyncrasies in the game, missed opportunities and regressions compared to Gran Turismo 6. VR mode is a brilliant example of virtual reality, but so light on actual compelling content that it might as well not exist. There’s also the disappointing step away from dynamic time and dynamic weather – the physics for rain were added in the day one patch, but wet racing isn’t yet available. Oh, and the insistence on having an online connection to save progress is anti-consumer, though thankfully we’ve only seen minimal teething issues with this requirement at the game’s launch.

You have many of the familiar Gran Turismo design choices as well, with particular omissions being the lack of launch control for race starts, as something that is often key in deciding winners and losers in real life, and a “real” setting for electronic assists that will match the traction control and ABS to whatever the cars feature in reality. However, when almost all of the cars are from the last two decades, so many of them come with ABS and TC anyway.

What’s Good:

  • Looks simply fantastic, especially in 4K HDR
  • Great evolution of Gran Turismo’s handling model
  • Well thought out multiplayer matchmaking
  • Tons of tiny details to help your driving
  • Some of the best original GT tracks yet
  • Scapes are truly impressive blends of reality and digital cars

What’s Bad:

  • Lacking single player Campaign
  • No dynamic time and no wet weather at launch
  • Still no launch control or realistic assists settings
  • VR Tour is a missed opportunity
  • Server connection requirement for saving

Gran Turismo Sport is a near essential purchase for PlayStation 4 racing fans. There might be a few disappointments in some of the limitations and regressions, but the brilliance of the game is in the small details that combine to enable willing players to become better drivers and racers and the implementation of multiplayer. Underneath it all, this is still a very familiar feeling Gran Turismo racing game, but it’s also one that’s set to grow and evolve over time and looks set to herald a new era of competitive online racing.

Score: 8/10

Version Tested: PS4, PS4 Pro

27 Comments
  1. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    The way I see it, there’s a distinct lack of things to do. You’ve got the daily races, so that’s 3 races per day. Online lobbies, that’s standard stuff. Other than that? The usual gt driving tests and a few challenges.
    It really needs more content, more things to do. Why aren’t there single player championships?

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:50.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Oh I should add, I’m really enjoying the driving. The gameplay is outstanding, as expected. I just hope they patch in more things to do soon.

      Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:51.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        For better or for worse, it’s all geared toward online competitive now. Racing against AI has taken a back seat in this game, and given how roundly criticised the AI has been in the last couple of games, maybe that’s for the best.

        As for the daily races, you can do them time and again, it’s not 3 and done, you keep on earning mileage and points. It’s like in a shooter where you play the same maps over and over again, where the difference is the people you’re playing against.

        Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:00.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Oh yeah, I get that, and I’ve been redoing the dailies, trying to get better, but you’ve got to admit it’s a bit limited in scope. I really want them to flesh out that area and add more activities in.

        Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:06.
    • Avenger
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      In fairness this isn’t classic GT anymore, Polyphony don’t seem too interested in single player career at the moment.

      Also, they’d have reinvent the AI to create anything decent offline. It’s a must.

      I really want them to add tons of variety to the Sport mode. If you liked those few daily races, it might be worth doing the test season on Nov 4th. I don’t know what it’ll involve, but fingers crossed for variety.

      Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:56.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Agreed, see my comment below in reply to your original comment.

        Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:59.
  2. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    Well I have to say, that’s one of the most honest reviews I’ve read in a while. It judges the game for what it is, not what it should be.

    The problem is it’s not an ‘essential purchase’ as a lot of people won’t be interested in competitive racing online. It really revolves around that Sport mode, and people’s mileage with it is going to vary greatly.

    Personally the game has been good, but it’s running out of appeal a bit. I’ve done the track guides and those awfully laborious training missions. I have over half the cars in my collection, arcade mode is dull and boring, I want to do more of the Sport mode but it only has one decent event and it gets boring after a while.

    I’ve been trying to increase my SR rank too, but for every clean race I get another where I’m rammed out of the way or penalised because someone spun out and hit me. I’ve raced some fast people and they’ve had issues.

    Ultimately I hope they expand the Sport mode more. That’s where the game is at, anything else is novelty.

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:51.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Yep, the sport mode needs expanding, massively.
      3 x daily time trials with leaderboards.
      Multi race championships.
      These things should be in there from the start.

      Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 13:58.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Also, the penalty decisions in sport mode are a joke. Twice I’ve been running along quite nicely, someone smashes into the back of me and sends me flying, only for the game to award me a 10 second penalty. So annoying.
        If someone smashes into you, they should just be flat out removed from the race and given a 5 minute ban or something.

        Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:17.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        The penalty logic is well dodgy. A guy spun out mid corner, I turned as much as I could to avoid, clipped his front end, got my speed massively reduced, only for the game to give me a 10 sec penalty and SR reduction to add insult to injury.

        The racing does get better the higher your ratings are, but incidents like the above can just as easily happen.

        Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:37.
  3. tonyyeb
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    I can’t see it would be that difficult to patch in a career mode. A selection of races with tiers to progress through (like in GT5, GT6). The core game would allow that easily enough. Might be something they look at after the amount of whinges about it. The AI isn’t that bad, bit better than previous games.

