Review Copy Provided by PlayStation In some ways Gran Turismo has been a victimof its own ambition.
While the series remained strong on the PS3, its attempts to hold on to an ever-increasing car count resulted in an inconsistent sense of qualityin GT 5 and GT 6.
Now, as the series finally graces the PS4, Gran Turismo Sport is noticeably scaled back, but it’s also far more focused and consistent.
While GT Sport is positioned towardscompetitive players, it recognizes the need to accommodatea range of different skill levels and preferences.
Before you get on the road, it gives you a chance to choose between several different methods to control steering and acceleration.
Like many games, there is an option to display a driving line, but alternatively, you can choose to have points marking each apex and cones placed on the side of the track that serveas more subtle and natural assists.
The driving and controller support is very strong, allowing you to put the car exactlywhere you need it to be and get solid feedback on things like lateral forceand loss of grip.
AI drivers no longer feel like robots circling the track.
They’re still professional and obey the rules of the road, but their behavior is more natural and dynamic.
They will put up a bit of a fight to catch up with you, but without feeling like they have an unfair advantage.
The game does come with its share of odd quirks, some due to its need for a constant online connection.
If you go offline, you’ll be locked outof most of the single player modes.
Instructional videos are merely YouTube linkswith sluggish video players, and you can’t even save the game without being online.
Meanwhile, menus can be a bit awkward to navigate.
Just changing cars feels obtuseas you can’t do so from an event screen.
You have to go back out to a higher menu, change vehicles, and then wait for the event to load again.
Likewise, buying a new carrequires you to go to “Brand Central” where vehicle showrooms are just a part of flashy pages dedicated to each manufacturer.
While the level of education and celebrationis appreciated, the structure can get in the wayof quickly browsing for a new car.
The most dramatic change in GT Sportcomes with the reduced number of cars, going from the 1200 available in GT 6down to a little over 120.
GT Sport isn’t a game where you can wax nostalgicin a car you grew up with.
In fact, very few of the vehicles are more than 5 years old.
Despite all this, the fresh start is appreciated, and we don’t miss the low-quality filler cars or sifting through the redundant pile of Nissansin our old garage.
You also shouldn’t need to spendmassive amounts of credits on a car you don’t want just to compete in one race, as gift cars are handed out regularlyfor your accomplishments.
The reduced number of cars doesn’t keep Gran Turismo from reveling in them.
“Scapes” return, providing a wide arrayof photographic backgrounds where you can place your car and take snapshots, which can be surprisingly convincing.
GT Sport also has the most fully featured livery editorin the series so far, allowing you to not only apply basic paint jobs, but create advanced designs and browse other creations from the community.
Likewise you can also tweak the colorsof your driver’s suit and helmet and there are additional styles that you can getwithout having to open loot boxes.
Gran Turismo Sport does reward youwith an extra form of currency called Mileage Points that you can earn after each event.
It can be spent on driver gear, special vehicles, paint colors, rims, and more.
Interestingly enough, in the tuning menu, mileage points can even be usedto enhance the range that you can tweak some settings.
Thankfully, as of now, there isn’t any way to spendreal cash to purchase Mileage Points, they can only be earned by continuing to race.
If you’ve invested in PlayStation VR, it is supportedby GT Sport, but only in a separate mode.
You can either race or go to a virtual showroomto examine the tires and peek through the windows.
While there’s the expected visual downgrade, racing while wearing the headset is impressive.
Not only can you pick up on environmental detailsyou’d otherwise miss, but the increased depth makes a huge differencein your perception of the track, allowing you to judge elevation changesand braking distance much more effectively.
Likewise, the fact that you can turn your headto look into turns or check your mirrors is a subtle, but notable improvement.
Sadly, the amount of content supported in VRmakes it feel like little more than a demo.
There are only a handful of relatively slow carsto choose from, you only race against one vehicle at a time, and you don’t get any credits, XP, or other rewards for doing so.
