For the longest time Gran Turismo has been a series that swallows hundreds of hours of playtime through its vast and intricate campaigns. A slow progression complete with garages housing hundreds of cars has kept the PlayStation exclusive a popular mainstay in its genre. GT Sport is a vastly different creature, an evolution, and it may not be the game you were looking for.
It's been several years since the beloved series had an entry, the last being Gran Turismo 6 which was relatively well received but criticised for its lack of innovation. The latest entry, Gran Turismo Sport is the complete opposite of its predecessor, so much so that fans of the numbered series may be left polarized by the new direction. Adapting to the times GT Sport serves up a heavy focus on online racing and e-sports, pushing the series into a bold new era.
A core philosophy that series director Kazunori Yamauchi and his team at Polyphony Digital have always held close to their hearts is the notion that motorsport is an art form. Previous games have often been preluded with ambiguous footage of metal being melded to form iconic vehicles, a sense of class and abstract ambience forms the backbone of the experience. It comes as no surprise that GT Sport still holds this ideology in the way it presents itself. From the tranquil and often obscure soundtrack to the various museum photobooks you can scroll through to the scapes mode, which allows players to place their car in one of hundreds of idyllic photos. GT Sport feels like a Gran Turismo game, but this is where the comparisons end.
In a move more emblematic of the current trends in gaming, GT Sport's core focus is multiplayer, which we will delve into shortly, but for gamers looking to enjoy a fleshed out campaign and singleplayer experience, there is less on offer than expected. The 'campaign' component of the game is a bare-bones experience and is more focused on refining your driving abilities than it is on extending your gameplay time. Broken down into three separate categories, a driving school, challenge mode and track mastery, these modes are enjoyable but left me wanting for the most part. Each mode has various tiers which involve completing events within certain times, the driving school, for example, will charge you with mastering certain manoeuvres in an allotted time, beat or exceed these and you will be rewarded with bronze, silver or gold rewards netting driving points, mileage, and XP for your profile. Initially, I was skeptical of these, but after a few more friends joined in and started setting times it became an enjoyable challenge to best or beat their times. The challenge mode has a bit more to offer, from catch-up challenges to full-blown races and in a variety of cars not yet unlocked or owned in your garage. Track mastery is quite self-explanatory and follows the same tiered system as the previous two modes mentioned and focuses on helping you master each track on offer, turn by turn.
There isn't all that much to master unfortunately as GT Sport's track selection is rather limited. There are 17 in total with various layouts and each track is well presented. A number of real life tracks mixed in with Gran Turismo's trend of several fantasy locations are present and it must be said these imaginary locations are well thought out and designed. Visually they all look gorgeous, there is a lot of life and detail in each location but GT Sport hinders its depth with a lack of dynamic weather as seen in its competitors. Fans of the usually large garages from previous entries will also be dissapointed to know that there really arent many cars on offer either. 150 cars are available, of which several are duplicates with various spec, exterior and livery changes which is a bit of a let down. The highly publicized Vision Gran Turismo line-up is enjoyable, a selection of designs from famous manufacturers from around the world, but I found it hard to connect with these designs on a personal level. The bombastic and eccentric lines are entertaining but it feels more like Speedracer than it does GT when you strap into the McLaren Vision GT and find yourself lying belly down in the cockpit. It may not be my cup of tea but technology and design fans could very well find themselves stocking up on cash to purchase one of these hyper-futuristic sets of wheels.
Unlike the ugliest and most recent trend in AAA gaming, there are no micro-transactions or loot boxes in GT Sport, everything is earned through sheer mileage, performance, and pace. Everything you do in GT boils down to your personal profile and a return on your time investment. After 5 hours I had reached level 10, unlocking new tracks, liveries, and cars for purchase and for the dedicated few who sink their teeth into GT Sport, there is much to be earned. The best way to rack up these is through the games core mode, the multiplayer.
One tablespoon Star Wars, a dollop of motorsport, a splash of Metal Gear. And a pinch of space magic. Mix and blend. Smashing! Is also running for congress.
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Sony Interactive Entertainment
17 October 2017
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