Gran Turismo Sport is back on the right track

8 min read
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It was just over a year ago that we got our first real look at Polyphony Digital’s GT Sport. It didn’t quite have the impact that Sony or Polyphony had hoped, in a post-Forza world. It was underwhelming, feeling like something that had barely made any worthwhile progress over Gran Turismo 6 on the PlayStation 3. While it seemed a competent racer, visually, it was found wanting; a utilitarian racing sim without the glamour or perfect presentation found in Microsoft’s racer.

GTSportcars

I had the opportunity to play the recent closed Beta for GT Sport, and I’m happy to report that much of that has changed. The beta offered up racing in an interesting way, cutting off much of the game to demonstrate its “Sport” mode ably. Offline, players were able to test their given cars around the three available events, racing their own ghosts in qualifying heats on tracks that were both fictional, and based on real counterparts.

GT Sport Beta (1)

Those qualifying times would dictate starting positions on the grid in online races, which were at specific times to allow those with access to gather in prescribed lobbies. Before each race kicked off, players were able to test their cars around tracks once more, so there was very little in the way of pointless waiting around.

I realised, going into the beta, that it’s been quite some time since I’ve played a racing game that didn’t involve red shells and bananas, so it took a while to familiarise myself with its physics, grounded in reality as they are. I crashed, a lot.

GT Sport Beta (4)

Importantly, GT Sport just feels good. There have been sweeping and subtle changes to how cars handle. Most immediately notable is the change to tire physics, which now feels as if each of the four wheels has its own grip on the road. Subtle, but impactful changes like this punctuate every aspect of game’s physics, and while it’s still not on par with core sims like Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa, it strikes a better balance between simulation and something resembling a game that’s fun to play. Its physics react naturally, organically – the way my brain expects them to.

Do you feel that driving a simulator is difficult, more difficult than driving a real-life car? Well, your opinion is about to change because we refined our physics to offer a better sense of control that honestly conveys the player’s input. In the same way you drive a real car, you will be able to control the vehicle represented in the game with increased depth to the controls.

GT Sport Beta (5)

For a sim, it’s also oddly accessible. While it’s possible to tweak nearly every aspect of your vehicle – including things like aerodynamics, transmission, suspension and drivetrain – or you could be a plebeian (as I am) and leave all of that stuff well alone. There are also some handy control options, with the game letting you play your way. Want to use the analogue triggers to accelerate and brake, while using the sticks for steering? Done. Prefer to use the right thumbstick as a throttle? No problem. You can even go old school and use the face buttons to accelerate while you use the d-pad to move your vehicle. For those who prefer motion control, you can even use the DualShock 4’s gyroscopes and accelerometers.

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Interestingly, the driving line that made its way from Forza through to Gran Turismo has been given the boot. While I’m a terrible driver and I’ve always found using the green-coloured line was a bit of a cheat, I’ve appreciated knowing where, in general, to keep my car on the road. The system’s been replaced instead by a series of markers, showing less of a definite line, and decreasing my personal sense of guilt or shame.

GT Sport Beta (6)

Paradoxically, its “Sport” mode is also in some ways less accessible to players who aren’t adept at piloting vehicles around tight chicanes. There’s a real sense of consequence this time, as bad behaviour in a lap finds those infringements doling out penalisations, docking points and adding time to your laps. Oddly, there’s no actual vehicle damage.

It’s seen a substantial visual upgrade too – and the road and vehicle models are some of the best I’ve seen. The retail version of the game (whenever that may come) will support PlayStation VR in a sort of showroom mode, allowing players to get a personal, up-close look at some of the cars, and it’s something I can’t wait for, given how superbly detailed everything is. Word is that it’ll allow for some racing in VR too, which could be phenomenal given how well both Driveclub and Dirt Rally work in Virtual Reality.

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GT Sport Beta (1)

I wish that as much care was given to the stuff in your visual periphery as was given to the road itself and the cars. While it makes sense to spend fewer resources on the trees, bushes, and grass that you’ll whizz by, the cardboard cut-out flora have a way of yanking you out of the experience, killing the sense of immersion you get from flying around a circuit. Perhaps that’ll change in the final game.

GTSport

If there’s one perpetual bugbear that many have with Gran Turismo as a series, it’s in its audio department. For far too long, cars in Polyphony’s racing games have sounded like errant vacuum cleaners; their tinny din belying the horsepower that these beastly machines have under their hoods. Two years ago, Forza Audio Lead Mike Caviezel left Turn 10 to head up the audio department for Polyphony, and it shows. While the engines still sound a little hollow to my untrained ears, they no longer sounds like mechanised mosquitoes. That’s made up for by an increased diversity in the game’s general audio presentation, with more realistic engine sounds that include the pops of the transmission as gears shift, rattles of the cars as they careen around corners, the clicking and clacking of paddles and the flubbery rumble of rubber hitting rumble strips.

