Time played: 35 hours
Gran Turismo 7 is the latest in the long-running racing simulation series from developer Polyphony Digital, and after a couple of major delays, the game has finally exited the pit lane. It’s been worth the wait, as Gran Turismo 7 is easily the best game in the series to date, setting a remarkably high bar for all future racing sims to clear, including Forza Motorsport.
Polyphony addresses the biggest criticism of both Gran Turismo Sport and Gran Turismo 6, which both felt insubstantial at launch, by filling GT7 with cars and tracks from the get-go. It also supplements the racer’s sublime sim gameplay with moreish progression systems and plenty of incentive to try out ancillary modes like the returning Licence Centre, Mission mode, and the all-new Music Rally.
Gran Turismo 7 release date and price
- What is it? The latest racing sim from Polyphony Digital
- When can I play it? March 4, 2022
- What can I play it on? PS5, PS4
- Price: $69.99 / £69.99
Settle it on the track
- Masterful racing simulation
- Best-in-class DualSense haptic feedback
- Easy to grasp tuning system
Racing in GT7 is simply sublime, offering one of the most intricate and accurate racing sim experiences to date. Developer Polyphony Digital has done an excellent job in emphasizing each and every car’s unique feel. Crucially, whether you’re driving a Honda Civic, a souped-up Nissan GT-R or a Ford Mustang, each car looks and drives much as you would expect them to in real life.
If you’re playing on PS5, the DualSense wireless controller gets a real workout in GT7. The controller’s excellent haptic feedback is implemented beautifully here. You’ll feel resistance in the triggers as you brake and change gears. Every bump in the track, screeching of your tires and even the sweeps of your car’s windshield wipers are registered by the DualSense’s vibration, adding a greatly heightened sense of immersion in each and every race.
GT7 supports a wide variety of control options, too. You can, of course, stick to default analog stick controls for steering, but the game also supports a litany of racing wheels to elevate your racing sim experience up a notch. DualSense motion controls are also supported, and while they take some getting used to, tilting the controller to steer works shockingly well, to the point where it’s a genuine alternative to analog stick controls, and a more cost-effective option if you don’t own a racing wheel.
In many other racing sims, it’s tempting to pour your heart and soul into just a handful of vehicles, but GT7 challenges this by using race requirements to push you to try a huge variety of different cars. Not only does this mean you’ll have plenty of cars to play with, you’re also incentivized to sit behind the wheel of as many different cars as possible to better facilitate any given race’s entry requirements.
In one race you may be limited to one make of car or a specific model, or, using a particular set of tires, or keeping your PP threshold (a general measurement of how well your car performs) under a certain number. PP can be increased or decreased via the Tuning Shop, a place you’ll frequent throughout your solo racing career.
Buying new parts does become costly as you’re eventually required to meet higher PP thresholds, but more Credits are always only a race away.
A haven for motorists
- Plenty of modes to try
- Slick and charming menus
- Moreish progression
Upon booting up Gran Turismo 7 for the first time, one of the first things you’ll see is its eye-catching main menu; it’s set up like a picturesque countryside resort dotted with numerous pavilions. And it’s these pavilions through which you’ll access the bulk of GT7’s content.
You’ll be spending most of your solo career in the World Circuit, which is where you’ll find tracks, events, and championships across three continents - Europe, America, and Asia-Oceania. There are plenty of tracks to race on within each region, and each individual track contains multiple variants, so even if you’re racing in the same location, the track layout won’t necessarily be the same.
The variety of tracks on offer here is fantastic. GT mainstays such as the Tokyo Expressway and Trial Mountain circuit make a return, alongside real-world courses like Monza, Laguna Seca, and the notoriously lengthy Nürburgring.
Tying it all together is the Café - one of GT7’s best new features for solo players. The Café presents you with Menu Books that feature a number of objectives. Most of these will involve collecting a trio of cars from a particular set, such as a Porsche 911 or a rally car collection. You earn the cars by winning races and then turn them in at the Café to complete the set.
The Café’s Menu Books are a subtle tutorial, directing you to the different styles of races and cars making it a superb learning tool for those new to the series. The Café is also simply a lovely place to visit - its ever-cheerful owner, Luca, is especially eager to present a brief history of the cars you collect, and it’s a brilliantly charming way to incentivize filling your garage with all kinds of makes and models.
