Gran Turismo is an extremely important title for many car-obsessed millennials.
Ask any 20-something car enthusiast what helped spark their passion for cars and you’re quite likely to get ‘Fast and the Furious’ or ‘Gran Turismo’ as an answer – perhaps both. The series has undergone a major change in shifting from Gran Turismo 6 to Gran Turismo Sport, though – one that may push away these legacy Gran Turismo fans in favor of attracting those who may be less interested in cars and more interested in racing and eSports.
So what exactly is it about Gran Turismo Sport that might push away older fans of the franchise and attract new ones?
For starters, the massive selection of cars that Gran Turismo 6 boasted (a jaw-dropping 1,196 of them, to be exact) is gone. Polyphony Digital ditched the repetitive and largely redundant vehicle library that featured in former Gran Turismo titles in favor of a more focused selection. There are just five car classes, now: N, Group 4, Group 3 and Group 2 and Group 1. The ‘N’ class cars range in rating from N100 to N1000, with the numerical figure representing power output. Group 4 to Group classes are for purpose-built racecars, with Group 1 being the fastest and Group 4 being the slowest.
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Due to this, GT Sport has a larger selection of cars you might actually want to race (there are about 160 cars total). So rather than including something like a Honda Element just for the sake of it, GT Sport focuses on offering up real race cars. Many of the race cars are fictitious, and while we’d like to see more real-world race cars added in the future, we quite like Polyphony’s racing interpretations of cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C. We love the addition of the Vision Gran Turismo series of cars to the game too. While not for everyone, they provide an interesting glimpse into the future and help to make GT Sport feel like a passion project dedicated to the entire automotive industry.
There may be fewer vehicles than ever, but each of them is beautifully rendered and features highly intricate details. The interiors are also fully rendered – helpful for those who use a wheel and may prefer the interior view camera to the traditional chase camera. The engine and vehicle sounds are also a massive improvement over previous titles. Gone are the high-pitched vacuum cleaner noises of yore – the cars now sound much meaner and more accurate.
Another reason traditional Gran Turismo fans may be put off of GT Sport is the online aspect of the game. Many aspects of GT Sport require an internet connection to work as your single player mileage points and other rewards are the same as your multiplayer rewards. You can still participate in single player arcade mode races, but none of your progress will be saved. This is an online game through and through and is always attempting to entice you into multiplayer events and races.
With this narrowing down of the vehicle library and intense focus on multiplayer, Gran Turismo has morphed into less of a single player car collecting game and more of a sim racing game. That jives with Polyphony’s vision for it to be a leading eSports platform. If you ask us, they nailed the competitive multiplayer aspect of GT Sport. The online lobbies have strong connections, typically feature clean racing and are abundant at any time.
The officially sanctioned FIA ‘Sport’ events, meanwhile, are extremely well thought out and organized. Polyphony puts together official race series and events for serious sim racers (accessible through the ‘Sport’ tab in the main menu) which ensures these players have access to clean, fair lobbies with competitive racing. It’s by far the most serious attempt at organizing online-based eSports competitions for a racing game on console and really adds to the overall enjoyment if you’re a serious racer. Polyphony seems to be going all-in on eSports, too, so the well thought out and organized online events on GT Sport likely serve as the basis for future eSports ventures from Kazunori Yamauchi and his team.
Polyphony is way ahead of the game in regards to racing eSports. GT Sport was launched last October and one year later, we’ve seen the launch of a high-profile F1 eSports league, and massive interest in a sim racing on YouTube. They got in at the right time and did it right, which will pay off with long-term interest in GT Sport and other Gran Turismo titles, we think.
Minor Improvements to be Made
While we’re impressed with the online racing and graphics, there are a few improvements we would make to GT Sport if it were up to us – with both regards to single player and multiplayer. First off, while some of the fantasy tracks are fun to drive, we’d appreciate more real-world tracks — especially high-profile ones like Laguna Seca or Silverstone, for example. If you use a wheel, you may find the force feedback a bit rubbery at points, so more communicative steering feedback would be nice. It’s also strangely easy to lock up the brakes if you turn off ABS, which makes late braking a bit of a struggle.
We also think the automotive history lessons that appear on the home menu, along with the highly in-depth ‘Scapes’ photography mode, are a bit misplaced on the online-based sim racing platform GT Sport is trying to be. We like these features an appreciate and share Polyphony’s love for cars, but they do seem a bit misplaced on a title so intently focused on the competition of racing instead of the vehicles themselves.
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So while GT Sport is a major step away from the single player car collecting and modifying experience Gran Turismo 6 offered, it achieves the goal of being a well polished, highly organized and high-quality online sim racing eSports platform. We appreciate that as sim racers, but also recognize that many Gran Turismo fans want an experience that’s more related to Forza Motorsport than an online based sim like iRacing. GT Sport represents a shift in philosophies for the title, so it was always bound to alienate some, but there’s a huge market of sim racers that got exactly what they were looking for with the game. Come for the nicely rendered cars and tracks, stay for the clean racing and abundant online lobbies.
Our Final Verdict
A traditional Gran Turismo title it’s not, but Gran Turismo Sport succeeds in being a well-run sim racing platform for console. And with online racing eSports becoming more and more popular as of late, it seems that Polyphony Digital released this title at just the right time. We’d appreciate more real-world cars and tracks, but it’s still undeniably fun to race in GT Sport – especially in multiplayer.
All photos in this article courtesy of Polyphony Digital
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|Single Player Experience||6.0|