GTSportRace

The truth is that Gran Turismo is no longer the undisputed king of console racers, and hasn’t been for years. There’s an added pressure on Polyphony Digital to get things right in the face of an impending Project Cars 2 and Forza 7 – and it could be just the impetus the company needs. Gran Turismo Sport has all the ingredients to return it to its rightful place on the podium. Whether or not they get the recipe right is yet to be seen.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: May 24, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Original Heretic

    Man, I really want an awesome car game for the PS4. I so in love with Forza Horizon, but that’s a bloody exclusive.
    Is there anything that comes close to it on the PS?! Anything at all…?

    • Driveclub started out rough, but it developed in to a pretty damned good game. Looks gorgeous, is fun to play – and can be picked up cheap.

      • Original Heretic

        Ah, cheers, Geoff, shot for the recommendation. I’ll check it out.

        • Gerhard

          Yes very good game now. Just be prepared for big data upload

          • Original Heretic

            I’m currently not afraid of large downloads. I just replaced my whole system after a theft, so I’m busy replacing loads of games. And this time, I’ve opted for more digital games than discs.

      • Matthew Holliday

        but its not open world or as versatile in the driving department?
        Driveclub fills the same spot in the market as project cars and gran turismo.
        Forzas appeal is in the fun. The only thing comparable to it are the old NFS games.

        • Original Heretic

          I just want a great driving experience.

        • J.j. Barrington

          Ah, so there’s no fun to be had in DriveClub or Project Cars or GT. I wonder what that happy, fun-like feeling I experienced was, then..?

          • Matthew Holliday

            Yeah someone just had to go there.
            I said one game was focused more on fun, therefore the other games I mentioned are of course a snore-fest, thats totally what I meant.

            For a second I forgot I was speaking to the internet, rather than an actual person.

          • the internet only deals in binaries, obviouly.

      • Hammersteyn

        I keep forgetting about Driveclub 🙁

        • Original Heretic

          It’s going real cheap right now on PSN Store. After Geoff’s recommendation yesterday, I picked it up for only R109.

          • enjoy. It has some of the best weather effects I’ve seen ever – and some really fin racing. It really got a raw deal given its broken servers at launch.

          • Original Heretic

            You’ve yet to steer me wrong with recommendations, so I am really looking forward to it.

          • Hammersteyn

            I own it, just never get round to playing it 🙁

          • Original Heretic

            I can foresee myself having this problem now. I’m getting SO many new games now, I honestly don’t know what to play 1st!
            Overwatch, FFXV, Prey, Injustice 2, X-Com 2, Res Evil 7, Driveclub…
            ARGGH!!
            In a good way, argh, in a good way.

          • Hammersteyn

            Jumped into Overwatch last night after for the first time since December, I hate myself for not playing it more often.

          • Guild

            You and your lucky bullshit Loot boxes. Last event I didn’t get 1 event skin.
            This event I have opened 16 boxes and not 1 event skin. But here comes Hammer with his complimentary free Loot boxes and he gets 2 event skins. One word for it…..Bastard

          • Hammersteyn

            XD to be honest I got just one good loot box

          • Guild

            One of us, one of us. XD
            My backlog has gotten so ridiculous. I have enough games to last at least 2 years. My main problem is not starting and finishing an SP game. I will start then end up playing Overwatch, Paladins, Skyforge, BF1 or Titanfall 2 with mates. And that game list just keeps growing.

            One day I will play Witcher 3 and all the DLC I got for it….

          • Original Heretic

            I hear you, man. The number of games I start and just never finish is staggering….

          • Guild

            With the PSN sales I keep regularly checking and buying games more often which is not helping. Bought Sleep Dogs for 2nd time now (1st time on steam) and I still haven’t got to it but it was R89 so why not add it to the library. Same with Tomb raider got it for R150 on PSN, still need to play it.

          • Original Heretic

            Before my recent PS4 theft (stolen FROM me, not me doing the stealing!), the only games I’d finished on it were Bloodborne and the Uncharted games (I played through the whole collection).
            That’s why now, when I was busy replacing games, I was torn between getting the games I had so that I COULD finish them, or getting new stuff.
            I know myself too well, I bought the new stuff.

      • Dresden

        Project Cars any good? I see the PS store has the GOTY edition for R329.

