Hands On With Gran Turismo Sport

High octane expectations.

This could have been called Gran Turismo 7, Kazunori Yamauchi admitted yesterday during a round table interview. Of course, it’s not, and the ‘Sport’ in the title points toward how Polyphony Digital see the game and the genre evolving, but it could have been a numbered entry quite easily.

On the plus side, it’s given Polyphony license to cut ties to a lot of the weaker parts of Gran Turismo on the PlayStation 3. All of those hundreds of cars that had been ported forward from the PS2 have been banished, and even the Premium cars that were meticulously crafted for GT5 and GT6 are gone. Instead, there are 137 cars in the game at launch, all of which have been recreated as “Super Premium Cars” for the PS4, and all of which have interiors for those who love to race in first person. Put into perspective, Project CARS shipped with 65, while arch-rival Forza 6 featured 450.

Despite the game’s name, there’s the same eclectic mix of everyday road vehicles, through to GT3 and on to the absolute pinnacle of racing technology. These real world cars are mixed in with refreshed versions of the Vision Gran Turismo prototypes that were created for Gran Turismo 6, with everything shuffled, somewhat unusually, into four rough categories, from GR.1 at the top end, to GR.3, GR.4 and then N-Series for road cars.

Getting them out on track at this moment in time is an exercise in disappointment and a chastening lesson in the vagaries of game development. You read stories about how Uncharted 4 was a mess of a game six months before release, and Gran Turismo Sport is bearing that burden as well. The frame rate is far from smooth, there is more than a little bit of tearing on show, shadow and scenery pop in is very noticeable, and the chainlink fences around the Nurburgring Nordschleife flashes white as you drive around.

At full 1080p, it’s still a lot cleaner and sharper, with higher resolution textures, better lighting and so on, but it retains that very clinical look that Gran Turismo games have clung to over the past decade. This will far from eclipse the sublime graphics on show in Driveclub, but while it’s churlish to make such comparisons, given the different target frame rates, those are the kinds of expectations that could be heaped onto Polyphony’s shoulders.

GTSport-IL1

The performance will improve – and has to if there’s to be any hope of VR support – but what’s less likely to change before launch is the actual gameplay. Love it or loathe it, this is not a significant departure from Gran Turismo 6. In fact, the above caveats aside, Sport looks and feels like an improved version of that game in many ways, as I took to the Nordschleife and Brands Hatch.

The handful of relatively downforce heavy cars that I tried handled perfectly well, whether on wheel or pad, and it’s building on the years of expertise that Polyphony have built up for the physics model. That it doesn’t wow is perhaps a testament to the physics and handling from the series’ last outing.

When it comes to the game modes, the shift away from the single player side of the game is masked by a campaign that seems like an attempt to educate players in how to race. That’s always been the case with the licenses of previous games, of course, but this is geared towards online play. The Beginner’s School segues into the Circuit Experiences, which help you to learn specific sections of tracks, before you embark on race missions and are then tutored on racing etiquette.

That’s obviously important, given the new eSports focus and the expansion of the online functionality. The collaboration with the FIA is groundbreaking for the genre, but for the 99%, it will look to include everyone with a system of divisions for you to compete in. For the best racers – those who might vaguely consider going for a Gran Turismo Digital License – their skill will be recognised by progressing through regional finals and being able to compete in the Nations Cup and/or Manufacturers Cup for an FIA sanctioned award.

A lot of this will be streamed along the way, with the climactic races from each championship weekend to be broadcast live. I’m not sure that there’s quite the same appeal to watching a live Gran Turismo race, as there is to sitting down for an F1 grand prix, but even at a glance, the observer mode has been improved immeasurably, with cars clearly marked by the player details that hover above them. They can, of course, gain a little more individuality with the game’s livery editor, a first for the series.

That livery editor is possibly the only example of them bowing to popular demand. Alongside interesting curiosities like the new Scapes photo mode, that blends the real world with the digital in a truly impressive fashion, the Museum and the new Car Dealership which glorifies cars and their history, it’s quite clear that Polyphony will continue to forge their own path in the racing sim genre.


Last night saw a lot of details come out about Gran Turismo Sport. Head over here for all that we now know about the game.

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21 Comments

  1. How the entire franchise is being handled smacks of stubbornness and an inability to address the failings that feel like they’re as much a part of the franchise as the benefits. I realise that Polyphony have a vision but surely they also need to see what’s going on out there as well once in a while.

    Pigheadedness is an ugly trait and I can’t help but feel like they’re no longer the pinnacle of motorsport on the PlayStation. So many other franchises have caught up with them and the unassailable lead that once was is both literally and metaphorically in the rearview mirror.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I love what they’re now trying to push. I think it’s an inspired decision (FIA, etc.), just that other top-level decision making/progression looks to be almost non-existent.

      • Depends at how you look at gt. Gt in terms of driving simulation is the best game out there hands down. Project cars was a nice solid attempt but in terms of unique car handling, physics etc it was lacking.

        But racing, it has been one of its weaker aspects and even in the glory days of gt3, the racing wasn’t the best out there.

        I hope that improves and pushing towards sport suggests just that. It also helps that grab turismo prints money for Sony. Gt5 when released sold very well and gt6 though not as successful sold very well in mainland Europe.

