Gran Turismo Sport Sounds Like Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, And That's a Good Thing
It seems to me that if there's one genre that has been underrepresented during this current generation of consoles, at least thus far, it's racing games.
Of course, that's not to say there hasn't been any racing games: there was DRIVECLUB for the PlayStation 4, Forza Motorsport 6 for the Xbox One, and the more hardcore racing sim Project CARS for both platforms. And, to be fair, Assetto Corsa looms on the horizon. But it just doesn't feel like there's been a generation-defining racing game yet.
In other words, what's been missing--especially for PS4-centric gamers like myself--is Gran Turismo. The iconic series has sold over 76 million copies since its debut in 1997, but hasn't been heard from since the release of Gran Turismo 6 for the PS3 in 2013. The upcoming release of Gran Turismo Sport, then, provides perhaps the best opportunity for a legitimately great racing game that we've seen during this console generation.
At first glance, though, the game sounds unlike any entry in the Gran Turismo series to date. There's an emphasis on online competition, with two ongoing championships: a manufacturer's cup, and a national one. The focus on online play sounds particularly foreign compared to the olden days, when earlier entries featured dozens upon dozens of hours of single-player content.
Upon closer inspection, however, Gran Turismo Sport closely resembles one of its predecessors in many regards, which is an encouraging sign.
The prior entry in question is Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2. While it featured less content than both Gran Turismo 2 and Gran Turismo 4, it marks an important point in the series as a whole, demonstrating the level of detail the new hardware could handle. It also remains perhaps my favorite entry in the series, as comfortable to return to as an old pair of shoes, even to this day.
You might be wondering how two games 15 years apart can truly be that comparable to one another, but their circumstances are eerily similar. Both games, for example, are the first entries in the series on their respective consoles. And oddly enough, both feature about the same amount of content. According to the official site for Gran Turismo Sport, the game will include around 140 vehicles and 19 tracks (with 27 layouts). By comparison, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec included approximately 180 vehicles and--wait for it--19 tracks.
It's true that Gran Turismo 2 (around 500 vehicles) and Gran Turismo 6 (a thousand or more vehicles), shown above, featured significantly more content than the games that came after them. But one could argue that having fewer cars isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, in both cases this meant that Polyphony Digital had to prioritize as many unique cars as possible, rather than featuring five or six variations of the same vehicle. And it's also true that 140-180 cars is still more than other racing games, like Project CARS and Assetto Corsa, are generally offering these days.
In other words, by going for a smaller roster of cars and tracks, Polyphony has opted to emphasize variety over repetition, which should appeal to every kind of racing fan.
And the smaller roster of cars and tracks presumably means that greater attention is paid to each one in turn, resulting in an even more realistic and enjoyable racing experience.
Historically, games like Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec prove that principles such as "less is more" really do contain some amount of truth. And if nothing else, Gran Turismo Sport, like its much older counterpart, may set the groundwork for something even better, as Gran Turismo 3 did for Gran Turismo 4. Only time will tell.
Gran Turismo Sport is scheduled to be released on November 15.