Gran Turismo Sport Review: Lean mean machine
In an age where established franchises seem to come front-loaded with as much content as the developers can stuff into them, there’s something rather refreshing about Gran Turismo Sport.
This baby is streamlined.
Perhaps because Sony wanted a GT game on the PS4 as soon as possible and developers were placed under the cosh, Sport feels like a diet version of its immediate predecessors. And really, that’s no bad thing.
The more persnickety of players may bemoan the near-anorexic list of cars and tracks when compared to Polyphony Digital’s last outing, and weather variations have been pared down to almost nothing.
But no-one who forks out cash for this game should feel cheated. Gran Turismo Sport is a fantastic racing sim and – more importantly for newbies on Sony’s current platform – it’s arguably one of the best gateways into this genre of game.
That gateway is packaged in Driving School mode, in which Gran Turismo Sport gives newcomers a series of driving tests to bring them up to speed. The different levels of this mode are presented as bite-sized chunks; uninitiated players may well spend hours honing their skills here, retrying each segment in order to obtain a ‘gold’ rating, because they are that well crafted.
The single-player campaign – which includes Driving School – seems to have more in common with the business model of an FPS. That is, its function is to school players – both newbies and veterans – in the art of play and then funnel them into the multiplayer mode.
That’s not to say there’s a dearth of activities to get stuck into in single-player mode. Leaving aside Driving School, there are the Mission Challenge, Circuit Experience and Racing Etiquette avenues.
Once again, though, these are mostly geared towards helping the uninitiated get to grips with dealing with a racing sim. It’s also worth pointing out that, unlike previous iterations, Gran Turismo Sport’s single-player isn’t aimed at building up a car collection. It’s about making every player that tackles it into a better driver. For the GT fanbase, though, this is lightweight stuff.
That having been said, Polyphony Digital has produced a great near-the-knuckle racing sim experience. Even though Gran Turismo Sport boasts a fraction of the cars contained in its predecessor, every single car feels like its own beast. For example, the experience of piloting a Nissan GT-R compared to an Alfa Romeo 4C is marked, from the way the cars’ weight swerve to the noise the soundtrack makes when one down-gears.
It’s almost like Polyphony Digital decided quality was more important than quantity and GT Sport is a better game for it. It’s a brave move in a world where the new Project Cars and the new Forza are shoving as much content as thy can into retail release.
But stripping away the fat has come at a cost; leaving aside the reduced garage and (relatively) small collection of tracks, Gran Turismo Sport lacks the visual leap forward every entry in this franchise has boasted. It almost feels weird to say that a Gran Turismo game isn’t the best in show visually – even though in terms of car handling it still eats the competition alive – because graphical fidelity has been such a staple for this franchise.
Gran Turismo Sport’s main aim, it seems, is to draw players in and keep them playing. From the single-player campaign – which takes players from lowly time challenges to endurance fests that have them keeping an eye on the fuel gauge – to the multiplayer mode – which become borderline addictive after a time – this is a game that makes a convincing argument for your time.
Like the recently released Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Gran Turismo Sport seems gloriously out of step with current gaming trends. It doesn’t offer up what one would expect from a game in its genre beyond the on-track handling, and instead focuses on giving players an experience that’ll have veterans hammering it for hours on end while encouraging newcomers to keep honing their skills.
Gran Turismo Sport – Verdict
So Gran Turismo Sport, then, is something of an oddity in the current market, but one that showcases the bravery of its developer. It’s not as chock-full of content as its nearest and dearest competitors, but this doesn’t count against it.
Racing sims are tricky beasts that don’t appeal to a lot of players. Gran Turismo Sport has managed something of a coup in this regard; fans will line up for this game in their droves, because in terms of racing experience, it doesn’t skimp an inch. At the same time, Gran Turismo Sport is arguably the best starting point for curious onlookers on this current gen. It’s impressive how well Polyphony Digital’s latest game straddles both camps.