Polyphony Digital's latest racing simulator crosses the finish line to widespread acclaim.
Over the last 14 years, developer Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo has developed a reputation as the racing series for serious car lovers. While Forza Horizon allows players to pull donuts in English fields or see how fast they could drive off a Mexican waterfall, Gran Turismo thrived on realism. It’s a series for those who care about their cars and want them to get through a race completely intact.
The critics’ consensus says that Gran Turismo 7, launched last week, is no different.
“In many ways, it feels like Gran Turismo 7 is a game meant for car novices like me,” GamesBeat’s Mike Minotti said. “It takes its time explaining the history and the ways of racing. There’s a core progression mode tied into a virtual café. Here, you open menu books that list different objectives. For example, you might have to win a specific race or collect certain cars. This system introduces you to the basics of GT7 in a way that’s thematically interesting.”
Gran Turismo 7 includes no shortage of ways to learn about the cars you’ll be driving, including short history lessons in the tutorial cafe when you complete themed car collections.
“These vignettes are clearly aimed at people with a more limited background in motoring history than I have but I still admire Polyphony’s efforts to try and add context to why certain cars are here,” IGN’s Luke Reilly said. “Some of these collections are very historically robust and can properly chart the lineage of certain iconic models.”
Reilly also noted the collections are more limited than he expected, relying heavily on multiple variations of specific car types instead of introducing brand-new cars. The issue was easy to overlook for TechRadar’s Rhys Wood, who noted the sheer variety of objectives to complete with each car means you never lack for something interesting to do.
Polyphony thoughtfully leads players through these tasks and the numerous game modes in a natural and easy-to-understand way, though.
“The cafe menus of automotive delights direct you towards races that will win you the cars you need, which is a great way of leading you by the hand through what would otherwise be a bewildering wealth of racing options,” GamesRadar’s Justin Towell said. “Progression events are clearly marked with a little yellow icon, and the gameplay itself in these races is very short - usually about 10 minutes a race.”
Knowledge and clarity are only part of what makes Gran Turismo 7 appealing, however. Nearly every review agreed Polyphony’s love of cars shines through in how well the cars handle.
“When you’re driving the cars it feels like you’re experiencing a real landmark for how cars should feel in video games,” Video Games Chronicle’s Jordan Middler said. “They’re the perfect weight, they feel incredibly rewarding to master, and there’s a tangible difference depending on what model you decide to race.”
The attention to detail extends to the car sounds, the environments, and even the weather, all of which VG 24/7’s Andi Hamilton said combined to make one of the most responsive and engaging racing games suited for both car fanatics and newcomers alike, though not everyone agreed. Where Towell enjoyed GT7’s attention to detail and slow pacing, Middler said the dated design was clunky and made it difficult to stick with the game outside of races.
“Everything about the game feels deeply dated, until you get behind the wheel and then it feels like an incredibly impressive driving simulator,” he said. “It’s just such a shame that you need to deal with so much needless hassle to arrive at your destination.”
Whatever the qualms with Gran Turimso 7’s history lessons and slow progression, Polyphony’s attention to detail--and decision to delay the game’s launch--seem to have paid off. Horizon Forbidden West might have received the most attention among Sony’s early-year releases, but Gran Turismo 7 is shaping up to be just as ambitious--and critically acclaimed.
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