Gran Turismo Sport
I really wanted Gran Turismo Sport to be a Forza killer. Not because I don’t like Forza – I love Forza – but because without decent competition innovation is often shunned. Of course with that in mind, Gran Turismo Sport should have been pulling out all the stops, but instead seems to trip and stumble as much as they achieve.
Lets get a couple of things out the way to begin with. Gran Turismo Sport is visually stunning, we’d expect – or accept – nothing less from a game that has built itself on being good looking. And the driving is good, the cars handle nicely, and loosing control is a knife edge affair. Pretty much how I’d assume real life tracing feels like. Initially it feels like the best Gran Turismo to date.
But then the annoying things pop up again. If it’s a racing simulation – as it likes to say it is – then why does Gran Turismo Sport have to reset you on the track if you go a little too far onto the grass? There is nothing more jarring and immersion destroying then your car suddenly being taken off you, placed back on the track and having to restart at the back of the pack.
If you need to stop people cutting corners, put some tire walls in place. Or use the weirdly annoying “slow down or we’ll add this much time to your time at the end of the race” mechanic that you use for all other apparent driving infringements. Which in itself is also annoying as most of the time you’re not sure what you did to get a time penalty.
And then there’s the rally tracks, where you can never go too far off course because of the invisible fucking walls on the side of the tracks. I’m not kidding, you literally can’t go off track because of invisible barriers. I mean come on Polyphony Digital are you taking the piss?
And then we come to the single player campaign. Well, there is no campaign, just racing against AI, which is essentially the same as campaign but without the structure and immersive nature. Oh, and you have to slowly unlock the tracks as most of them are locked until you’ve leveled up enough. There you go again Polyphony Digital, taking the piss right?
Of course there is Driving School, if you’re suffering from insomnia.
So the main focus is now on online racing. Not a bad move, but racing games still require a solid single player experience. But before you race online you have to earn the right to. Not by grinding up to a certain level, but by undergoing etiquette training. Yes, read that last sentence again. Etiquette training. What this consists of is being forced to watch two videos on racing etiquette. I was sitting on the couch with my wife at the time of this revelation, and whilst I was slowly shaking my head in disbelief at having to watch two videos my wife was literally wetting her pants laughing at the absurd content of these videos.
I have to hand it to Polyphony Digital however, as you don’t get nearly as much first corner carnage as you do with Forza 7. This of course has zero to do with etiquette training and more to do with the rolling start and lengthy spaces between the cars. It also helps that all the cars are absolutely identical so the only way to crash into someone on the first corner is if they break too aggressively. Once you get into the race however you have as much chance of being run off the track deliberately as in any other online racing game. Etiquette training is worth shit. And make a mockery of long time fans of GT, or in fact any serious racing game.
The races themselves however are often tight and raced on the knife edge of knowing if you don’t push hard enough you’ll get over taken, but if you push too hard you’ll loose control of your car and end up at the end of the pack. And this is what racing should be like.
There is of course one glaringly obvious thing missing from a racing game that likes to think its a simulator; dynamic weather and lighting. Time of day never progresses when racing in Gran Turismo Sport, the shadows never get longer, and the track always stays nice and dry.
When both your major competitors have dynamic weather and one of them has killer graphics, you can’t really sit around with your head in the sand pretending that no one ever racing in the wet.
Gran Turismo continues to evolve, and this is the best one so far, but it’s like Polyphony Digital live in a bubble and never bother to play their competitors games, or take note of what they are working on. It’s the only way I can explain why Gran Turismo never evolves at the same rate as other racers.
Rating: G Suitable for general audiences.