Gran Turismo Sport reviewed
The Gran Turismo franchise has long been deemed to be the definitive racing simulator – at least, as far as the PlayStation platform is concerned. Most purists would even consider Gran Turismo to be the antithesis of the Need for Speed franchise, due to its deliberate focus on the fundamental essence of driving, instead of vehicular carnage and chaos.
The latest installment in the series, Gran Turismo Sport, is no different. If you’re new to Gran Turismo, you should definitely start off Gran Turismo Sport by participating in Driving School, which will teach you everything from basic driving techniques like accelerating and braking, to more advanced techniques like tackling hairpin corners without ending up running off course. But be warned, the lessons can be punishingly difficult right from the get-go, despite the fact that every lesson comes replete with its own video tutorial to teach you what needs to be done.
A word of advice: Try not to become overzealous when it comes to grinding for gold medals for each of the 50 Driving School lessons, because it will only lead to you groaning in despair and, eventually, rage-quitting. Trust us, we’ve been there.
So, once you’ve completed (or given up on) Driving School, you can then go ahead and participate in single-player or multiplayer racers. In order to participate in the latter, however, you’ll need to have a PlayStation Plus subscription. That’s right, to participate in the highly competitive Sport Mode of Gran Turismo Sport – which actually abides by the motorsport rules and regulations of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) – you’re going to need a PS Plus subscription.
Those amongst you who aren’t devout driving enthusiasts would probably be content with the single player mode, where you can battle it out with AI opponents on 17 different iconic race courses (40 different layouts in total) around the world – the infamous Nürburgring in Germany included.
We should probably stress that if you’re new to Gran Turismo, and have grown accustomed to the way a car handles in most Need for Speed games, you’re going to find it difficult to come to terms with the vehicle dynamics of Gran Turismo Sport – especially if you’re using a DualShock 4 controller instead of a full-fledged racing wheel.
What this means is that you can forget about powersliding your way from the beginning till the end of each race. In fact, you should prepare yourself to restart the race the moment your car decides to understeer or oversteer even in the slightest, because you’re bound to end up spinning out and crashing into a safety barrier.
Yes, Gran Turismo Sport does have a wide selection of driving assistance features to help you make your way around even the tightest of corners, but fair warning: they can be quite intrusive – especially when you flip the driving assistance preset to ‘Beginner’, but expectedly so. You will literally be able to hold down the accelerate button throughout the entirety of the race, because the game will magically take care of all the breaking and countersteering for you. On the flipside, however, leave all the driving aids switched off, and you will find yourself barreling off the track ever-so-often, and becoming well-acquainted with the ‘retry’ button, particularly if you’re a perfectionist.
The car selection in Gran Turismo Sport is pretty underwhelming. All the usual suspects from both East and West are there, including Audi, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini, Mazda, Porsche, and Toyota. But the thing is, most of the manufacturers in Gran Turismo Sport have a habit of offering multiple versions of the same car.
Take Lamborghini, for example, whose Huracán supercar is available in three variants: the Huracán LP 610-4, Huracán Gr.4, and Huracán GT3. The only other drivable Lamborghini in the game that isn’t the Huracán, is the Veneno. Essentially, this means that Lamborghini only has two unique car models in the game, as though the Aventador or the Centenario doesn’t even exist.
Once you’ve mastered – or at least, familiarized yourself with – the driving dynamics of the vehicles in Gran Turismo Sport, you can then put your abilities to the test by taking on the 64 available Mission Challenges, which requires you to accomplish specific tasks like, say, reaching a top speed of 250km/h within a set distance, or completing a grueling 15-minute endurance race. Again, these challenges are much easier said than done.
The good news is, when you’re tired of going around in circles on the track, you can give your eyes a well-deserved break by ogling at the visually stunning cars of Gran Turismo Sport in Scapes mode, which allows you to take picture-perfect photos of the cars in your collection by placing them in the foreground of scenic backdrops.
You will even be given an extensive amount of camera settings to tinker with, including exposure levels, aperture, shutter speed, and even the focus point. But that’s not all – you can also choose whether you’d like to give your photos a little extra pizzazz by sprinkling it with a little film grain, or perhaps some vignetting. And of course, no photo mode would be complete without the inclusion of photo filters. Suffice to say, video game photo modes doesn’t get any more comprehensive than this.
Despite its few shortcomings, there are many things to like about Gran Turismo Sport. Its graphics and visuals are nothing short of spectacular (even on a standard PS4), and you will definitely learn a thing or two about driving (better) by diligently mastering the driving lessons. But to truly appreciate everything that the game has to offer – especially if you intend to participate in the competitive online races – you’re going to need a racing wheel, like the Logitech G29 Driving Force.