It’s taken 8 years for Gran Turismo 7 to arrive and finally iterate on one of gaming’s biggest racing franchises with a new numbered entry. That’s been 8 years for other competitors to grow and flourish, like Forza Motorsport and Project Cars, which you think might undercut the GT7‘s long-awaited release. What’s most impressive about Gran Turismo 7 is that it still feels like a singular experience, separate from everything else, largely due to its focus, passion, and classic GT quirks. It also hits on the 25th anniversary for the Gran Turismo series, very much feeling like a celebration of everything that came before as well.
I’ve played the Gran Turismo series since the very first entry on PS1, which was my introduction to the original DualShock controller as well, and since then I’ve kept up with the series. I’m by no means an expert on cars, or immersed in the culture of racing or anything like that, but Gran Turismo has always provided for me a fun way to engage with the sport, and Gran Turismo 7 is no different.
Gran Turismo 7 builds on the strengths of the series, and what players have come to expect. Of course, the big one for the series has always been the presentation, and indeed the visuals are gorgeous. There’s meticulously crafted car models that showcase a wide variety of brands and designs from across the world and across the decades. Replays, in particular are consistently impressive on PlayStation 5, particularly in the Ray-Tracing visual mode, with dynamic cinematic cameras that showcase both the immaculately rendered vehicles and the vibrant tracks they race along. A special mode available in your Garage enables you to take almost flawlessly real pictures and video of your cars, through a clever blend of real photography and rendered graphics.
There’s a range of real tracks represented in Gran Turismo 7, including Australia’s Mount Panorama, as well as famous locations like the Nurburgring, Daytona International Speedway and the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. They’re all lovingly rendered of course, but as an old GT fan I was especially excited to play the spectacularly upgraded designs of some of the series’ most famous fictional locations included in GT7, like High Speed Ring, Deep Forest Raceway, Trial Mountain and the same Special Stage route from the last few GT entries.
The main appeal of Gran Turismo 7 is in its central career mode, which revolves around collecting the game’s 424 cars by competing in races and championships around the world, developing your skills in licence tests, visiting used car shops and high-end showrooms and tuning your cars to your satisfaction with a wide array of parts and options. The mode has been a staple of the numbered Gran Turismo entries, and it’s absolutely the star of the show here. There’s a huge array of cool cars to collect, a staggering amount of depth for tuners to tinker with in the game’s extensive menus, and plenty of both relaxing and challenging racing to engage in with Gran Turismo‘s tight physics. Everything loads at lightning speed too thanks to the PS5’s SSD.
The DualSense’s haptics also contribute a new level to Gran Turismo that just wasn’t really possible in previous versions, if you didn’t own a pricey steering wheel. It’s somewhat hard to describe, but cars do feel different, communicated through vibrations and resistance, with noticeable differences in how brakes operate and how the ABS kicks in.
While there’s a lot for fans to enjoy in Gran Turismo 7, new players might find themselves confused by an oddball introduction and onboarding process. The game initially kicks you into a new mode, ‘Music Rally’, which is essentially just a kind of checkpoint race? Cool remixes of classical music play as you drive, with the idea being that you need to keep passing checkpoints in time with the song and make it as far as you can before the track ends. It’s a relaxing novelty for sure, and in fact it’s neat to dip into every now and then, for breaks from the main racing content of GT mode, but it’s still a kind of confusing thing to throw players into straight away.
It’s also a little weird how Gran Turismo 7 guides players, with the inclusion of the Gran Turismo Cafe. Essentially, players visit the cafe not for coffee, but for ‘menus’ which outline objectives they need to fulfil like collecting certain cars or competing in certain races. Completing menus earns you further rewards, as well as history about both the automotive industry and the sport. It’s a mission mode cloaked in a way that you’ll either find oddly charming or just odd, reading through a fair amount of unvoiced text dialogue from a range of helpers as you progress.
Fortunately, I fall on the side of finding Gran Turismo 7‘s idiosyncrasies charming. There’s pure passion for cars that shines through every aspect of Gran Turismo, feeling like a curated deep dive into motorsport from a best mate who lives and breathes it. You can dip your toes in by just following the menus, engage with races and collecting off your own bat, or go tuning crazy if you know enough about it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know much about cars, as you can always rely on the ‘PP” rating to do the hard work for you in rating your car and helping match it to appropriate races. Tournaments with specific requirements are are clearly laid out in the clean interface too. For multiplayer, the Sport mode from Gran Turismo Sport on PS4 returns, which given its popularity in that title, should find similar support in this new version.
Mostly, though, Gran Turismo 7 is a great companion for chilling out at home after a long day at work. The core gameplay loop of winning races, collecting cars, modifying them to increase their PP rating and take on newer races with even faster cars, it’s all incredibly addictive. Gran Turismo also features a eclectic array of soothing classical and lounge music, rock and rap songs featuring Idris Elba. It would have been cool to see a few more legacy tracks from older GT games for the fans, outside of Moon Over The Castle (which gets repeated three times in the intro), especially as this is meant to be a celebration of the last 25 years, but what’s here is makes for a pretty solid Gran Turismo soundtrack.
Gran Turismo 7 demonstrates that the series still has a massive place in today’s racing game landscape, and it’s still at the top of the tree for racing simulation games. It retains the unique appeal that’s made the franchise the staple of the genre, especially during the PS1/PS2-era, and offers engaging and thrilling racing experiences to both gearheads and motorsport virgins. It has some weird idiosyncrasies that may not entirely jive with you, but if you give Gran Turismo 7 enough time, you’ll find a deep, addictive and satisfying simulation racer that’s as enjoyable to play as it is to simply watch.
-A wealth of races, collectible cars and challenges in the main career mode -Gorgeous graphics and replays, and ways to take pretty pictures of cars -Leans into the elements Gran Turismo has always done well - realism, depth and addictive gameplay
-Some odd onboarding for new players, and Music Rally is a strange addition