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Gran Turismo 7 Review – Start Your Engines

Gran Turismo 7 had some pretty big shoes to fill. The previous game in the series, Gran Turismo Sport, wasn’t quite what many players were expecting; it had a strong online focus and prioritised multiplayer modes over Gran Turismo’s historically excellent single-player content. As a result, many players thought that the franchise as they knew it – as represented by the solid but rushed Gran Turismo 6 – was over, and that they’d have to get to know a new series that resembled their old beau but wasn’t quite the same.

Now, we have Gran Turismo 7, a game that Sony has promised will revisit the legacy of its predecessors somewhat. True to that promise, the single-player content has been largely restored here. Several fan favourite modes, including GT Simulation, the Driving School, and Championships, make a return in Gran Turismo 7, so if you’ve been waiting for a classic return to form, this could well be it. The question, though, remains thus: is this enough to recharge the Gran Turismo series as we know it, or will it be left on the starting line?

The first thing to say about Gran Turismo 7 is that it is breathtakingly beautiful. Every new console generation promises better and better visuals (we were playing the PS5 version, but the game is also available on PS4), and true to form, Gran Turismo 7 is best experienced on the PS5. Cars shimmer and pop with incredible levels of detail, tracks feel authentic, and even the performance mode runs at a silky-smooth 4K and 60fps, making for a veritable feast for the eyes. If you’re in this to stare at some beautiful cars, then it’s hard to imagine how you could be disappointed by Gran Turismo 7.

Content-wise, Gran Turismo 7 feels pretty strong, too. The campaign mode has a rather amusing and unusual little visual novel accompaniment that makes the story feel more compelling than it has any right to be, so you won’t just be mechanically making your way through a series of races. It’s hard to imagine any other company committing to this kind of strange, off-the-wall approach to campaign planning, so it’s gratifying to see Sony taking some risks – however minor – with its properties. Playing through Gran Turismo 7’s story mode almost makes up for the multiplayer focus of Sport.

Of course, none of this matters if Gran Turismo 7 doesn’t handle well. Happily, it does. Each car feels weighty and unique, aided to no end by the mechanical precision and wonderfully compelling feedback of the DualSense controller. Using the DualSense really makes it feel like you’re controlling a car rather than just playing a video game; the triggers resist your push as you accelerate, and the haptic feedback convincingly simulates different weather conditions and track styles, which is just another reason to pick this one up on the PS5 if you can.

The long-awaited return of the Driving School and license challenges are also welcome additions to Gran Turismo 7. There’s something nostalgic about taking on a series of races not simply to earn in-game currency or the right to online leaderboard bragging rights, but so that you can earn bronze, silver, or gold trophies. Gran Turismo 7 feels like a pleasing throwback in this regard; while it certainly doesn’t have the bouncy spirit of its PlayStation forebears, it’s a step in the right direction for the franchise when it comes to accommodating those who don’t want to play with others.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to Gran Turismo 7’s success, and it lies in the menu system. The Gran Turismo franchise has never been particularly visually arresting in terms of the way you navigate its content, and 7 is no exception. Much has been made elsewhere of the dreary navigation, and it’s hard to disagree; making your way around Gran Turismo 7’s ecosystem just feels horribly uninvolving. It’s like the developers had absolutely no interest in attracting people who weren’t already utterly sold on Gran Turismo, because only hardcore fans will be able to forgive menu design this dull.

In the end, though, this is a nitpick, and it’s a pretty minor one at that. All that really matters in the world of Gran Turismo 7 is the racing, and mechanically, Sony’s new racer is absolutely faultless. While there are definitely some crow’s feet on the tracks themselves – mostly on off-track detailing – the same can’t be said for the cars, nor can the attention to detail on the part of developer Polyphony Digital be faulted. Gran Turismo 7 is, pure and simple, an excellent racing game with satisfying mechanics and great DualSense integration.

If there is a bugbear to be had with the overall experience, it can be found in the progression. Unlocking cars in Gran Turismo 7 just takes way, way too long. Many of the higher-end cars cost millions of credits, but you won’t earn anywhere near that from races, which means you’ll have to grind repetitive race challenges over and over again to earn credits. As a means to facilitate the core gameplay of Gran Turismo 7, this is fine, but it’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when everything takes so long to unlock. The cars always feel worth it once you unlock them, but it can be a long and bumpy road.

All in all, though, we very much enjoyed our time with Gran Turismo 7. It’s an unashamedly hybrid racer that leans into the customisation and tuning elements of Forza, but still maintains enough of the arcade stylings of later-period Dirt games to be worth a recommendation for non-driving enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a great racing game to play and you don’t mind some drab menus and incredibly grindy progression, then you should pick up Gran Turismo. If nothing else, you’ll likely still be staring with slack-jawed awe at how great the cars look months after the game launches.

9/10 

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