Gran Turismo has always had a special place in my heart. I lost countless hours to GT2 back on the PS1 as a kid and I clearly remember being unable to concentrate in class because all I could think about was conquering the Laguna Seca’s S-Turn license test with a Dodge Viper. It was much more than a simple racer, well, much more than what I was used to and the game’s career mode, or Gran Turismo mode as it was known, provided an in-depth experience like no other. The series has had its many ups and downs over the years, but that soft spot for it has always remained inside of me. Even though I was quite hesitant going into Sport, knowing what it had to offer, I felt like, if I could overlook Gran Turismo 6 being filled with outrageous Microtransactions and find enjoyment therein, I could most definitely do the same here. Unfortunately, what love I had for the franchise, feels like it was almost completely sucked out the moment I booted up the game.
I started playing GT Sport at a time when the servers were down. During this period, I was greeted by a prompt stating that I would be unable to save the game unless I was online. Majority of the game’s modes were locked except Arcade which consisted of the usual racing modes such as single race, time trial and split screen among others. That was all I was able to do. Even the livery was disabled and I was unable to do something as simple as customizing a car’s looks. Thankfully, a separate save file was provided to press which unlocked most of the game’s content, save the online mode. It was at this point, that I was able to dip my feet in the water, but it was only enough to make my toes wet.
GT Sport has a campaign mode, but to call it a campaign would be like calling a Big Mac a gourmet burger. It consists of 3 sections, namely, the Driving School, which teaches you the finer details and techniques of racing. Mission Challenge is just a series of driving challenges. Finally, the Circuit Experience, where you would learn the ins and outs of the game’s various race tracks. You’ll earn in-game currency for completing them, which you can use to buy new cars, but you’ll also be rewarded with cars upon reaching certain milestones. There’s nothing more I can say about the campaign, really. It’s there, it’s a fun diversion, but it’s a sorry excuse of an offline mode.
The livery on the other hand seems to offer a lot of depth when it comes to customizing the looks of your car. There are quite a lot of decals to choose from and even more can purchased with another currency called Mileage. Mileage increases the more you drive and complete races, and while the marketplace is quite barebones right now, there is the potential to add some great visual customization items in the future. I enjoyed the livery system a lot, and you can really see how much detail and effort was put in these cars. You can even superimpose your ride on a photo of a real world location. The end result looks incredible.
Thankfully, despite the clear lack of offline content, I really can’t fault the game too much when it comes to the actual racing. Cars handle like a dream and while the selection of vehicles might not seem like a lot compared to say, Forza 7, every single car just has its own unique feel and rhythm, to the point where unlocking a new car immediately made me want to jump into a race so that I could test drive it. Unlike Project Cars 2, which I reviewed a little while ago, I had no issues playing with a controller right out of the gate. The level of synchronicity between the feedback of what you’re doing with the analog sticks and what’s happening on screen is so spot-on that I never once wished I was playing with a steering wheel. It always felt easy to just hop in and drive, while still providing ample avenues when I was looking for a tougher, more intense experience with AI that was able to provide an enjoyable challenge.
I had a brief discussion with a friend of mine about Gran Turismo and how the series has always wanted you to get better at racing while still enjoying the experiencing and never to the detriment of the player. Sport carries on that tradition, and at its core still feels like a celebration of cars and racing which was made out of love, for fans, but as a package on a whole, it’s just not enough. I might’ve felt better had the price tag been a bit cheaper, but to pay this amount of money for a racer, even though it’s a pretty one, with hardly any offline content and a tutorial and challenge mode masked as a campaign, is quite honestly, a bit insulting. Hell, there’s not even the option to add dynamic weather or time progression to races, and especially seeing how Project Cars 2 handled that, it’s unacceptable.
When I finally managed to get some time in with GT Sport’s ‘Sport mode’, I ended up with more mixed feelings than before. See, Sport mode consists of two sections, Daily Races and Championships. Championships seems to be the really exciting part of this mode, but unfortunately, the first real race for it is just under a month away, so the only option right now is to do Daily Races. These are basically ranked races where you climb leaderboards and rank up in two categories namely Driver, which pertains to how well you do in races, and Sportsmanship, which has got to do with how clean you drive. Depending on your rank, you will be matched up with players of a similar level. So the better you drive, the better your chances of being grouped with skilled racers. That’s the theory behind the matchmaking, in practice, however, it’s a bit of a different story.
Starting out, you’re going to be grouped with a lot of different types of drivers. My first few races were absolute torture. I kept getting edged out off the track and at one point I swear I drove with a bunch people who thought they were playing Burnout. This, however, is obviously no fault of the game, but other racer’s bad driving can sometimes be the cause of your overall rating taking a nose dive. The best thing you can do is try and get a good qualifying time so that you have fewer cars to deal with in front of you.
To make matters worse, races occur in 20-minute intervals. I could only really join a race in 20 minutes. Given, you can do qualifying laps in the interim, but I had already raced on this track a few times before, and I was in no mood to drive around by my lonesome. Enough time had finally passed, and I was able to join a 10-minute race, which meant it was only 10 minutes to the next race afterwards. This is a personal gripe, but I am not scheduling my life around a game. Even the touted championships have set times during the day for when they’re occurring in the future.
I haven’t been this frustrated with a game in quite some time. GT Sport asks way too much of you and gives way too little in return. There was just not much to really get me invested. I can’t always schedule and wait a set amount of time to join online ranked races. I know that there will be people who are willing to give this game their all and that they probably won’t agree with this review, and while I enjoy GT Sport’s core racing mechanics immensely, it feels too much like a second job – but with little to no payoff.
Last Updated: October 23, 2017