Gran Turismo 7: A Love Letter To Cars
Is "The Ultimate Driving Simulator" still as good as advertised?
Right from the intro, it’s clear that Gran Turismo 7 continues the series’ tradition of writing a love letter to cars. Players are greeted with the history of automotive evolution over an eight-minute movie, after which they are thrown into the world of Gran Turismo. The appreciation and passion do not stop there, with each mode and area of the game meticulously crafted to cater to the most hardcore gearheads around. What other game would release a trailer about which brake pad company they will partner with?
Jumping into the game, the world map is the entry point to the rest of the game: a UI at the top with essential metrics and a plethora of locations that house different modes, shops, and challenges. It will take some time to unlock them all, as the game eases you into the other parts to ensure you can consume all the content. For this article, rather than deep diving into every aspect of the game, let’s look at the variety of ways you’ll interact with the main star of the modes: the cars.
The (Solo) Pursuit of Perfection
Understanding how a car works and feels is one of the most important aspects of racing. How it reacts to the forces and how a driver can gracefully maneuver it through any challenge the track may throw at them is a prerequisite for any winner. Luckily, Gran Turismo 7 is full of providing players with the correct methods of mastering their favorite vehicle in an intimate setting without the distractions of competition.
License tests, a series favorite and staple, return in Gran Turismo 7, and the tests are as challenging as ever. Spanning five licenses, these tests will ask drivers to navigate through various corners, braking zones, and lines to help them understand the basics of handling a car. Eventually, the Super License tests will challenge players with a one-lap time attack in the world’s fastest cars.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more unique, Mission Challenges offer a diverse set of driving situations that will test your skills and creativity, ranging from drag races, passing as many cars in a single lap, or traveling the furthest distance on a limited tank of gas. Although these are not necessarily the typical races that you would find in the majority of your time in Gran Turismo 7, they provide an almost puzzle-like experience for both beginners and seasoned players.
For an opportunity to learn how your favorite car behaves on a specific track (and be able to execute the perfect lap), the Circuit Experience across the game’s 35 different tracks will allow you to chase the best segment times (either for a specific sector or the whole lap) without the pressure of having to race against other drivers.
The Thirst for Competition
If perfecting every bit of the track by yourself isn’t your cup of tea, Gran Turismo 7 provides a plentiful amount of multiplayer and competitive experiences to suit every need.
One set of experiences is to play against CPU-controlled drivers, for which there is either a free play mode (setting up a race on any track with the details of your choosing), or the café missions, which are primarily races against the computer, outside the occasional collecting or photo-taking mission. However, with various difficulty settings that will cater to all drivers, there’s plenty of fun even without the competition against real-life players.
Alternatively, there are various methods to compete with other players across the globe or on the same couch. For folks that prefer local multiplayer, a simple 2-player split-screen mode will allow the duo to race across all the tracks the game offers. If you want to venture to online play, there are a couple more options, with free play lobbies, daily races, and tournaments that round out the choices.
With a ranking system and timely events where you could (theoretically) play against real-life motorsport drivers, the number of competitive modes and amount of content the game provides should be more than enough to carry to the next series entry.
One last note about multiplayer is the amount of significance that the game places upon proper driving etiquette. With online racing games often being lenient towards aggressive driving behavior, Gran Turismo 7 is clear with its expectations from its player base and enforces its rules. All players are presented with a video about racing etiquette before they can join a lobby and start competing. There is also an in-game system to track sportsmanship to ensure that aggressive drivers are put in a different pool from the good citizens.
A World of Cars
Let’s go back to the main character of the game, the cars. Once you start diving into the amount of care that went into the detail, customization, and depth of the mechanics, it’s clear that Gran Turismo 7 deserves its slogan of “The Real Driving Simulator.”
There will be a car for every player, with over 400 cars available to purchase across 20 manufacturers that span more than 80 years of automotive history. Developer Polyphony Digital continues to add in vehicles with its patches, which means it will be a long journey for the hardcore collectors. And aside from just buying the cars, the game is full of history and background for the machines and carmakers that ooze passion.
When it comes to the tuning and customization of the cars to make them your own, there is an endless list of changes that can be made. Aside from the performance upgrades that will soup up your car, liveries (for which you can make your own or download one that others have created), or other visual changes, the system is deep enough to build your dream car or replicate your real-life vehicle in-game. After you spend the time working on the look of your car, there is an extensive photo mode that will allow you to take the perfect shot across a vast list of locations worldwide with shooting options that even put DSLR cameras to shame.
The details go past just the looks, with some of the most advanced time and weather simulations yet seen. These allow the track to get wetter and drier in real-time (along with puddles where the water pools), which will change how the car feels as you drive. This challenge adds depth beyond memorizing each turn on the track, with the randomness adding a flavor to real-time decision-making.
How does the game communicate these subtle changes to the player? Outside of looking at the dashboard, the haptics and physical feel of the car is how the magic happens. For those that do not own a sophisticated racing setup, the DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5 delivers the right messages to understand how the car is doing. Whether it’s the adaptive triggers that emulate pressing down on the throttle and brakes or the haptic feedback through which you can feel the ground and pavement, the experience is as physical as it is visual.
A Bump in the Road
Not all is perfect with the game, as it has fallen victim to one of the most controversial features of modern games: microtransactions. Players will use a single currency in the game to purchase everything: cars and upgrades. It is clear the game has been tuned to incentivize either grinding races or buying the currency outright from the store with real money.
With controversial changes that have made grinding both harder and easier (with lots of strong player feedback in between), it’s the only scuff mark on a game that is otherwise of the highest quality.
From top to bottom, it’s clear that Gran Turismo 7 was made with a love and passion for cars. Looking past the hiccup with currency, it truly is an absolute pleasure to read through the love letter that Polyphony Digital has written to celebrate the world of cars.
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