Gran Turismo 7 Review: An Instant Classic
It has been over four years since we last got a new Gran Turismo, but the time has finally come to see what Polyphony Digital has been working on all this time.
Gran Turismo 7 is the latest realistic driving simulator, but it is also so much more than that. With this release, Polyphony Digital have essentially revived the Gran Turismo series by focusing on all aspects that make a racing game great. From the smooth but technical gameplay to the thousands of customization options, Gran Turismo 7 has pretty much everything you would want from a racing game.
With Gran Turismo 7, the developers have found a fitting way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series by releasing arguably the best entry in the franchise.
Gran Turismo 7 Review: An Instant Classic
As a realistic driving simulator, Gran Turismo takes itself very seriously by introducing many mechanics to learn and master. This doesn't make it necessarily difficult for beginners, but it does require you to be much more precise when driving.
Such real-to-life mechanics make GT7 stand out as one of the few realistic yet accessible racing games available. And that's not to mention the breathtaking visuals and photorealistic graphics that set it apart from the competition, even on last-gen hardware. All this helps further elevate the smooth driving experience that Gran Turismo 7 offers.
Welcome to The Café
When you’re not on the racecourse, you'll be spending most of your time in Gran Turismo 7’s Café. At the Café, you’ll be given Menu Books, which are lists of objectives to complete. These act as the main campaign missions and reward you with new cars, credits, and parts once completed.
By introducing The Café, GT7 seamlessly takes you through the basics without making things feel like an unnecessarily long tutorial; there is a lot to learn in Gran Turismo 7 and this setup can keep players from getting overwhelmed when first jumping in. With that in mind, though, Gran Turismo 7 doesn’t give you access to many of its features and modes right away. Instead, new modes and options become available gradually as you progress.
Gran Turismo 7 also adds a new progression system called Collector Level, which increases as you add more vehicles to your collection. Leveling up unlocks new rewards such as vehicles, cosmetics, and credits. However, this renewed focus on building a vast collection of cars comes at a price because you're limited to what you can do with your vehicles. Selling cars is no longer possible and discarding unwanted vehicles is only possible with duplicates.
In terms of customization, there is a lot of depth here, with access to hundreds of different tuning parts. You can upgrade parts of your car to increase its top speed, reduce its weight, and improve its tire traction, for example. To simplify things, the PP (Performance Points) system sums up the different aspects of your car, such as weight, engine power, and more. While tuning requires some attention to detail, picking the upgrades that increase your car’s PP the most is a viable strategy.
Buying new cars and upgrades does require in-game credits, but those can be earned and are quite easy to come by without needing to shell out any extra cash.
As you progress through the Menu Books from the Café, you’ll be required to start taking and passing License Tests. These License Tests are meant to teach you essential driving skills, such as braking and cornering. There are five different licenses, and they become increasingly more difficult as you progress through them, especially if you’re aiming for gold on each. While these can be frustrating at times, License Tests can be more addicting and beneficial than the actual races themselves.
Once you feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know about Gran Turismo 7, you'll get the chance to go head-to-head with other players online. If you’ve been relying on assists for braking and steering, you’ll instantly notice the difference in skill level between yourself and others. Still, multiplayer is catered to casual players, so you don’t need to be a hardcore player to enjoy this mode.
The developers have even included a 2 Player Split Screen mode for those looking to compete with their friends in intense couch co-op matches. The Sports mode, on the other hand, is much more competitive and enforces a strict set of rules that requires clean driving from all racers.
Apart from GT Café, The Music Rally is a casual game mode where you must cover as much distance as possible before a song ends, while also reaching checkpoints before time runs out. Music Rally doesn’t really offer anything special, but it does give you the chance to take a break from the more competitive modes if you're looking for something a bit more casual.
You’ll start the race at the very back and have to fight your way past the other cars to reach the front. Zooming past the competition is relatively easy as the AI is prone to making mistakes for you to take advantage of. For most of the races, I was able to reach the second position after the first lap without much effort. Overtaking the cars at the front, however, does require smart driving as they will fight you for the top spot.
Another fun detail is that the weather conditions and temperatures will change based on the actual weather in the region where each track is located. Wet tracks and puddles can seriously affect your tire grip and overall performance if you don’t have the right upgrades. There are 90 tracks on 34 circuits in total, each with varying weather effects.
Gran Turismo 7 Review — The Bottom Line
- Photorealistic visuals and accurate car designs.
- Impressive campaign mode with lots to do.
- Tons of tuning and customization options.
- Plenty of fun modes to check out.
- Some framerate drops when navigating menus on PS4.
- Casual players may feel overwhelmed at first.
Gran Turismo 7 strikes the perfect balance between accessibility and realism in a way that caters to casual players and veterans. It's a gorgeous racing game with a surprisingly addictive gameplay loop thanks to the new Café and Menu Books systems. While some modes are certainly not as strong as others, Gran Turismo 7 checks almost all the boxes of what a driving simulator should be.
[Note: Sony Interactive Entertainment provided the copy of Gran Turismo 7 used for this review.]