Picture this. You’re racing on the iconic Suzuka Circuit in your Nissan Silvia. It’s been a good, clean race, and you’re edging on a podium finish with just a lap to go.
It’s a common occurrence in Gran Turismo 7’s online Sport mode, especially in the lower Driver ranks where competition is still surmountable. Down in the C and D ranks, Suzuka’s iconic Casio Triangle – a tight chicane situated at the end of the lap – becomes the mediator. A strict, near-90-degree curve can make or break your race.
That is, when GT7’s penalty system is working as intended. A year after release, it still doesn’t happen as often as it should. Instead, it’s far too common for you to pay for other drivers’ mistakes or – at worst – their deliberate attempts to knock you off track.
I love GT7, but after returning to Sport mode after a bit of a break, I was stunned to find out the game’s penalty system still needs work.
This takes me to why I brought up Suzuka’s Casio Triangle in the first place. I booted up my PS5 for some online GT7 races this week to find that the iconic Japanese race track was in rotation. Cool, I thought; Suzuka isn’t among my favorite tracks, but it’s a solid, intermediate circuit perfect for shaking off the rust.
And in my first race back, I find myself doing quite well. By my standards, anyway. After setting a painfully average qualifying time, I began the race toward the back of the pack. However, come the final lap, I was delighted to find myself bordering on a podium position. As we edge closer to the checkered flag, I race as well as I can, but one obstacle remains: the Casio Triangle.
Given the acute nature of the chicane’s first corner, hitting the brakes at the right time is paramount. Much like Monza’s opening Variante del Rettifilo chicane, the Casio Triangle is more than happy to put your hopes of victory on ice if not taken seriously. Or, if a rival driver has their own ideas.
So I’m approaching the chicane with a grimace, sandwiched between a car in front and behind. It’s a scenario prone to tragedy, and sure enough, that happened here. The car behind us either forgets to brake or hits them late, smacking square into the back of my Silvia. That causes my car to lurch forward and slam into the rear end of the driver in front, sending them spinning off track.
I say “sorry!” out loud, despite no one being able to hear me. And it turns out I may as well have shouted it into the vacuum of outer space, because it’s not the offending driver behind me that gets penalized. No, they get off scot-free. It’s me instead that has to bear the weight of responsibility. The game slaps me with a 3-second penalty right before the finish line, causing me to drop a few places in the final results.
In the moment of it all, I’m fuming. But for Gran Turismo 7, it’s a tale as old as time. Undone by someone else’s reckless driving, an otherwise excellent race unfairly burdens you with a penalty. I was more shocked that developer Polyphony Digital has done little to address its fundamentally flawed online penalty system.
Lack of drive
Gran Turismo 7 prides itself on sportsmanship; the act of racing competitively, but respectfully of your rivals. So much so that the game makes you watch a video on the concept before you can even access Sport mode for the first time. A little excessive, but sure.
And to their credit, there’s no shortage of drivers in GT7 who take this to heart. The problem is that the game isn’t too keen on applying its own standard. In my year of playing GT7, there have been countless instances of myself and others being penalized for the mistakes and poor sportsmanship of other reckless (and sometimes toxic) drivers.
Another driver shunts you into a barrier? Penalty for hitting said barrier. Have they tapped the side of your car long enough for you to clip an apex? Penalty for cutting the track limit. Caught up in a collision caused by one or two others? Penalty for ramming a car off the road. These are just a few examples of the possibilities, but Gran Turismo 7 has a nasty habit of penalizing non-offending drivers for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s frustrating that GT7’s penalty system is still in this state. I genuinely believe that the game is some of the most rewarding fun you can have online. But all it takes is one instance of that slapdash penalty system to throw you off your games completely.
I hope Polyphony can continue to fine-tune its penalty system, not just introduce half-measures like making them stricter or more lenient. Its community of racers who play by the rules deserve that much.