Highly anticipated: Gran Turismo is not for everybody. Some don't like its grindy nature. Some don't like the difficult physics. However, fans of the series are ardent and take the bad with the good (full disclosure: I'm a big fan). The last GT game strayed from the formula players loved, and Sony noticed. Polyphony redesigned nearly everything in the game for the PS5, and it looks fantastic. Gran Turismo is back and better than ever.
Gran Turismo is back. Sony took a deep dive into Gran Turismo 7 on Wednesday, and it is evident that developer Polyphony Digital is going back to its roots (4K highlights above). The last real GT game in the series launched in 2013. Gran Turismo Sport came out in 2017, but that was a considerable departure from the series.
Sport focused more on multiplayer and lacked the depth of previous iterations. It had fewer tracks, a stripped-down garage, and cosmetic weather effects that didn't affect driving. The single-player portion was stripped to just driving tests, which are fun but are not the whole of the GT we know and love.
Sony's latest State of Play focused solely on Gran Turismo 7. Let's just say everything and more is coming back to the series. Lots of real-world cars? Check. Try out 400 models, including daily drivers. More courses? Check. It has 97 tracks in 34 locations, including classic layouts like Autumn Ring, Deep Forest Raceway, and High-Speed Ring. Plus, Sony plans to add even more tracks and cars in future updates.
Of course, the license trials are still there for players to obsess over getting those gold medals. Purchasing the car of your dreams or your current daily driver (or close to it) is still there, albeit it looks like they will be the usual grind fest. However, it appears Polyphony took customization to the next level. They upped the paint selections and decals while also allowing stickers to be placed in more positions and with more precision. Tuning is more in-depth than previous iterations, too, with over 60 types of after-market parts for each car.
Of course, one of Gran Turismo's greatest draws has been graphical fidelity. Polyphony has always tried to push the limits of the PlayStation hardware, and the PS5 is no exception. The cars, tracks, and environments are as photo-real as they have ever been, even utilizing the PS5's massive power upgrade to employ ray tracing.
The developers have rebuilt the photo mode adding many more options to capture your cars even better than a pro photographer could in real life. This redesign makes the ever-present photo mode, now called "Scapes," even more spectacular. Players have a choice of over 2,500 locations across the world to place their cars, offering a vast array of compositions. It also has a race photo mode for capturing those white-knuckle moments from your latest battle on the track.
But it's not all just shiny new graphics. Sunny or rainy conditions are not just a visual effect. Polyphony implemented an advanced weather simulation that uses meteorological data to create dynamic weather, including cloud formation. The advanced GT7 car physics engine recognizes wet, dry, hot, and cold conditions and makes the car respond appropriately. In longer races, players may have to pit to swap tires due to a weather change. There is also a weather radar on the HUD to track inclement conditions.
Time is also accurately simulated. The sun and moon rise and set in the proper location depending on location, time of day, and date. The game engine models stars and planets accurately as well.
As Kazunori Yamauchi, the Father of Gran Turismo, said in the presentation (masthead), "Skies in Japan will change as they do in Japan, and skies in California will change as they do in California."
Spectators are a significant improvement this time. Crowds seem alive now. They can be seen in the background cheering, moving around, and even looking at the camera. Check out the time-lapse at the 14:42 mark to see how the spectators are animated in the background. It's not perfect, but it's better than any previous attempts at creating a "real" crowd.
Yamauchi's passion for vehicles and car culture has allured many Gran Turismo fans. Car buffs and noobs to the scene seem to enjoy learning little know facts about the cars they drive or those they wish they could.
Polyphony has brought this back with a Gran Turismo Café, where players can fill up a "car menu" by completing various challenges. Sometimes the creators of those cars will show up at the café to talk about the model's history and design. Additionally, there is a car museum where players can learn about various manufacturers. Even the car lot where you purchase your vehicles has facts and tidbits that those interested can optionally peruse.
More enhancements like dynamic music and a "Music Rally" mode have been added to spice things up. There is a new focus on drifting, with specific races and trials all about getting sideways. It looks like it will be an excellent addition to the series.
As a long-time fan, I'm looking forward to Gran Turismo 7's release on March 4 for the PS4 and PS5. In the meantime, enjoy these images captured in-game below.