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Gran Turismo Sport: hands on

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23

GT Sport (2)

The Gran Turismo franchise has been around since what feels like the dawn of time. Polyphony Digital first debuted the racer on the PlayStation 1 almost two decades ago, back in 1997. Since then, they’ve been releasing a new title every few years, with the latest being Gran Turismo 6, which launched on the PlayStation 3 in 2013.

Now though, three years later, Polyphony Digital are looking to bring that racing goodness they’re renown for to Sony’s current gen console. At an event at London yesterday, they unveiled Gran Turismo Sport. I was fortunate enough to be present at said event, meaning that I got to take their upcoming racer for a spin.

So… how did it handle? I hopped into the driver’s seat to find out…

GT Sport (1)

Though there will be several modes available in GT Sport when it launches – including the traditional career experience for example – I only had access to the arcade and time trial options. I found the lack of multiplayer availability disappointing to be honest, as I was surrounded by dozens of other journalists at the time. They would’ve all made fantastic opponents! No matter, I decided to give arcade a bash, and was thrown up against 19 AI enemies instead.

Look, I’m most certainly not the greatest driver to drive walk this earth, so by all means, I should’ve selected an easier difficulty (I chose intermediate instead of beginner), and I should’ve enabled some sort of brake and steering assists (I chose neither). It’s just that with a crowd of spectators at my back, my ego was on the line, and I couldn’t afford to look like a complete beginner.

Thankfully, that never happened. Instead, I ended up looking like a complete fool. My driving  was simply awful! What made the experience all the more embarrassing was that I had chosen the Mazda Roadster – one of the slower cars on offer.

GT Sport (3)

I careened off the road effortlessly on  the first corner of the Nürburgring – one of the six tracks on offer during my demo. The same happened on the next corner, and the next, until I decided to take them all safely… at a crawl. I was no longer spinning out of control at least, but I also wasn’t going anywhere fast.

By the time I reached the end of the track however (around a dozen or so minutes later), it felt like something in my brain had clicked into place. Those last few corners were still rough, but they were taken decently enough that the people behind me at least no longer had reason to guffaw.

It dawned on me that I actually hadn’t touched Gran Turismo (or a proper racing simulator for that matter) for a while. All I needed apparently, was a warm up to remember exactly how it played. There’s definitely a sense of familiarity there, so if you’ve dabbled with a previous title in the franchise, you should feel right at home. This is not to say that newcomers aren’t welcome. It’s just that returning fans will feel like they’re hugging an old friend, whereas newbies, well, it’ll probably feel like an awkward handshake, at least at first.

GT Sport (4)

Anyways, after a somewhat respectable finish, my confidence spiked tenfold. I started up a new race, and instead of moving on to something slightly faster than the Mazda Roadster, I scrolled all the way to the right, and decided to try out the Bugatti Vision.

What a beast of a car! I fully expected the roar of its engine to rumble through my ears when the race started but… nothing. The sound of this dream vehicle came out more like a the angry meow of a kitten. It was very underwhelming to say the least. Granted, my immediate surroundings weren’t exactly whisper quiet, and nor were the headphones I wore the loudest, but I couldn’t help feeling that Gran Turismo Sport’s sounds could do with a bit of fine tuning. Something about it just seemed a tad off – which is unfortunately par for the course with Gran Turismo.

Regardless, I wasn’t there to listen to the sounds of the vehicles (though a nice, hearty VROOM never goes amiss in my book), I was there to race. The Bugatti Vision was a lot faster than the Mazda I drove before it, but somehow, I managed to keep it under control. Alright yes, I still had the odd spinout here and there, but my driving had honestly improved significantly in the mere fifteen or so minutes I had played. Thinking what I could achieve with more practice, say, over a good few hours, got me really excited.

GT Sport (5)

And then I moved over to time trial with an Audi R8 LMS in tow, and then the racing bug really bit me. I had settled into a physical pod at the event, and even though my long legs made the ride uncomfortable, I didn’t get up for nearly an hour straight.

Time trial, as you all know, is a mode where the same track is done over and over again, with the goal of improving lap time. I’d chosen a small circuit (whose name is eluding me at the moment), where my first loop took me over a minute to complete.

After, I don’t know, forty or so laps, I managed to shave down my best time to just 47 seconds. I couldn’t believe it. Not that I’d improved my time by 15 seconds mind you (when compared to my first ever lap on that track), but that I remained in that seat, transfixed, for such a respectable period of time, stuck on the same circuit.

GT Sport (6)

I kept telling myself that I’d go around one more time. Dammit, I spun out. Let me go around once more. Oh I screwed up this corner, guess I’ll have to do another lap to make up for it. Ok one more time. Shoot, I clipped the grass on this particular lap. I can definitely do better! Just once more for old time’s sake… It seems so silly to mention this, now that I think about it. I mean, all racing games have a time trial mode, right? Certainly, but there was something about Gran Turismo Sport’s driving that I found mesmerizing.

The only way I can explain it is, if I could spend that much time on a single track, doing so many laps with just one car, how much time will this new racer from Polyphony Digital steal from me when it launches? It’ll have all the content I played at the event (with my limited time), and more. That career mode in particular, I know from past experience, can suck away at a person’s life relentlessly.