        Speaking of, there is a Under R330 sale on the PS store which has a lot of nice games.

        • If you want to do racing, and just racing – yeah, it’s technically very good. I personally don;t find it any fun though.

    • J.j. Barrington

      Well, if you were expecting GT Sport- or any GT- to be an open world game like Forza Horizon, you were going to be disappointed, anyway.

      That said, you don’t actually sound genuine, so….

      • Original Heretic

        I don’t sound genuine? How do you figure that?

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      While it had a rough start Driveclub is an awesome game now and one of my favorite racing games of all time. I really didn’t care for Forza H3, I prefer a more true to racing game so I liked Forza better. If you want a open world kinda racing game I feel the racing modes in GTA 5 and Watchdogs alot more fun.

      • Original Heretic

        It’s not the open world thing that grabs me, it’s the awesome racing.

        • Ucouldntbemorewrong

          Then def pick up Driveclub, I would imagine it’s fairly cheap now also.
          I’ve been playing racing games for a long time, and it’s actually the first game that inspired to to get a wheel! Easy in but mastering the game is tough, but once you get that drift on. Amazing. And extremely underrated game…now that it’s fixed.

      • Fox1 – Retro

        LOL!

  • I must admit, Forza has my vote. GT6 was underwhelming, and other than shinies, I dont see much else in Sport.

  • Purple_Dragon

    I don’t play racing games on PS any more. Only on XBox due to my Elite Controller, only way to play racing games in my opinon.

    • Original Heretic

      Plus, you have Forza Horizon 3. The bestest racing game out there.
      Damn, I’ve seen that Hot Wheels expansion for it. Looks incredible.

      • Purple_Dragon

        Yes, FH3 is the best. It’s outstanding. That’s what I got the Xbox One for.

    • playing racing games on a controller lmao

    • J.j. Barrington

      Right, a controller is better than a wheel…

      • Purple_Dragon

        Obviously not. Elite is best controller for racing games.

        • J.j. Barrington

          Does this elite controller have a wheel?

          • Purple_Dragon

            Bye troll

          • J.j. Barrington

            In other words, it doesn’t? So it can’t possibly be the best way to play racing games?

            But you call ME a troll? Laughable.

          • Purple_Dragon

            Learn to read. I replied that it is obviously not better than a wheel, it’s the best controller.

          • J.j. Barrington

            You replied that it’s the best way to play racers.. which would mean it’s better than a wheel.

          • Purple_Dragon

            You need your eyes checked. I literally said “Obviously not. Elite is best controller for racing games.”. I can’t help you if you can’t read and want to be a cock.

          • J.j. Barrington

            “Only on XBox due to my Elite Controller, only way to play racing games in my opinon.”

            I’m sorry, what was that?

          • Purple_Dragon

            Yes, then you replied and then I replied saying obviously a controller is not better than a wheel, so yeah you are being a very good troll. Goodnight.

          • J.j. Barrington

            A wheel is still a controller.

            Maybe not say such dumb crap in the first place.

          • Purple_Dragon

            Ok cunt. Everyone knows what I meant.

          • J.j. Barrington

            Your feelings hurt?

          • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

            Well done! Bravo! A star for you!

  • Pieter Kruger

    1st Party game struggling to get 60 FPS/1080 on the PS4 Pro???

    • Not true. On the Pro, at 1080 it’s egffectively a 60fps lock. One the base hardware it can drop down to mid 40’s in especially busy scenes.

      • Pieter Kruger

        OK I see DF said only “minor drops”. But still, only 1080/60fps & FauxK/30fps on the Pro? Also no word yet on downsampling for the base PS4?

        • Hammersteyn

          No, nothing, it’s gonna be horrible, worst racing game ever, Why oh why did we ever think Playstations would be any good?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Especially when the Xbox has so many more games, better graphics, the works. Oh wait, I’m thinking about Netflix, not games.

          • Hammersteyn

            XD

  • HairyEwok

    Here I am still waiting for GT to arrive on PC.

    • Original Heretic

      You have Forza Horizon 3 on PC. I’d trade GT for FH any day of the week.

    • Fox1 – Retro

      Forza Apex on PC until Forza 7 launches.

  • Avithar

    i wonder if they will bring back those licence thigs, as hard as it was it actually thaught the player a thing or 2

    • J.j. Barrington

      Seeing as part of the purpose of this game is to get you ready for real racing, I’d assume something similar will be included.

      • Avithar

        i would buy a PS for this game hahahah

  • cloudzn

    Will it have local multiplayer?

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