Gran Turismo Sport Hands On – Did It Lose Its Soul?

Chris Wray
Gran Turismo Sport update GT Sport 1.45

The obvious needs to be said. It's early days in development and Gran Turismo Sport will undoubtedly be improved when it's released. However, this release is something of a mystery, the game having being delayed into 2017 without a firm date.

I've got my concerns with Gran Turismo Sport. A lot of this comes from what time I got to spend with it on the EGX floor. I should say that I've been a fan of Gran Turismo now since the very first one. I attribute my love of the group Feeder from Gran Turismo 1 and, primarily, 3. It's a little awkward because I need to realize that this isn't a Gran Turismo game for me.

Anybody who's ever been a fan of the franchise will be able to tell you that Gran Turismo, despite its tagline of being a driving simulator, isn't a complete simulation. At least it didn't have to be. You always had that option of either going arcade racing, a good mixture of arcade and simulation to complete simulation. It's a marvel how Polyphony Digital managed to mix this and get it working as well as they have, particularly in the previous two major games. Things have gone backwards.

We've covered in the past missing features and promises of improvements and innovation coming into the series. What news we haven't covered before is what content the game will actually have. I'm viewing GT Sport as an almost complete reset of the series, a fear that seems to have been confirmed by head of CEO Kazunori Yamauchi a few months ago (translated by GT planet forum member Michael Chen).

The game has been reported to launch with 19 locations, providing 27 tracks. A third of what Gran Turismo 6 offered. There will be 140 cars at launch, barely more than a tenth of the 1000+ found in both 5 and 6. Even if you only include the premium cars, the number is still considerably lower. While everything is made to exacting standards and as much detail as possible, it leaves me wanting much more. The cynic in me worries that this was an intentional choice, considering the reveal that extra cars will come as DLC.

But what about my hands-on experience with the game? Well, as I mentioned at the start, I'm not sure this is the Gran Turismo for me. The game has gone complete simulation, which has never been what I consider the best part of the series. The ability to just pick up and play, have some fun arcade races, isn't something the game seems to want to show.

I understand that Gran Turismo Sport will feature both an arcade and career mode, as well as the sport mode. However, every setup when showing the game, be it E3, Tokyo Game Show or even now at EGX has been about the simulation. It's always been a stylistic show of creating a sort of car setup, not once have I seen the game played with an actual PS4 controller. It's always been with a wheel, or even the very brand new wheel which seems to have been designed specifically for the game.

The game doesn't feel finished, which explains the fact that the game was pushed back from November until an unknown 2017 date. When you actually play the game in their preferred setup, from the inside of the car, then everything looks brilliant. It's exquisitely detailed and the tracks look fantastic, aided from a reasonable touch of motion blur. I wasn't able to try it with the PSVR, but having used VR for other games (more on that later) I can only imagine how immersive it'll feel.

However, look at the game in motion from other cameras, or even specific angles when racing (I found myself spinning about quite a bit) and the graphics aren't that great. The cars show a number of jagged edges and the details on the track are lost beyond even a small distance from the car. I do expect there are limitations that have been taken into consideration due to the VR requirements. At the same time, I expected better of a brand new game. However, it's still in development.

It's the feeling you get with a game that matters so much more than most imagine. I just genuinely wasn't feeling it, though I saw quite a few happy people coming from trying it out. I asked a few people their impressions, only a small number had the same issue I had. Other, happier, people were looking forward to the competitive nature that comes with GT sport.

There's no doubt that I have my reservations about the game. Playing it has only increased those reservations and made me somewhat more bearish on the release. It hasn't forced me to cancel my pre-order of Gran Turismo Sport, as I want the Collector's Edition to go with my Signature Edition of GT5. I hope we'll see more of the arcade style racing in the future, because presently this stripped down version of Gran Turismo isn't much appealing to me.

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