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Gran Turismo 7 review: An unbeatable racing experience, shame about the PS5 ray-tracing

While some features are limited, the franchise has returned to its former glory

Jennifer Allen
Wednesday 02 March 2022 11:13
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<p>From new modes to visuals, the Gran Turismo series returns to its former glory</p>

From new modes to visuals, the Gran Turismo series returns to its former glory

It’s been five years since we last saw a Gran Turismo game and it’s been even longer than that for those who were disappointed by Gran Turismo Sport’s arrival on the PlayStation 4.

Promising to be a more accurate example of the franchise comes Gran Turismo 7. Now, it’s here and comes flying around the track just at the same time as Elden Ring – the open-world action RPG from the makers of the much-loved gaming series, Souls.

Curiously, there’s some similarities here with both games promising a more hardcore experience than you’d see elsewhere within their respective genres.

There’s new modes and additions which aim to bring some structure to the relatively freeform nature of the title, but it’s still less flashy than anything the Forza series provides. However, in the past, that understated nature has always put the series in good stead for promising a more “pure” experience for petrolheads keen to see the cars be the focus.

With so much riding on its success and fans desperate to finally see the Gran Turismo series return to its former glory, we grabbed our driving gloves, a PS5 controller, and jumped straight into collecting cars once more.

Read more:

How we tested

We tested using a PS5 copy of the game and played for around 20 hours, testing out all its modes, as well as spending considerable time tuning our cars.

‘Gran Turismo 7’: £69.99, Playstation.com

Rating: 8/10

Story/campaign

While Gran Turismo 7 doesn’t have a story in the traditional sense, it does offer some structure. Following a video that lays out the history of the modern car, it starts out with a world map of menus. It’s a glorified menu system but as you unlock new features, you see how expansive it is.

Crucially, amongst the usual familiar features like a new, user and legendary car dealer, tuning garage, and (in time) a car wash station, is the café. A new feature that provides some form of structure to the game, it’s described as a form of quest system, which has players unlock framed photos of their acquisitions, all through completing certain objectives.

The objectives can be acquiring a few cars via finishing in the top three of certain races, or it can be through earning a new and better license than before. Complete the menu book as it’s referred to and the campaign is effectively finished, but that’s hardly the point of the game. It’s just a nice extra to aim towards, especially for newcomers to the franchise.

Gameplay

The focus for Gran Turismo 7 is instead on simply enjoying the experience. There are over 400 cars to collect ranging from a humble Honda Fit Hybrid players are likely to start out with, right up to Teslas, Ferraris, Bugattis, and mostly anything else one could think of. The satisfaction comes in working through the ranks.

The range of over 400 cars to collect range from Teslas to Bugattis

At first, races are between slow and relatively cumbersome vehicles. Gradually, money is accrued, new cars can be bought and tuning parts can be utilised. From there, things get harder, faster, and much more satisfying.

As with other games in the franchise, tuning is a key part of the gaming experience. There’s near limitless potential here with some adjustments immediately boosting horsepower or lowering the weight of a vehicle, while others are more subtle and connected to how your driving style works.

Even needing to change tyres between races is important to get the most out of your vehicle, with the difference between comfort or sports tyres, as well as hard or soft, making a noticeable impact when driving.

All of this is before you even dive into the car’s settings ahead of a race. It’s possible to tweak the suspension and differential gears, before hitting the “measure” button which simulates the effects in real time, giving you insight into what to expect.

Read more: 15 best PS5 games for every kind of player

Driving is a truly distinctive experience depending on your setup. Besides the extensive array of tuning options, Gran Turismo 7 also offers up extensive control options. Race difficulty can be tweaked making the AI cars faster or more competent, but also it’s possible to add or remove various assists.

By that we mean, players can choose to have a manual or automatic gearbox, have driving line assistance, and a plethora of other aids. It makes the game far more welcoming to new players while enabling them to gradually take the virtual training wheels off as they master things.

Unlike other racing games though, Gran Turismo 7 still requires a certain amount of skill even with the maximum aids enabled. It’s still perfectly possible to spin off the road, and clipping an opponent frequently spells disaster just as it would in reality. Each victory is typically hard earned unless you “grind” out some extra money to soup up your vehicle. Even then, many tracks have a performance point (PP) limit so you can’t end up too overpowered in any one race.

At all times, it’s satisfying. That’s improved by the use of the DualSense controller. Its adaptive triggers means you feel more in control with each press making a key difference. Haptic vibrations add further feedback while sound comes through the mic at times, again making you feel more part of the experience.

Visually, it’s 34 different track locations are gorgeous

Merely racing solo feels like scratching the surface of how easily you can lose yourself on Gran Turismo 7’s world map.

Besides the 34 different track locations with 90 different layouts (including fan favourite, trial mountain), there’s a lot more that can be done here. Players can dive into scapes, taking photos of their car from a variety of different angles and, as expected, there’s a dazzling array of options for those who know their photography.

Alternatively, a livery editor ensures your car stands out from the crowd – ideal before diving into the game’s multiplayer. The latter involves a lobby system or two player split-screen which is a rare inclusion in an increasingly online multiplayer focused world. A series of increasingly difficult missions are available for drivers that like a challenge, while there’s also Gran Turismo’s famous license centre that’s essential to complete for progressing to harder races.

Read more: The upcoming PS5 games to expect in 2022

Visually, it all looks gorgeous too – even if ray-tracing is only available when not actually racing, such as in photos or when watching replays. Despite that omission, the game still looks great with dynamic weather further helping add to the challenge and the spectacle.

Buy now

The verdict: ‘Gran Turismo 7’

Gran Turismo 7 is a vast racing game. It might lack the instant sparkle of an arcade racing game, but it’s an experience that lasts much longer and feels more rewarding. Mastering a track with a newly tuned car feels good and well earned. Lack of true ray-tracing will disappoint some PS5 owners looking to show off their console, and the menu systems are pretty drab at times, but when racing, there’s little else quite like it.

Gran Turismo 7

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