HSV Adventure Racing (Beetle Adventure Racing outside Australia) consumed my childhood. Winning races, unlocking cars and setting records was an exhilarating experience like no other. As time went on, split-screen multiplayer went from the typical experience to more of a novelty, and online multiplayer became the standard. However, those games don’t suit the needs of every player, and after a rocky ride with GT Sport, Gran Turismo 7 returns the franchise to its single-player roots. While it’s not perfect, it’s a great step in the right direction.
“Initially, Music Rally seems like a good idea.”
Gran Turismo 7 begins with two different modes, and right off the bat, you are thrust into one of them as a tutorial. Music Rally is the newest mode in the game and tries to add a spin to the traditional format. It attempts to change up the classic Time Trial structure of seeing how long you can last before the large countdown runs out — I’m sure most people would be familiar with this structure if they have ever played an arcade racing game. However, instead of the usual seconds format, Music Rally uses ‘beats’.
Although, this model doesn’t really change the status quo in any major way. Your objective is still the same, and you must try to cover as much track distance as possible before the timer hits zero. As the song’s BPM (Beats Per Minute) increases, you too must pick up the pace and drive faster to keep up. When the song ends, your travel distance is what is calculated as your score, so there is no infinite racing mode where you can aim for a higher score.
“Once you start playing World Map, you’ll probably forget that Music Rally even exists.”
Initially, Music Rally seems like a good idea, but after you realise that there are only six different races and you’re locked into racing with specific cars and music, then it feels lacklustre. Utilising Spotify on the PlayStation or a wider array of genres is a missed opportunity as I don’t think there was a single song I actively wanted to listen to. It seems like this alternative mode was only added to cater to the older generation of people as I don’t think anyone in their mid-20s would be caught dead listening to any of the songs. Unfortunately, if the arcade driving feel is what you want, then you should stay far away from Gran Turismo 7 anyway as this isn’t where the game excels.
Fortunately, World Map is the other mode in Gran Turismo 7, and once you start playing this, you’ll probably forget that Music Rally even exists. This is the standard mode you’d expect to find in any racing game. There is a large map with heaps of clickable places of interest where you can race, buy cars, complete missions and much more. However, Gran Turismo 7 is a serious racing game, and if you expect to be driving a Lamborghini after a couple of hours of gameplay, then you’re going to be disappointed.
Unlocking cars is the biggest novelty in almost every racing game, and Gran Turismo 7 has this in abundance. With more than 400 cars available, it’s one of the most content-rich games on the market. Heading to the Brand Central area, you can select between three continental areas; America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. There’s Ford, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Mazda, and many, many more. There’s even Tesla for those who can’t afford an electric car in real life.
If you can’t find the car you are after there, then you can head to the Legend Cars section and find some incredibly unique cars that you have probably never seen before. Used Cars is another option if you still can’t decide on a car from the other two sections. Although, with the other two sections being based around brand new cars, I actively avoided buying a second-hand car in the latter half of the game.
“In Gran Turismo 7, the Cafe system can also be incredibly repetitive.”
While there are plenty of options for cars, you won’t be able to afford your dream car — unless this is a Suzuki Swift — right off the bat. The game alienates itself from casual players by locking cars and modes behind progression. The Cafe is where you receive quest-like objectives and it’s the main way the single-player story mode progresses.
As you complete tasks, you unlock cars and new places of interest on the world map. Therefore, if you bought the game purely to enjoy the game’s multiplayer, then this isn’t going to fill your needs, at least straight away. The Cafe menu system can also be incredibly repetitive as most of the time it just sends you to complete races. This makes sense considering it’s a racing game, but it feels pointless having the extra step of reporting back to the Cafe every time you complete a task. This is especially odd if you consider that all the conversation is text-based and there is no actual voice acting.
“Driving through Tokyo feels like a dream.”
Gran Turismo 7 labels itself as a driving simulator game, and for its incredibly niche audience, it hits the mark. I’ve honestly never played a racing game as in-depth and stunning as this. Firstly, you play the game sitting in the car, rather than third-person (unless you change it manually in each race). While I usually play in a view where I can see the whole car, the game’s graphics make this an easy transition. Fortunately, if you want to play it the other way you can as it can be easily changed while you are racing by pressing R1.
Furthermore, the race designs are absolutely breathtaking. Driving through Tokyo feels like a dream. Previously, I’d always associate driving in the rain as stressful, but in Gran Turismo, it’s all very soothing. With the dynamic weather system, you might start the race when it’s sunny and end the race with the windscreen wipers flying across your screen. This level of detail even made me want to just drive through the landscapes to check them all out in a stress-free environment. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is available, but there’s always room in the future.
“As you slow down, the adaptive triggers replicate the feel of the brakes locking up.”
The amount of car customisation in the game is insane. The Tuning Shop allows you to change all sorts of things on your car, from a weight reduction on the chassis to the amount of grip you want on the tyres. You can even take it one step further in the garage and adjust the individual settings of the suspension or body height in millimetres. There are endless amounts of customisation for those who need it, and this is one of the coolest features of the game.
Before the game was released, the developers used the knowledge of Michelin and other random people, like Lewis Hamilton, to replicate the feel of driving. With the Dualsense controller haptics, you can get pretty close. The controller is constantly vibrating while you’re driving. This allows you to feel the road underneath you and how rough it is, especially when you forget to brake and get thrown off the track. You also receive feedback when changing gears, which varies slightly depending on what car you are driving. Furthermore, the adaptive triggers also play a big role in the immersion. As you slow down, the triggers replicate the feel of the brakes locking up and provide a nice vibration for the car struggling to find traction. This is a really great feature as not everyone will be playing the game with a steering wheel.
“Unlocking all the cars isn’t exactly a feasible option in Gran Turismo 7.”
Something that has plagued gaming in the last few years is microtransactions, and boy does Gran Turismo 7 really take first prize. You can buy credits, the in-game currency, with real money to obtain different cars. While you never have to indirectly do this, if you want to unlock all the cars, you probably will.
In the Legends Car menu, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta ’38 is priced at 20,000,000 credits. Obviously, this would take an incredible amount of playtime to reach this. If you were to buy this with real money, it would equivalate to around AU$300. Thus, unlocking all the cars isn’t exactly a feasible option in Gran Turismo 7. At the time of writing, the game currently has less than a 2/10 User Score on Metacritic. The developers have added some recent currency changes, but I think it’s going to take a lot of changes to make grinding for rare cars worth it.
Gran Turismo 7 is a triple-A game and it feels like one, which is hard to say for a lot of other recently released games. If you’re after a truly groundbreaking driving simulator for a cheap price, then you might have to wait for a sale. However, with the state of microtransactions in the game, it’s probably wise to wait for a bit longer if you enjoy older cars.