GT Sport (7)

So yes, I’m quite keen on Gran Turismo Sport. I don’t think it does too much in the way of innovation (at least not that I got to witness firsthand), but in terms of actual racing, I think it nails it quite well. How it will fare though, compared to other industry giants, is a big mystery. Gran Turismo is no longer the sole name in the racing industry, at least not in the way it used to be all those years ago. It now has Forza, Project Cars, and many others to stand up against.

Are Polyphony Digital up to the challenge? We’ll just have to wait and see when they launch their game on November the 15th later this year.

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Last Updated: May 20, 2016

23 Comments

  1. Nice write up! It must be said though that GT is very alluring when you are using a proper wheel and setup. Maybe not so much without it, but on the wheels it’s pure driving bliss.

    Reply

    • Fox1 - Retro

      May 20, 2016 at 09:30

      Lans will validate this claim in due course.

      Reply

    • hairyknees

      May 21, 2016 at 11:12

      Thanks friend <3

      Reply

  2. Ir0nseraph

    May 20, 2016 at 08:10

    And so it begins, the first game I want releasing in November ..

    Reply

  3. MacDoodle

    May 20, 2016 at 08:20

    Unfortunately Polyphony have never really been very good at getting engine notes right, they should of taken some advice from the guys who worked on Drive club

    Reply

    • Stéfan le Roux

      May 20, 2016 at 08:27

      I agree completely. Hopefully GT7 will focus a bit more on this aspect of the game. I sometimes wish they could focus a bit less on the quantity of cars and focus more on things like the sound. That said I am so excited for GT!

      Reply

      • Pieter Kruger

        May 20, 2016 at 08:53

        I believe they hired one of the sound engineers that worked on Forza so the sound should be fine!

        Reply

      • MacDoodle

        May 20, 2016 at 08:56

        I was so excited to drive the Focus ST in GT5 just to hear that awesome 5 pot warble and was greeted by the sound of a drowning cat. Still I’m also excited for GT7 hopefully Polyphony have done their homework this time.

        Reply

        • Stéfan le Roux

          May 20, 2016 at 09:01

          Let’s hope. I wasn’t aware that they hired a sound engineer from Forza so that bodes well. You would imagine that the sound assets from Drive Club must be available to the GT team though so maybe in the final release well see some of that in the game or maybe we just need to be patient for GT7 to come out.

          Reply

  4. VampyreSquirrel

    May 20, 2016 at 08:28

    You didn’t post the helmet pic!!!! Cool article though, game looks amazing.

    Funny story… the last GT game I played was 2 (I think) on the PS1.

    Reply

    • hairyknees

      May 21, 2016 at 11:12

      I should’ve 😛 thanks!

      Reply

  5. Spathi

    May 20, 2016 at 08:33

    Good write up! I was getting worried when you said you should have enable braking assist…. 😮

    They still have 5 months to fine tune the game, and Polyphony is excellent in supporting their games after launch, so I’m super excited for what is about to come. Lots of people don’t like the “boring” driving of GT games, but I love doing time trials and online it is a blast!

    Reply

    • hairyknees

      May 21, 2016 at 11:11

      Thank you!! 🙂

      Reply

  6. HairyEwok

    May 20, 2016 at 08:48

    Seriously though, this games graphics is just wow… With some of the screenshots they released I can honestly not tell if it’s real of not.

    As for gameplay, I loved the old fashioned GT where you purchased your old crappy 2nd hand vehicle and worked your way up to the elite vehicles. With this GT it seems that you’ll be able to purchase some high class vehicle straight up and customize them. Going more professional circuit eSportsey… But then again most games try to head into eSports since it gives the game more longevity.

    Reply

    • Fox1 - Retro

      May 20, 2016 at 09:31

      PD has been doing ultra real screenshots since GT2 days. Masters at the art.

      Reply

  7. RinceThis

    May 20, 2016 at 11:13

    Grand yawn more like *runs

    Reply

  8. RinceThis

    May 20, 2016 at 11:13

    Well written Cabbage!

    Reply

    • hairyknees

      May 21, 2016 at 11:11

      Thanks friend <3

      Reply

  9. Darren Peach

    May 20, 2016 at 13:27

    Let’s hope they are a little more forgiving with those that don’t like using a steering wheel. I guess that’s why Forza is a little more appealing. The racing cars are a little more forgiving with a controller.

    Reply

  10. Strawman Jim

    May 20, 2016 at 17:18

    Where is Tourist Trophy 2…. Polyphony? GIVE ME TOURIST TROPHY 2!!!

    Reply

  11. The_Ghost_Skull

    May 23, 2016 at 09:03

    There is a few thing Gran turismo needs, things that Forza had for years now. One of them is now a freakin good photo mode. But like Matthew said, thendound is underwhelming, it needs that actual car sounds. Free look camera, decent home screen that focuses on…wait for it…the car you are driving.

    Reply

  12. Francois Knoetze

    May 23, 2016 at 09:09

    after all this time I was hoping GT could get their audio right…

    Reply

  13. Ash

    August 24, 2016 at 07:35

    The thing thats getting me is. One can we do online without the FIA crap and just enjoy. Also will we beable to tune the cars set them up to ower liking?.

    Reply

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