Gran Turismo 7 Review – I’m in Love with My Car [Updated & Score Lowered due to Microtransactions]
Gran Turismo 74th March, 2022
Suppose somebody came up to me tomorrow and told me that I'm an incredibly sexy, intelligent and witty person. In that case, I'd think they were slightly exaggerating my qualities, were wanting something from me, and then I'd pay the relevant escort agency for the service of that fine person. Suppose somebody else came up to me and stated that the Gran Turismo 7 development team featured Roger Taylor heading up a group of people with mechaphilia; I'd believe that in a heartbeat while also telling them to get the hell off of my Hyundai.
Why is the latter believable? That's because Gran Turismo 7 has a near fetishistic obsession with cars, racing cars, the placing of your genitalia in the exhaust of a vehicle (which explains why the Tesla is rubbish), and the history of anything remotely linked to cars. This obsession isn't a bad thing, as you'll soon find out. It's something I'll be applauding. Some issues come with it, and I'll be getting into those too.
Let's talk time. Time is my first and foremost complaint regarding Gran Turismo 7. The series, outside of Sport, has never been one that goes quick. You've always started from the bottom and made your way up to the top, and you do that here, but never has it felt this railroaded. There is a cafe on the map that acts as the hub. In this cafe is an annoying person called Luca. Luca gives you a menu book with a task to complete; these tasks are nearly always to collect three cars gained from winning - or finishing in a particular position - of a race that has just been made available. Then you go back to Luca, and he talks at length about the type of cars you've just won.
It's okay; I get it, Polyphony Digital, you love cars. I imagine a few people playing Gran Turismo love cars as much as you. Still, the majority of people will be wondering why they need a bloody speech on french hatchbacks or Japanese FR drive cars before they're allowed to do the broom-brooms in another vehicle. Gran Turismo 7 claims you can do the game at your own pace, but this isn't entirely true because of the unlocking of races through your collectors level, the gaining of credits to buy cars you need, or upgrade them, being intrinsically tied to the cafe menus.
Simply put, progression in Gran Turismo 7 will either be glacially slow if you're going through the cafe or about as perceptible as continental drift if you're not. Yes, it speeds up the later you get in the game because more races are open, most of which aren't linked to Luca's ludicrous land-yacht look-see. It's just that you unlock more by raising your collectors level, and the easiest way to do this is by getting gifted cars from the cafe. The vicious cycle continues.
One thing I won't complain about, however, is the licenses. The same five licenses you've had in Gran Turismo games before are here again, and these licenses will be the bane of my life as I plug away for hours, just trying to get gold on every single one of them. The feeling I get as I manage to chip away one-hundredth of a second to get a gold is obscene, but it's like a drug, and I love it. Any sense of hard-earned accomplishment I love, and I can't deny that Gran Turismo 7 is full of this; it's just that getting to these parts can be too slow.
Let's stick with the negatives. Always online. Hopefully, people won't suffer from what's happened to me six bastarding times when the game is open to the public tomorrow. If the game drops its connection, for whatever reason, then you may as well not bother carrying on. That's if you know it's not connected. More than a few times, I've had to repeat races after being given my reward because the game has reverted to where it thought I was. I did four races at one time when the server had gone for a bit of sleep; I had to do all four again. Other times, which again I assume was down to the server; I'd lost progression from a race or two, here and there. In all, I would say I've lost at least two hours due to "always online".
It's nonsense. Polyphony Digital wants to use lines about it being there to stop people cheating, but there needs to be a better way. I don't even think it's for that. Sure, people could cheat progression in single-player and get access to the best cars, but when they're racing against people who have earned their way to those cars, the people who've put in the work are going to be better. It's just a way to track what you've done, where you're spending time, and the fact you have so many online links within the game is proof enough of this. Have this, be honest about it, and make your servers work.
Is there anything else? It's a bit rubbish that sharing things is more burdensome. Yeah, that'll do. Wait, no, music. Here's another thing Polyphony Digital, stop having crap soundtracks. Well, partly crap soundtracks. Gran Turismo one to four, a good variety and a lot of familiar music. Five, six, and now seven are stuck in a rut. Some variety, but they don't feel like the music belongs with cars. Stop taking ideas from Fast & Furious and get back to being the game that brought us this masterpiece of an opening.
It's possibly more annoying because there's a whole mode based around racing to the music. It's a time trial but based around the beats of a song. I can only imagine how good those events would be with excellent driving music: a personal gripe, subjective, but one I have nonetheless. Granted, the classical music playing outside of the races is undoubtedly in tune with the image it wants to give of cars. It's decent in the racing and better than most rubbish there.
That image is that cars are fun. It also wants to build the culture around cars, and it does this by extensively documenting the history of cars and companies that work with and around them. From looking at the museum of automotive history, something that the opening video of Gran Turismo 7 doesn't come far from showing. I'm not being facetious when I say this, but the intro of Gran Turismo 7 is somehow emotional. Classical music plays over pictures, videos, and events of the history of cars, and it's almost poignant that I couldn't live through those moments and breakthroughs.
