Since its inception, Gran Turismo has been the racing game to beat. Or should that be ‘racing simulation’?
See, while other titles might have offered more action, better damage and greater excitement, none could beat GT to the line when it came to true-to-life racing recreation.
News in 2015, then, that Gran Turismo would be returning as Gran Turismo Sport was, perhaps predictably, met with great anticipation.
Since then, release dates have slipped and various promises amended or postponed. Now, though, we’ve finally got a closed beta, which points towards a launch in the very near future.
What, then, does developer Polyphony have in store? And how will it hold off upstart rivals such as DriveClub?
Read on for the five reasons why Gran Turismo Sport deserves your excitement – and will probably be the best racing title of 2017.
1) IT LOOKS INCREDIBLE
Yes, there’s a lot more to a good racing game than graphics – but, boy, does GT Sport look a dream. With a host of exotic vehicle models built specifically for this new title (no dodgy repurposing of GT6 models, here), early gameplay videos and screenshots show Gran Turismo Sport to be an astoundingly realistic piece of gaming craftsmanship.
Whether haring through the desert in a supercar or slinging it around city streets in an endurance racer, early impressions indicate that GT Sport will be easily the best looking Gran Turismo game, ever.
While the lack of full VR support (something rival Project Cars 2 is set to offer) will be a blow to some, as the first GT title to hit the PS4, it should be no surprise that GT Sport will be rendered in a ludicrous number of polygons – not to mention what the PS4 Pro will do with it. Whether it’ll overcome the age-old criticism of GT games, namely looking a little clinical, will be one for our full review.
2) IT’S A SIM THROUGH AND THROUGH
Thankfully, GT Sport will also have realism to back up its, erm, realism. Early Gran Turismo games focussed on nailing the unique handling characteristics of individual vehicles over more engaging race types – and, thankfully, Gran Turismo Sport is set to take that concept and make it a whole lot better.
That core focus on handling remains, with various hands-on reports suggesting a marked difference in feel between vehicle types, while the physics and dynamics engine should see every bump, crest and curve affecting your race. GT Sport has been through many builds and pre-launch iterations so, admittedly, it won’t be until we properly test it that we’ll be able to weigh in – but we’ve got high hopes.
For some, it will always be soulless compared to arcade racers such as Need for Speed, and many will be listening hard to how GT Sport handles audio (something that’s troubled previous Polyphony racers), but there’s a good chance this will be the closest thing to racing realism besides getting onto the tarmac yourself.
3) IT’S FIA-APPROVED
Who needs real racing when you’ve got an FIA certified e-racing championship? We’re about to find out, because Gran Turismo Sport is home to the first and, for now, only online racing championship approved by the FIA. There’s even an official licence you can earn.
All of this means GT Sport is geared up to be a properly massive multiplayer title. Besides playing casually with your pals, there will be two officially sanctioned championships: a Nations Cup and a Manufacturer Cup. Anyone can enter, and the winners will progress to a finals event to be broadcast online.
It’s something of a follow-up from GT Academy, that saw Gran Turismo 6 players competing for a seat in a real-life Nissan GT-R, and there’s a good chance it’ll see a host of gamers itching to hone their virtual racecraft. Whether it’ll take off as a spectator sport remains to be seen.
4) IT’S GOT LOTS OF CARS – AND PLENTY OF PLACES TO TAKE THEM
Gran Turismo Sport will serve up more than 130 cars – each finely crafted and rendered for your driving pleasure – and, while 19 tracks might not seem like many to get started with, there’s a good chance we’ll see more via DLC post-launch.
More than 20 of those cars are bespoke, concept vehicles, too. You’re also unlikely to get bored, with all kinds of neat tricks and tools on offer – including a livery editor, a driver identity feature and ‘Photo Scapes’.
The latter feature allows you to park a vehicle of your choosing in one of more than 1000 locations, tweak the positioning and snap a stunning shot to share online. You can position cars, set the focus and aperture and, well, generally faff about snapping seriously expensive virtual vehicles.
5) IT’S GOING OFF-ROAD – AGAIN
It might not be the new Dirt, but GT Sport will feature rally racing as anything but an afterthought. A track named ‘Fisherman’s Ranch’ has been the focus of many first impressions, and it seems to serve up exactly the kind of loose-dirt racing that rally fans want.
With several off-road vehicles on offer, including – what else? – a Subaru WRX, Gran Turismo Sport looks set to throw in a dedicated rally mode that will let racers hone their muddy skills.
Admittedly, yes, this is far from a fully-fledged wing of the game, and we have seen rally forays in previous titles – but, given the prowess of the physics engine, not to mention that challenging handling, we can see rally forming an exciting part of that broad online offering.