In 1997, Polyphony Digital released Gran Turismo for the original PlayStation, and it was an immediate hit, establishing itself as Sony's premiere exclusive racing game franchise in the process. Some of Gran Turismo's sequels reached similar heights, but there have been some bumps in the road as well. 2017's Gran Turismo Sport launched with significantly fewer cars to collect than franchise fans were used to and neglected the single-player experience to focus on online play. Anyone disappointed by that game will be happy to know that Gran Turismo 7 gets the franchise back on track.
Gran Turismo 7 starts off with historical footage of the automobile industry then moves to a very pretty, very long, very unskippable cutscene showing off its various tracks and vehicles. When that's done, Gran Turismo 7 finally puts players behind the wheel, allowing them to progress through a linear single-player experience where they compete in races, earn new licenses, and of course, collect hundreds of cars.
Gran Turismo 7 has numerous game modes, features, customization options, and more to the point where it risks becoming overwhelming. Instead of throwing everything at players all at once, Gran Turismo 7 offers a more guided single-player experience, introducing each new feature one at a time. Some might find it restrictive compared to other modern racing games, but others will enjoy the sense of progress and direction.
Players progress through Gran Turismo 7 primarily by completing menus that they pick up at the cafe. These menus task Gran Turismo 7 players with completing objectives to earn new cars, unlock new tracks, and generally advance the game. For example, one menu may task players with acquiring three specific types of car by finishing on the podium in races. Then the next menu may have players customize their vehicle in some way. And then after that, they may be whisked away to a new feature that popped up on the world map that gives them even more options to consider and things to do, all the while learning interesting history about the vehicles they're unlocking.
Gran Turismo 7 has over 400 cars, and while it's certainly not the most cars that the series has ever had on offer, it's a lot more than Gran Turismo Sport had at launch. Gran Turismo 7 cars are earned by finishing races, completing special challenges, purchasing them with credits, and through randomized rewards. Completionists that want to add every single car to their Gran Turismo 7 collection should be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of time to the game, to say the least.
The overall goal in Gran Turismo 7, aside from completing the cafe menu books and progressing the single-player experience, is collecting every car in the game. The main way players will do this is by winning races, so it's a good thing that the actual racing is a lot of fun. Gran Turismo 7 offers a more laid back, almost relaxing kind of racing game experience when compared to some of its competitors, with players given total freedom when it comes to how much agency they want over the driving experience.
Gran Turismo 7 offers a wide-range of accessibility and assist features that allow players to completely tailor the racing to their liking. Someone that wants a pure challenge can adjust the difficulty settings and switch off the assists, whereas those who maybe struggle with braking at the right time and successfully getting around corners will want to keep some assists activated. It gives players the ability to play the game exactly how they want and is better for it.
Even with assists on, though, succeeding in a Gran Turismo 7 race still requires players to come in prepared. Races have certain requirements that cars have to meet for players to even participate, and so that's where tuning comes into play. Players are able to spend their hard-earned credits to buy a variety of parts to upgrade their vehicles, with more options made available as the game goes on. The hardcore fans will likely spend hours tuning their vehicles and customizing their appearance, but casual fans can simply select parts that make the car's PP rating increase. Similarly to how the assist options expand its horizons, Gran Turismo 7's tuning and customization options are designed to be simple enough for casual players to understand while also giving gearheads the deep complexity they're looking for in a game like this.
Players are able to take their cars on dozens of Gran Turismo 7 tracks set in various locations around the world, all of which look absolutely stunning on the PlayStation 5. The lighting in Gran Turismo 7 is especially impressive, helping the game almost look like real-life sometimes. Players will especially get a kick out of the game's day/night cycle, where they may start a championship race on a track when it's late in the afternoon, only for it to transition to night by the time the race ends.
Gran Turismo 7 is a cross-gen game, and so it's not using the PlayStation 5 to its fullest potential, but it's still one of the best-looking racing games ever made. Besides the incredible lighting and weather effects, the level of detail in every vehicle is jaw-dropping, and it's honestly getting difficult to imagine how things can improve from here.
The game's stellar graphics help a lot with immersion, but there's a lot to be said about the way Gran Turismo 7 utilizes the PS5 DualSense controller as well. While hardcore racing game fans will likely want to go with a proper steering wheel controller, those opting to stick with their controller will find that GT7 makes great use of the DualSense's unique features, particularly haptic feedback. The vibration in the controller perfectly reflects what's happening on-screen, giving it all an extra sense of realism that wasn't possible before. The DualSense makes smooth driving feel that much better, while high-speed spin-outs are far more intense and frantic.
There's definitely a lot to like about Gran Turismo 7, and anyone that considers themselves a fan of the franchise should rest easy knowing that it should check all their boxes and then some. However, the game does have some notable drawbacks. For instance, players have to dedicate a couple of hours to properly unlock the online multiplayer offerings thanks to the way the game is set up, and while most fans likely won't mind, this may be frustrating to those who are only interested in multiplayer.
The biggest concern with the game is its use of microtransactions. Gran Turismo 7 uses credits as its currency, with players using credits to buy everything from custom liveries to car parts to new cars to performing maintenance on their current vehicles. Gran Turismo 7 does a good job of giving players plenty of credits, but there are some instances where it seems like it may be trying to push players towards the microtransactions.
While Gran Turismo 7 players get plenty of credits by simply playing the game, they also have to spend a great deal of them in order to stay competitive. This means acquiring new vehicles as well as upgrading existing ones, which can be an extremely expensive endeavor. And so the game seems designed for Gran Turismo 7 players to constantly be spending their credits, yet it also tempts players with special deals.
For example, Gran Turismo 7 players may receive a letter from a brand that will lead them to an extremely impressive but expensive car. It may cost over 3 million credits and most players simply won't have the currency available. If credit-deficient players attempt to buy these vehicles, they are met with a "convenient" pop-up that asks if they'd like to top off their credits at the PlayStation Store. Gran Turismo 7's microtransactions weren't set up during our time playing it and so it's difficult to say how much of an impact they will really have on the overall gameplay experience, but it does seem like the game is purposefully trying to lead players to the PlayStation Store to spend money on a game they've already paid full price to play.
Time will tell how fans will react to Gran Turismo 7's microtransactions, but putting them aside, what's there is still a deep racing game experience that will keep fans of the genre busy for hours on end. It's a gorgeous racing game and while it's not going to be knocking down any boundaries to convert non-racing game fans, Gran Turismo 7 should greatly appeal to its target audience.
Gran Turismo 7 launches March 4 for PS4 and PS5. Game Rant was provided with a PS5 code for this review.