In many ways Gran Turismo Sport feels like a blast from the past, with modern graphics acting as the fuel propelling it. While keeping the obsession with cars and the joy of tuning them intact, Gran Turismo Sport adds some new elements, both welcome and unwelcome. And there’s a reason why this game is called Gran Turismo ‘Sport’, instead of being a numbered Gran Turismo game – the focus is very much on the Sport aspect of driving, and the sportsmanship around it.
Let’s talk about the good first, and there is definitely a lot to like here. The racing and simulation part of Gran Turismo still feels unmatched. You can tune the settings to exactly how you want the racing to feel. Hard assists make the driving really simplified, while turning all the assists off offers a deep simulation experience. You’ll be playing a lot against other players, and the game doubles down on sportsmanship from the very start. You are repeatedly told the value of racing in a well-spirited manner.
The good thing is that there’s a lot to the online component, ie. the Sports Mode. Daily challenges keep you returning regularly to gain new unlocks and upgrades. The championships, which just began on 3rd November, actually is a great way to bring back a lot of players during specific times of the year, and ensure that the game has a long tail. This form of scheduled events made sure that servers remained full and active, and finding matches has never been an issue.
With the emphasis on sportsmanship, Gran Turismo Sport introduces the Sportsmanship Rating, an online ranking system that credits you for clean driving. All of this happens in real-time, and you are always encouraged to play fair. This really helps in building a better racing community overall, though there were moments when I felt like I messed up through no fault of my own, and still had my rating tank. It’s rare, but does happen.
The focus this time around is the online component, and competing in races. Single player is barebones, so much so that no progress is saved unless you’re online, and all you can then play is the Arcade Mode. This is very much a game that will live and die by it’s online community. So far servers have been great.
Gran Turismo Sport looks great. All the cars and tracks are painstakingly re-created to stunning levels of accuracy. Polyphony’s years of development time shows through and through in every frame of the game, both visually and in the sound design. My only complain is the lack of dynamic weather effects. While the locations are varied, and the tracks feel great, some weather effects would’ve gone a long way in terms of offering more variety.
There are over 150 cars to pick from, but some of them feel like variants of the same. There’s still a lot to pick from, and customization options are deep. They do take some time in opening things up for the player, but for those who are willing to keep coming back, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Minor gripes aside, Gran Turismo Sport is a fantastic racing game. It has a tight focus, but executes exceptionally well. It may not be as feature rich as other racing games in the market right now, but when it comes to obsessing about cars and driving, no one does it more than Gran Turismo Sport.