As you tick off Menu Books early on, you’ll gradually unlock the rest of the modes GT7 has to offer. The notoriously difficult Licence Center, of course, makes a return. GT newcomers and veterans alike will once again have their work cut out for them, as requirements for earning Gold trophies on each Licence Center objective remain as strict as ever. Still, it’s a great place to learn both the fundamentals and the intricacies of driving in GT7, and the extra rewards for earning Gold trophies could keep you coming back to shave milliseconds off your times.
There’s also a brilliant Mission mode if you’re looking to try your hand at some more novel objectives than the more straight-laced Licence Center. One has you swerving between vehicles to reach the front of the pack in a Volkswagen Beetle, for example, while another has you battling for first in a Willys Jeep on a bumpy offroad track. These are a brilliant distraction from the GT7 norm and also come with their own set of cars to earn through Bronze and Gold trophy progression.
Avid car collectors can also visit the used car dealerships, Brand Central and Legendary Cars, to buy new vehicles with Credits you earn while racing. And with well over 400 cars to collect, GT7 is a completionist’s dream.
Outside of the main menu, you’ll find the all-new Music Rally mode, which is essentially a set of courses that test you to drive as far as possible before the end of that stage’s music track. There’s only a handful of these at launch, and you can’t connect your own music libraries to the mode, but it’s a decent distraction if you’re looking for another set of Gold trophies to obtain.
Online - the true GT test
- Full online lobbies supported
- Sport Mode continues to be excellent
- Penalties could use some fine-tuning
If you want to escape GT7’s AI racers, you can jump online to pit your skills against other players. Full racing lobbies are supported, allowing you to create rooms, set criteria and race against friends and strangers both.
The main online attraction is the ranked Sport mode, returning from Gran Turismo Sport. This online mode lets you enter races staged at set times each day, all of which feature various entry requirements.
Progression in Sport mode is largely governed by two graded ranks. Driver Rank increases as you perform well and consistently finish races in higher positions. Though arguably more important is your Sportsmanship Rank, which will adjust based on your etiquette during races.
That means you’ll be penalized for deliberately ramming into other drivers or obstructing cars trying to overtake you. You’ll see your Sportsmanship Rank climb if you can keep your race record clean and avoid deliberately sabotaging other players.
The system isn’t perfect - we were penalized in one race when another driver rammed us into a barrier. However, both ranks are a decent indication of how well another driver behaves. For example, more aggressive drivers tend to have lower Sportsmanship Ranks.
Taking the scenic route
- Stunningly beautiful visuals
- Rock solid frame rate
- Scapes is simply one of the greatest photo modes
Gran Turismo 7 is, quite simply, one of the most gorgeous games on PS5. Tracks and vehicles, for the most part, look almost photorealistic, and environmental features like crowds, track markings, and background scenery are more detailed than ever.
The power of the PS5 allows for an additional ray-tracing mode, and besides its reduced frame rate, we’ve found no downsides to enabling the option. Ray-tracing isn’t actually enabled in races, only during replays and pre and post-race segments, but the results are truly stunning, adding realistic reflections to cars, puddles, and light sources.
Dynamic weather conditions and an active day/night cycle also add a dash of realism and unpredictability to your races. The time can transition from sunset to nighttime over the course of a single race, and weather conditions can alter when you least expect them, which can dramatically affect how your car handles. Rain, especially, has a detrimental effect on your car’s grip unless you’re packing a set of tires suited to wet conditions.
Additionally, each and every car features a unique cockpit view, with each rendered accurately to its real-world counterpart. There’s a breathtaking amount of detail here, from the shape of the steering wheel and dashboard logos to even onboard computers. The dash is also reflected in the windshield in certain lighting conditions, which is a superb touch.
Performance is also a huge plus in GT7, the game manages to hold a smooth 60fps most of the time. We did notice some occasional dips during online play in Sport mode, but nothing that came close to ruining a race.
GT7 also features an excellent soundtrack. Mixing original tracks with contemporary licensed tunes and fun remixes of classical music, there’s an eclectic selection here that blends surprisingly well with the thrums and roars of the cars.
Gran Turismo 7 isn’t just the best GT game, it's a racing sim masterclass brimming with a variety of modes and a huge number of cars to collect. The amount of high-quality solo content makes Gran Turismo 7 an essential purchase for any PS5 owner, and the game is accessible enough that newcomers should have an easier time than ever before getting to grips with what was previously a fairly intimidating racing sim.