Speaking of images, let's talk graphics. While racing, you won't be getting raytracing. That's fine, I genuinely don't care, and frankly, I don't need it. The game looks fantastic both in and out of a race. I'll rarely say that a game looks like real life, but I'll be honest and say that there are some shots where I could believe a photographer just took it from the trackside. This argument is even more true when looking at the scenes mode, where you can use ray tracing and every other effect to take some undeniably perfect shots.
It's no surprise that Gran Turismo 7 features a bit over four-hundred cars. That's because these cars have had even the smallest of details perfected. Tracks haven't got the same level of detail as the cars, which should be expected, but they aren't far behind. There's no doubt that when you get the tracks at different times of the day, particularly in various weather conditions, you get to see the real impact of the game's visuals. I'd put this down to the not-overly-extensive tracklist, around 90 courses drawn from a little under half the tracks.
So yes, Gran Turismo looks fantastic. It's not the most colourful game, it doesn't have the vibrancy of titles like Forza Horizon 5, but it's beautiful in that exquisite sort of way. Where somebody has taken the time to stop groping the car in front of them so they can see the precise location of a screw and get that put into the game, it's admirable, even if a little ostentatious.
We've talked about the bad and moved into the good, so what about the rest? That's good too. It's excellent, even if there are small things to be improved. I've mentioned the licenses and music rally; there are also challenges. Many of these have you to do anything from passing a certain number of cars to having to pass a certain number of cars. It's just the conditions and cars that are different. That may be a slight exaggeration, the challenges feel different, but it is a racing game.
When it comes to racing, Gran Turismo can truly shine. The DualSense controller is fantastic when it comes to this. Controllers have used rumbling, haptic feedback, and more to give you a sense of what's happening in the game before, but there's no doubt that this is a step forward. I'm not going to say it feels like you're driving the car and everything is feeding back through the controller, but it's certainly closer than any regular controller has come before. Only a wheel has offered a tighter feel in the past.
Having a tighter feel is just what you can say about almost every aspect of Gran Turismo 7. Gran Turismo may brand itself as "the real driving simulator", but nobody has ever believed that. It is a simcade racer, but every iteration comes closer to perfecting that line between simulation and arcade. I don't doubt for a second that Gran Turismo Sport, and its more narrow focus, has helped to drive the improvements of racing here. The physics are top-notch, each car feels unique in the way it handles the bends and straights, and this applies doubly so when you pop into the garage and make some adjustments.
From repeated aquaplaning on a rainy day, as you watch the water settle into dips and corners, to feeling the rumble as you edge just a little too close to the inside, there's something genuinely special about the racing here. I want to say I've tried it with a wheel, but I haven't - I expect to have a wheel with me in a matter of a few days, so more on that shortly. Still, from the racing I've done, it's just fantastic. I can't honestly say I've had a better on-track experience from a traditional racing game.
One other thing I want to return to is the whole culture around cars, the history. I'm not sure I like links in the game taking you to external manufacturers, etc. I've got no issue with highlighting the history of cars and companies. It makes sense to show when breakthroughs happened, showing other significant events in history so people can understand just how long automotive progress has been going. Hell, they've got the future of cars by including an electric vehicle, though I'd like to have seen more than the Tesla (unless I've missed them?).
Still, whatever I say bad about Gran Turismo 7, as I did at the start, there's so much in the good. I do wish it would learn to value people's time, but maybe I'm misremembering older games, and now that I have actual employment and less free time, It just feels as though the game is metaphorically pulling teeth at times. Outside of the teeth-pulling, it's a great experience. Take from that what you will.
Update 5th March: As you will see from the review, no mention of the microtransactions were made. This was because the cost of these was hidden. Now I know this, combined with something I did mention - the grind - I can't overlook this matter of concern. Much like my many complaints against Ubisoft for forcing grind into their recent games to sell the solution, this is certainly present in Gran Turismo 7. As such, I will be adjusting my score from 9/10 to 8/10, though I will say the many qualities still make it a great title, it's just a shame it's been plagued by terrible decisions.
PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Copy provided by the publisher.
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Gran Turismo 7 is an excellent game. It looks fantastic, with features like the photo and scapes modes, making the game look eerily photo-realistic. On the track, racing is top-notch. Every car feels unique; every change in the garage and every decision on the track matters. However, it doesn't mean there aren't issues. Always online requirements have failed me numerous times and lost progress when the servers have died; this is before launch. In addition to this, there's just a looming issue of time; the game doesn't value your time with the campaign (cafe menus), having it move at a glacially slow pace at best. Also, the soundtrack is atrocious. Still, whatever faults I find, they are far outweighed by overwhelming positives.
- Outstanding visuals, somehow even better when on scapes or photo mode - coming as close to photorealism as I've ever seen.
- Every car feels unique, and every change you make alters the car's feel.
- Weather conditions, track wear, everything changes the feel of a race.
- Good variety of modes across a decent number of tracks.
- A genuinely wonderful level of time and detail on the history and the culture of cars showing real passion from the developer.
- Always online aspects, and servers, bug out and often cause a loss of progress.
- A glacially slow campaign that doesn't value the player's time.
- A downright terrible soundtrack that honestly takes away from the game.
- Expensive microtransactions are put in to counteract the forced grind placed in the game.