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:06.
  4. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Great reviews, as Avenger said you did well to judge it on its own merits more than comparing it to the previous games. Despite the online focus I’m interested, I do love a good racing game, but I haven’t got a wheel nor do I have space or time to enjoy one. This is why I didn’t get Project Cars or Asetto Corsa, I tried PC both ways and it felt too hard without a wheel, but I did love DriveClub’s truly fun mix of simisms and arcadiness with a controller. Is GT Sport going to be any fun for a casual, DS4 toting driver like me?

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:27.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Yeah, GT Sport works really well with controller I find – and I agree, it was one of my main complaints with PCars 2 as well. I haven’t done online racing with a DS4, but working through a few of the single player things, you can definitely live with the times set by people on a racing wheel. It’s just a twitchier control scheme on the whole.

      And GT Sport has been geared toward MP since it was announced. I’m still disappointed at how limited it is for single player, but the focus has been clear all along and it’s a great fit overall for Polyphony’s attitude toward driving/racing games. It’s just a shame that there are these missed opportunities and half measures for things like VR mode or time and weather.

      Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:40.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        Thanks Tef that helps a lot, GT Sport can just go on my wish list for now then. I guess I’m I’m disappointed that from the reviews and lead up I don’t feel it’s as essential as you do but I will pick I up at some point, after all the Star Wars :)

        Comment posted on 21/10/2017 at 05:21.
  5. stigdu
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I like, but don’t generally love, driving games. This one however has me hooked.

    The graphics are simply sublime, and are among the best I’ve seen on a PS4. The use of surround sound is also great, particularly when you’re driving underneath the Red Arrows or a lone helicopter.

    I just completed all the training levels late last night, and I founf them a pleasure to get through. They have really helped my driving (even though I’ve been driving in real life for 25 years) although I *still* sometimes seem to turn very shallowly around tight corners and often fly off the track.

    Really looking forward to new cars, new tracks, and of course, weather implementation.

    I only played a couple of Sport online races last night, but they were both good fun, good-natured in spirit, and had no majjor technical issues.

    Oh, and the presentation is outstanding.

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 14:31.
  6. Nigeyboy
    Member
    Since: Dec 2011

    I didn’t mean to buy the game after the news of the poor VR offering, but then it turned up in the post anyway, seems I preordered it back in Feb when it still sounded like they were putting the effort in.

    I’m a big fan of the GT series and the way it’s somehow way more addictive than standard arcade racers, I couldn’t wait to see them take VR racing up a level from Driveclub. For me regular Driveclub sucked, it just didn’t entertain, but in VR with a race wheel I’ve never had such a big smile on my face and the want to dive back in for another race. I had high hopes for GT sport, coming from a foundation way better than Driveclub should be amazing right.

    Obviously I knew those hopes had been dashed but I gave it a try anyway. What sucks is it’s actually really good. First race in and I’m ragging a VW Golf sidways through the chicanes having a great time. I’m thinking sweet let me have a Ferrari and race some more tracks. Then you realise there’s no progression in VR mode, there’s only 5 cars and 3 tracks to start with. I’m going to have to play this in 2D for hours to have any more fun in VR. Once you’ve played in VR, driving on the regular tv feels like a spectator sport, like you’re just watching someone else play the game. I don’t want to do that.

    GT VR is just a horrible tease that they could have made a great game if they could be bothered. Just going to have to keep waiting.

    My copy is going on eBay.

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 15:53.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Absolutely, but don’t be it on ebay just yet. You can level up really quickly by playing through the single player campaign and hitting a few achievements, and it quickly hands out faster cars for you to play around with for your own garage. You do also earn distance and mileage points from VR Tour, but it’s a slow, slow way to progress.

      Basically, while you’ve got it, you might as well try and get a bit more out of it.

      Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 17:29.
  7. leeroye
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    Wait, you have to have an internet connection to save your single player progress – did i read that right? What kind of nonsense is that!!

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 20:33.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      There is no single player progress, well not really anyway.

      Comment posted on 21/10/2017 at 01:10.
  8. KAMIKAZE-UK
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    I don’t think i can bring myself to get this just yet, so…quick question; What’s the best alternative to this on PS4, right now?

    Comment posted on 20/10/2017 at 22:10.
  9. planejoker
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    Project cars 2. Talking about project cars 2 maybe it wasn’t a bad game after all. GT sport is good but it’s very limited to single player, it’s a shame as I agree with others it’s ok racing online but 1 is you get people banging you out of the way, 2 is a pad user really going to be able to compete with a wheel racer as I’m sure it’s gonna be wheel racers who are more than likely come first in every race And 3 learner drivers are going to be racing in lobbys with experience drivers, I’ll be very surprise if many will ever come first in sport mode if I’m honest.

    Comment posted on 21/10/2017 at 02:25.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Sport mode categorises you based upon your skill, and only places you in races with other people of the same skill rating.

      I don’t think having a wheel actually makes much difference at all. What you’ll find is, the serious racers have wheels, because they’re serious about it. They win the races because they’re serious racers, not because they have a wheel.

      The banging you out of the way thing is the most frustrating of all, I hate it. Point being though, if you remain clean and get your Sr high, it will only match you with others with a good Sr, theoretically reducing the amount this will happen to you.

      Comment posted on 21/10/2017 at 09:12.
  10. Smallville2106
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    I’ve read a few reviews now and so glad I’ve waited to buy. Wouldn’t pay full price for such a bare bones game content wise.

    Comment posted on 21/10/2017 at 14:43.

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