GT Sport is the best racing game available on PlayStation 4, but it is also the most controversial chapter in the series, a strange digital experiment that sacrifices singleplayer career on the eve of online challenges and eSports
During the last week we wore our favorite digital helmet to try out the adrenaline challenges of Gran Turismo Sport, returning to devouring the virtual asphalt and so many joys, and a plethora of concerns, gave us during the beta phase testing organized by Sony in the days immediately preceding the title launch.
The gameplay dynamics experienced with the final version of the new Polyphony Digital project confirmed the beta impressions and gave us the image of a somewhat immature title, a driving simulator with a well-defined character but still looking for a purpose.
With the review of GT Sport that we propose today, we will try to give you a summary of all the emotions, the sensations and, why not, the anger that has characterized our adventure on the circuits and the slopes of the last high creature content of octans (and love) signed by master Kazunori Yamauchi.
The original approach adopted by the Polyphony Digital team to bring the Gran Turismo Sport gameplay experience to the one of modern eSport racing games and online races deeply affects every aspect of the title, such as the driving system, the engine physical and behavior of the racing cars.
Before analyzing the different options and challenges that affect GTplay’s singleplayer and multiplayer modes, it is important to explore the aspects of so-called handling and, more generally, the dynamics of gameplay governing single and network races.
In Gran Turismo Sport, driving experience can be customized through a range of modifiable parameters at will to allow fans and less experienced players to have fun as they believe, thus increasing the level of challenge returned by competitions against the CPU and other users on the net. As a result, even changing only one of the various aid settings, the driving model is deeply altered to adapt it to the powerful physical engine written by Polyphony Digital to emphasize the simulation aspects and to make the behavior of its own high-speed betting even more realistic ‘setting curves to contacts between the various cars.
As for physics, it is possible to notice the efforts made by Japanese authors to marry the immediacy of faster racing games to the simulation needs of the most demanding drivers: either using the joystick, steering wheel or PS VR, the gaming experience results be rather “light” despite the steep learning curve and the need to study the brakes and trajectories to be made in each single curve of the proposed circuits.
Regardless of the power of the selected car, there is also a clear lack of a real “speed sensation”, an aspect to consider and that puts GT Sport in a clear contrast with many other such video games, starting with Forza Motorsport.
Singleplayer and Multiplayer Features
Gran Turismo Sport is a two-headed lion: the first head of this curious digital chimera roars strongly with the richness of the challenges offered by the Sports mode, while the second meow timidly blames a single-player, rather sterile content module.
GT Sport’s single-player dimension is almost exclusively around the Arcade module, a microcosm that encapsulates all of the challenges that can be tackled offline such as single CPU races, time trials, VR tours of the track and split-screen races against a friend.
Alongside the Arcade Challenges, we find the three Campaign modules, the Guide Academy (with tutorials that allow you to acquire the leading experience and skills to start competing), Missions Challenges (with tests designed to refine driving techniques of players), and Circuit Experience.
The absence of a Career is partially offset by Sport Mode, with daily competitions and championships where players around the world are winning the race by following a hard (but fun) program that includes trial sessions, qualifying rounds fast, pre-race phases and, ultimately, real challenges with realistic F1-style penalties. Each race in the Sports mode contributes to raising the level by Pilot and Sports ratings, two factors that can identify the player and make him participate in the interactive mood of GT Sport enthusiasts.
The online and offline experience unlocks constant bonuses that give the player the opportunity to discover all the 140 cars and 19 tracks that make up the Gran Turismo Sport launch offer: all title cars can be purchased and collected through the Brand Central, a digital space where to unlock cars and visit virtual museums to discover the recent (and less recent) history of major automakers in North America, Europe, South Korea and Japan.
Graphics and Sound
The maniacal care for the details that always distinguishes Polyphony Digital’s work is also found in Gran Turismo Sport, especially in the graphic representation of the artistic and technical elements of the title.
Visually speaking, in fact, GT Sport is a real blaze of well-defined scenes, polygonal models at the limit of photorealism and advanced graphic filters and functionalities, especially on PS4 Pro where you can appreciate the greater depth of color guaranteed by HDR, a more fluid gameplay and high resolution textures.
From the details of the car’s interior to the visual depth of the circuits, from the fluency of the play scenes to the poetic play of reflexes of bodywork hit by the sun’s rays, the end result also meets the most demanding users: the only criticism we can do at work Japanese authors relate to the absence of the variable weather, dynamic weather, and damage to the bodywork.
Such shortcomings, however, become less annoying considering how good Yamauchi and his companions are in the integration of the livery editor, PS VR support and, above all, the Scapes module, a “Photo Mode under Steroids” that allows users to take digital photographs of unlocked cars by choosing from about 1000 high-definition scenarios and setting parameters such as depth of field, motion blur, graphic filters, global lighting, and the location of the bumpers inside the photo.
GT Sport is a video game that misses any classification. In the long years since the announcement of the project to its effective publication, Yamauchi’s interactive work has acquired forms, languages and styles other than those that have charcterized the previous chapters of this iconic saga made by Polyphony Digital.
The Gran Turismo brand has always been the symbol and, in some respects, an active protagonist of the ongoing transformations in the field of digital entertainment. Every title in the series has left an indelible mark in the increasingly fierce racing game industry, pushing competition to always give the best: albeit with high and low scores and results not always up to expectations of audiences and critics, any Yamauchi projects have been a valuable source of inspiration for entire generations of developers, a wealth of ideas that we can easily find in dozens of other competing video games.
GT Sports, for example, does not set new quality standards and for sure is not a revolutionary step in the genre, but decides to move away from past formulas (based on the clear division between singleplayer experience and multiplayer modes) to give us a wider and brave vision in a context which combines the simulation mechanics typical of the series with the competitive spirit of eSports.
Only with time, and with the integration of promising post-launch content from Yamauchi, we will understand if the path taken by Polyphony Digital has been the right one or not; however, Gran Turismo Sport can be considered, by far, the best driving simulation available for PlayStation 4, PS4 Pro and PS VR owners.