Driving School has been a traditional partof Gran Turismo, but the series has never been as seriousabout making you a better driver as it is in GT Sport.
There are dozens of lessons to complete, and while some cover somewhat obvious basics, there are plenty that even experienced racerscan benefit from, and the strict times to attain goldwill keep you perfecting your technique.
These lessons are expanded in the circuit experience, which teaches you the optimal way to get aroundeach track.
Coming here is particularly great to familiarize yourself with a course before competing online.
While Gran Turismo Sport doesn’t have an explicit career mode, Mission Challenge essentially fills that role.
There’s a continued sense that you’re learning as you go, but there’s a variety of events to overcome, including a number of full races, passing challenges, and time trials.
You’ll drive a Mustang around a beautiful course in Italy, take a Bugatti Veyron to a Tokyo Expresswayto draft behind cars and reach top speed, and you’ll slide your way through the dirt in a rally carin Colorado.
Some events do go by quickly, but going for gold in many of the races can take more than a few practice runs, providing a sense of satisfaction in the end.
Mission challenge may not havethe same sense of continuity as a full career, but it mixes things up well enough that you never feel that you’re just repeating the same motions.
Racing online is a big focus for GT Sport, and it’s very serious about making sureno one spoils the competition.
So serious in fact that you’re required to watchtwo videos about sportsmanship and etiquette before you can participate at all.
In addition to being rated on skill, you also have a sportsmanship rating.
As you get through sectors cleanly, you’ll see an icon indicating your rating improving, and if you’re involved with bumping other drivers, you’ll see it go down.
There are times when it feels like you’re markedfor incidents that don’t seem to be your fault, but as long as you’re doing well in the long-term, these aren’t enough to lower your overall rating.
On top of that, there are also penalties givenif you take extreme shortcuts, requiring you to reduce your speeduntil the penalty is served.
From the races we’ve participated in, it all seems to work.
Players are far more conscientiousand less likely to knock each other around.
The other thing that makes online racing differentin GT Sport is that it’s largely schedule-driven.
Every day there are three daily challenges introduced, but you can’t just hop in whenever you like.
You have to wait to enter at the next scheduled time.
This gives races a bit more weight as you can’tsimply quit and restart if you’re doing poorly.
Meanwhile, since the car and track are clearly displayed, you can also use the time waiting to practiceand prepare.
What GT Sport is missing, however, is a more casual matchup system such as the hoppers in Forza Motorsport.
There is a lobby systemwhere you can set up any race you like, and you can filter and browse lobbiesfrom other players, but it’s a crapshoot whether you’re going to get inwith a group that’s around the same skill level or even has a well-rounded number of players.
Everything in GT Sport culminatesin the online championships.
These series are high-stakes events that are periodically scheduled on the game’s calendar.
A championship lasts about a weekwith a different race every day, and your total score is based on your top three results.
Entry is extremely limited as well.
There are only a limited number of scheduled timesto participate in each day’s race, and once you’re in, you only get one attempt.
To put on your best performance, it’s critical to learn the track, which you can do in either the single-player modes or in a period offree practice before the event starts.
A qualifying round establisheswhere you’ll start on the grid, and once the race begins, it’s up to you to gain as many positions as you can.
It’s a high-pressure, exhilarating experiencethat makes online racing feel like it really counts.
It can be devastating if you blow a tricky turn that you’ve worked so hard to get down, but since it’s your only shot, there’s incentive to pick yourself back upand make the most of the time you have left.
Championships are the jewel in GT Sport’s crown.
Compared to past games in the series, Gran Turismo Sport is an admittedly trimmed-down experience.
There are fewer cars and featureswith no trips to the moon.
However, it’s also true that much of what was lostreally needed to be cut.
GT Sport makes the most of its new focuson competition and it does an admirable jobof training you to be a better driver.
It can be intimidating to head online for the first time, but once you finish a race in a respectable position, it feels like all the time you’ve invested has truly paid off.
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Review Copy Provided by PlayStation.