Gran Turismo 7 is a Masterclass in Driving Simulators – Review

In the latest Gran Turismo 7 release the team come out fighting against heavy competition from other franchises like Forza Horizon and Need for Speed and landed some heavy punches. So much that it might even be the off the track gameplay rather than the racing that actually makes it the best.

From a visual and technical point of view, the game is a masterclass in racing simulators. The intensely realistic graphics of the vehicles shows the power of modern consoles and the gameplay is delivering more precision than ever before.

As soon as you load the title it’s all on display with a cutscene interwoven with credits that go for around 8 mins showing the evolution of cars throughout history at the same time preparing you for the same evolution in the game. It’s just a pity that you can’t skip it on the first run as I was just eager to get in and play the game.

Gran Turismo sets the tone early that you are going to need to run at the pace of the game and you don’t want to rush anything. Take your time, learn the ins and outs and enjoy the hard work that has gone into making such a powerful tribute to vehicle culture around the world. 

After the credits, you roll on to a round of “Music Rally”. This arcade mode is a race against the clock (a music track) while gaining more time by travelling through checkpoints. You can keep going back in and trying new tracks with more being added later. The music on offer isn’t all that exciting or impressive but the mode itself is fun and solid. I imagine as more tracks are added hopefully we see more current artists taking part.

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo 7 Career Mode

Career Mode has a specific European feel around it, with a cafe at the centre and everything else springing up around it. The Cafe is where you begin your adventure and learn about buying cars, your garage and racing. You’ll also meet some people here who will give you the history of the vehicles you gain along the way making it really educational and interesting. Car enthusiasts will probably know a lot about what you are being told, but I didn’t know much at all, so each bit of information was really welcome. You might be driving, but at times let the game take you for a ride, you won’t regret it.

Gran Turismo 7 is all about inclusion by making sure that there is a difficulty setting that will allow the most novice player to enjoy the ride but also allow freedom of control so that the most advanced player can set out to beat the best times. Having this type of range is what makes it a great experience for everyone.

On the track the precision racing experience is immaculate. For the first time I can remember some damage is visible on the car but only some so as to not turn it into a demolition derby and having the focus more on driving skills. Guides are there to help you take turns more effectively and you can also turn on a brake assist, but the experience is better without them once you get the hang of it.

One thing I don’t understand is why you always start at the back of the pack in a rolling start. There are options for a grid start from an idle position but in the career racing experience, you are always at the back turning it into a chase rather than a race. Every race makes you the underdog fighting for the first position and making it feel more arcade than a simulator.

Where the game excels for me is in the Pokemon style “gotta catch them all” feel to collecting the vehicles. There are 400 or so cars to collect either through gifting in races, buying in the shops (in-game credits) or via the roulette tickets you earn which for me so far have never landed on the vehicle offered, just the coins. 

Having real-world cars gives you a great point of reference for just how realistic the game is, and collecting them means finding your dream cars and then modifying them as racing vehicles. So much fun and really easy to get a handle on, you don’t need to be a mechanic to figure it out.

Gran Turismo 7

Weather Effects, Affect Everything

The weather effects are absolutely world-class. When it’s raining, visibility is low and the rainfall feels like real-life weather. Your wipers will automatically come on and the road is affected. It’s just beautiful. It’s especially great when you play a two-leg race on the same track when one day is bright and sunny while the next is stormy and dark. This breakthrough in weather effect will hopefully be adopted by other games in the future creating a much more immersive experience.

Ray Tracing is included in the game but used sparingly for a better gameplay experience. In Ray Tracing mode the effect is limited to race replays and 3D scenery modes. The feature is disabled in actual races where your response time is important to the overall game experience. Where it really makes an impact is in the photography modes where there is a professional level of control over the image. Hours of fun just there alone.

I’m not a car guy, I like them and I enjoy the odd racing game but usually, Mario Kart is my jam rather than a full racing sim. Gran Turismo 7 has the balance to not only impress me but also make me want to keep going back in to collect more vehicles and compete on the track even though I’ve got other options of games to play that are more in my usual wheelhouse. 

It’s an outstanding visual, technical and gameplay experience that is made by people who have a true passion and understanding of the automotive industry.

Now that I’m hooked, my next stop might be the racing wheel and pedals, although the Dual Sense controller handles it just fine.

Gran Turismo 7 scores a  9.5 out of 10 and is available now on PlayStation.

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