The PS4 exclusive GT Sport came out a while back (October 2017). It’s had a few patches since then. What’s it like now?
Gran Turismo is a game I grew up with. It’s one of those games I look back on with great fondness and wonder what I could have achieved if I put those endless hours of gameplay into something/anything else. I could have been that guy at the party that can actually play the guitar! Disappointing to say the least… Well anyway, it turns out that sinking that many hours as a youngster not only makes you ok at said genre, it also makes you very critical.
The OG Gran Turismo was released in Japan in 1997 on the Playstation. This was my first taste of the console racing sim. I loved it! This was back in the day when games were way more expensive and big game launches were few and far between. It was my jam for a hell of a long time. I played the subsequent GT games on PS2 but skipped the rest until GT Sport.
To say I was looking forward to delving into an old childhood memory would be a gross understatement. Sometimes you hold something in such a high esteem that when you come across it again it’s not the same. That’s exactly what happened to me. I didn’t realise how spoiled I had been with really good racing games between when I had last played a GT game and now.
It turns out that Gran Turismo suffers from what I loving refer to as PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) syndrome. It’s where a game is so good that it feels it doesn’t need to evolve and change with the times. So they just up the graphics, not making any revolutionary changes and pump out the next iteration. PES is an absolute shocker for this and I believe Gran Turismo is the same.
Let’s rip off the band-aid nice and quickly here. What exactly don’t I like about it? The UI (user interface) is horrendous. There are menus for days that wouldn’t look out of place in a PS2 game. There just aren’t that many cars to muck around in. There’s so much crap that most people will never touch. There’s a bloody museum!
The update I was waiting for before I wrote this article made the online only ‘career’ mode now offline. I was put off by the online mode because it told me not to bump into players! What is that shit? So online was now offline. Great. Turns out they may as well not have bothered. It’s just tournaments with no real, or no obvious, goal. Admittedly I only gave this mode a cursory look and a couple of hours game time but it’s not gripping or enthralling.
The worst thing about the gameplay is the braking. I’m not sure if I missed something in the settings or what the hell is going on but I can press the brake button as hard as possible and it doesn’t even lock the wheels. I’m not sure if I’m asking too much here but braking hard should feel like braking hard right? The other thing that irks me about gameplay is how every corner is screeching tyres time. Again, not sure if I missed something in the settings but this is how it was for me.
It’s not all bad though! The game is graphically flawless! Racing around it looks incredible. The cockpit view is great, everything within the car is really well modelled and just as expected. The time of day you are racing in really makes a difference to visibility (especially tricky in cockpit view) which really adds that next level immersion and difficulty. All the cars feel different from each other and surfaces feel massively different too which adds a good amount of variety.
Armageddon and Ping Zero
What made me really want to get my hands on this game so badly was my brief encounter with it at last year’s Armageddon event in Auckland, NZ. I am lucky enough to know Conrad from Ping Zero and he was running a hot lap event for Logitech NZ at Armageddon. So naturally I had to go and catch up with the most enthusiastic guy in the NZ gaming scene and have a jam on the racing setups.
My time at the Ping Zero hot lap booth was incredible. Playing GT Sport with the steering wheel and pedals felt amazing! This game lends itself to full simulation setups perfectly. From talking to Conrad, he said it was also really easy to set it all up for the steering wheel too, something that quite often takes a lot of tinkering.
The fact that you can play GT Sport using your PSVR is fantastic! I unfortunately don’t have a PSVR setup which means I can only ask people about it. Asking Conrad (again, dude from Ping Zero) about it, he said it works beautifully! Easy to get racing and it feels great too.
GT Sport has a lot of potential. With enough patches and enough mucking around with settings I think there is a really solid game here. I wished I enjoyed my time with the game more, I just couldn’t get over it’s many pitfalls. If you are a fan of the Gran Turismo series and you love it then you will love this iteration. GT Sport is more of the same and to most that isn’t a bad thing. Be prepared to bring your own motivation though, there’s not much provided.