Gran Turismo Sport review
Gran Turismo Sport on the PS4 takes car racing games to another level
Price: From £46 (PlayStation 4)
Over 20 years, Gran Turismo has become the one game that is taken seriously by gamers and car makers alike. Four years on from the launch of the PlayStation 4, Sony’s flagship racing game has finally arrived on the console. Gran Turismo Sport was released within weeks of arch-rivals Forza Motorsport 7 on the Xbox One and Project Cars 2 (PS4/Xbox), but the newcomer takes advantage of the PS4’s processing power to deliver some of the most stunning graphics yet seen from the series. And as the name suggests, GT Sport’s focus is on racing.
GT Sport has pared-back the car count this time around, with only around 160 cars in the game at release (in comparison, Forza Motorsport 7 on the Xbox One has over 700 cars), and they all focus on racing, as they are divided into classes that are designed to equalise their performance.
The car roster features staples of the series such as the Nissan GT-R, Toyota GT86 and Mitsubishi Evo X, although there are various different versions designed to compete in the different classes GT has created. As a result, there are some odd race mixes, with Bugatti Veyrons competing closely with Nissan GT-Rs and Mercedes-AMG GTs, even though the real-world models have vastly different performance.
There is a career mode like before, but at the moment it’s brief – constant game updates will expand this section over time – while most of GT Sport’s action at launch is focused online. And for that you’ll need to upgrade to a PlayStation Plus account, so expect to pay from £7 a month to £50 a year for a subscription.
The game’s focus on simulation means that players using the standard PS4 controller might wonder what the fuss is about. Using the traditional controller doesn’t make the most of GT’s handling model, and it’s not as much fun as some rivals when played like this. You can still get plenty of enjoyment, but you really need a steering wheel and pedals to make the most of GT Sport, as it has some of the best handling physics of any racing title.
On other games, online racing can tend to be a bit like banger racing, but in GT Sport there is a bit more discipline involved. Players must sit through a cloud of racing etiquette videos before they head online, while the standard of your driving online goes towards a ranking score that means you will race against other drivers of a similar level.
Of course, GT’s tradition for stunning visuals remains. The photography mode – where you can shoot cars in a variety of real-world locations called ‘Scapes’ – will waste hours of your day as you try to find the perfect picture. And it’s the same story with GT Sport’s livery editor. This is an excellent way to personalise your cars, or even create your own team colour scheme, and there are a vast array of decals and colours on offer. The livery editor is decent to use, although overall the game’s multitude of menus and sub-menus isn’t the most intuitive to use.
Regular updates will keep GT Sport at the cutting edge of racing games with new cars, tracks and racing challenges being added on a weekly basis. But the game’s chief focus on online competition means it doesn’t have the same breadth of appeal as its predecessors.
There are special editions of the game available at launch – with extra vehicles and other in-game bonuses – while dedicated racing gamers can get their hands on the official Gran Turismo steering wheel and pedal set, which has also gone on sale. The Thrustmaster T-GT is a cutting-edge wheel system, although it should be at £699.
The Thrustmaster T-GT is a substantial piece of kit, with a leather-trimmed wheel and all-metal pedals that feel like high-quality products. The wheel has shift paddles, but a separate gearlever is available at extra cost, and the wheel replicates all of the buttons found on a Dual Shock controller, including the joysticks. There are also four knurled rotary buttons that can also be assigned to additional functions in GT Sport.
The wheel is connected to a direct-drive electric motor and a host of electronics that deliver realistic force feedback, and movements directly correspond with your car in the game. Clipping apexes and running over kerbs sees the wheel shake and shudder instantly, while the steering wheel vibrates in your hands at all times. If you head into a corner too quickly then the wheel will unload to simulate a loss of grip from your car’s front wheels.
It’s an impressive piece of kit, but isn’t perfect. The shift paddles are set a little too far back from the wheel for smaller hands, and that near-£700 asking price is steep. While gaming pros will love it, casual players will get just as much fun from a wheel costing half as much.