        Be interesting to see how it compares and plays not only against forza but gt5 and 6

      • I can see what you mean. There are parts of the GT franchise that are still head and shoulders above the rest but the softer side, as such, seems so poorly neglected and I see no reason why the two remain mutually exclusive. I can’t help but think GT can sort out the stuff that still plagues the franchise (admittedly not to a hugely detrimental degree) and have a game that absolutely conquers all.

    • It’s sad but I agree with you 100%

      Plenty of realistic sims that are more modernised and better in many aspects.

      When you look at the jump between Forza 5 to 6, the independent Project Cars, and with Assetto Corsa coming to consoles soon, Polyphony come up lacking. If the physics are the same as GT6, no damage, what have they been doing for 3 years?

      Esports will give GT an edge, but if the core game is average, will it take off?

  2. It might have been franchise suicide had they called it GT7. What I’ve seen of the game makes it seem like a bumper sized prologue rather than a fully fledged next game in the sequence.

    How much better were the physics? Was there a better sense of weight/body roll, and tyre performance (i.e. camber, friction, contact patch), or just a polish up of what we’ve had before in GT6?

    • As well as the physics there’s also the question of car damage, does it look real, effect handling etc.

      • Didn’t see any evidence of damage at all last night, and there were some mighty crashes. Just looked like the usual bumper car bounce. I’m sure they’ll include the mechanical damage from GT6. It’s a moot point though with the licensing etc.

      • There wasn’t any damage in what was shown yesterday, either on the stream or in the playable demos.

        As for the physics, determining all of that from playing a few races on demo booths is difficult. To me, it felt like Gran Turismo 6, which is still pretty great, but not too pronounced with regard to things like body roll from weight transfer – that depends on the car, though.

      • Thanks Stefan, that gives me an indicator of what to expect.

  3. What I saw last night, looked ok to me, but not as good as other racers I enjoy. From spectator view I didn’t have the impression these were real cars of about a ton each, but rather cardboard versions, wobbling along.

    Of course, Driveclub is a different type of game, but that appeals more to me, and in my view also looks better (which can, of course, be due to my limited view of the new GT, and it’s developmental stage).

    I’ve only recently started up Gran Turismo 5 on my PS3, and probably due to my extensive play time with Driveclub meanwhile, I was very disappointed and think it hasn’t aged well at all.

    I can’t help but feel it’s quite a shame that Evolution have almost gone out of business, while Polyphony gets along with not innovating much and still getting tons of sales, due to the established GT franchise. Let’s see what the game will be like when it launches.

    • Driveclub’s at 1080p30, GTS aiming for 1080p60. There’s a big difference in what you can achieve when you settle for half the frame rate.

  4. Apart from the sentence in the sixth paragraph I’ve heard no mention of PSVR support. I would have thought that this game, as one of PlayStation’s top IPS, would be one of the top reasons to by the HMD.

    I just hope Sony are holding back the info until E3, fingers crossed!

    • They’ll need to hit a rock solid 60fps for PSVR support. They’ve already talked about wanting to have it in the game and have working prototypes in dev, so it’s whether or not they can do 60fps. Kaz hedged his bets on it a little yesterday.

      • I thought they must be at least be looking into it as it would help to sell a few more HMDs. I hope they get it sorted for launch.
        Cheers Stefan.

  5. Looks great! Gran Turismo games are always solid, some better than others but I think we can rely on getting our money’s worth in terms of beautiful and accessible sim racing. For me Poliphony have always offered us a major selling point, it started with the amazingly realistic handling, then volume of content, then graphical excellence, then GT Academy. I think my problem now is that I don’t know what the new thing is, Sport does look gorgeous but it’s not that much more impressive than Forza, Driveclub and Project Cars. If they can pull off both 4K at 60fps and VR for whatever comes after Sport then I’ll be blown away, I think they need one of those things shipping with Sport to really impress.

  6. I don’t like the mention of “super premium cars. Makes me worry that GT7 will have standard (PS2/PSP), premium (PS3), and super premium (PS4) car models.

    At least Turn 10 understood the importance of having all cars of the same quality.

    It’ll be interesting to see how GT7 will compare to Forza 9. :-P

    • “All of those hundreds of cars that had been ported forward from the PS2 have been banished, and even the Premium cars that were meticulously crafted for GT5 and GT6 are gone. Instead, there are 137 cars in the game at launch, all of which have been recreated as “Super Premium Cars” for the PS4”

  7. Visually, it looks great, but I think with Forza 6 Apex coming to PC, Polyphony really need to up their game. The last couple of releases have felt stale, and although the eSports push is interesting, I don’t think it’s the game changer people want to see.

  8. only 150 cars is a bit of a kick in the teeth.
    They could at least include the old ps3 premium cars, they were of astounding quality and still stand up today

  9. To be fair I’ve stuck with the franchise through thick and thin and reaped rewards beyond comprehension regarding gaming satisfaction but I think that it could be time to step back and just appreciate the series thus far that I’ve enjoyed from way back at it’s first incarnation.
    I don’t get much chance to play online anymore, which is where the crux really is at in a game like GT.

    Never say never though eh? ;)

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