Gran Turismo Sport Review
With past Gran Turismo titles, I’ve felt as if I was entering a world truly dedicated to racing. Polyphony Studios are masters at creating incredibly realistic driving physics which serve as the skeleton to the game’s beautiful visual exterior. With Gran Turismo Sport, Polyphony has changed the game’s structure by focusing on online multiplayer instead of a single-player campaign. This effort has resulted in a functional and orderly online infrastructure, but at the massive cost of player enjoyment and freedom.
The good news for GT Sport is that it excels at what it has been advertised as: an online-focused racing game. The game sets up daily and weekly races where you can compete for yourself, for a manufacturer, or for a nation. Races occur at select times, which makes competitions feel more important but also makes it more of a hassle to simply jump into a race if you don’t have time to wait around. Racing against a field of human opponents is exciting and often unpredictable, with rewards coming in the form of in-game currency and experience points. A sportsmanship rating – while laughably pedantic in tone in the introductory video – actually works quite well at rewarding racers for good behaviour and proper driving etiquette. The number of circuits is disappointing however, with only 17 locations available (40 if you count variations of tracks), and so far online races seem more often than not to take place on oval tracks. Polyphony have made an online environment that lacks features in its neonate form, but looks poised to be built off of in future updates to the game. More races with cars from players’ personal garages and fewer restrictions on race start times may help the online mode feel more welcoming to players.
It is important to state that the driving in GT Sport is as good as any other game out there. You can feel the weight of cars as you turn around bends at top speed, and the subtle differences between the variably powered cars are noticeable and deep in their nuances. Like past Gran Turismo games, the driving is fantastic and fun, the visuals are outstanding, and the game’s presentation is delightful in its style and gloss. With these qualities, GT Sport may sound like a great driving game, but Polyphony has ripped out so many parts from the game in comparison to past GT games, as well as other racers on the market, that what we are left with is an empty shell of a racing game with a ridiculously low amount of features. It isn’t just the tracks that are few in numbers. The amount of cars in GT Sport is criminally low, with the 160 figure being in effect an illusion, since there are many varieties of the same car. I do applaud Polyphony for finally letting go of their past and not including the low-resolution models of cars that we saw in GT5 and GT6, but the variety of cars in GT Sport is underwhelming.
GT Sport delivers a long list of varied challenges in lieu of a typical single-player campaign. The challenges are enjoyable to try for both their difficulty and for what they teach you, but many of them simply give you a car to use for that specific challenge instead of having you use one from your garage. The same can be said for most online races – you select a car to enter the race with from a supplied list, not from your own collection – and what this means is that collecting cars in Gran Turismo has never been less exciting or less useful than it is in Sport. Whether you are given a car as a reward or you buy one yourself with in-game currency, the result is the same: instead of looking forward to using the car and to seeing how it handles differently from ones you have already driven, you are left wondering if you will even ever be able to use the car in a meaningful way. Collecting cars is an enjoyable and constantly rewarding part of past Gran Turismo games. In GT Sport, it becomes an afterthought, and the game suffers for it.
Compare GT Sport to past Gran Turismo games and you will be disappointed by just how much Polyphony has removed from the series. Compare GT Sport to other racers on the market today, and its lack of cars, tracks, and game modes become abhorrently apparent. On its own merit, GT Sport delivers solid, and even masterful, driving gameplay. But as a fully featured game, GT Sport is lacking in enjoyment. Gone are the ridiculous vehicles, the Top Gear track, the used car lot, and a single-player campaign. Gone with them too is the soul of Gran Turismo – not the quality of the driving itself, but rather the enjoyment of it and of vehicles. Polyphony’s focus was simply to narrow with GT Sport. The developers removed too much and added too little, and what racing fans are left with is a weak, ghostly outline of a game from a series that has had better days.