GT Sport: First Impressions

By Tom | 26 Oct 2017
Gran Turismo makers, Polyphony Digital, promised so much on the back of the announcement of a Gran Turismo on (at the time) the “next gen” PS4. Promising fully rendered cars, including all cars having interiors, and tracks being much more realistic to drive around -- both landscape, and track detail wise, with tracks being lasers scanned for pin point accuracy, as well as the realism of the track physics being better.

Initially slated for October last year, Polyphony Digital pushed back the release of Gran Turismo Sport to fix issues, and make use of the incoming PS4 Pro and PS VR hardware. After a closed beta earlier in the year and a demo/beta a week before launch, everything looked towards the game being a worthy successor to GT6 -- a game which was the best it could be at the time of its release on PS3. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

The games car list was released, and my instant reaction was just, "wow." From the 1200+ cars in GT6, the car list of GT Sport seemed poor by comparison. Gone are many of the classic cars (Ford GT Le Mans edition, Jaguar E-type, Ferrari F40), gone are many of the brands and vehicles we’re used to on the roads as well. I remember pounding round the Nordschleife in a private lobby with my best friend for hours at the weekend. Never racing each other, just driving. Armed with Logitech GT steering wheels, we would work on setups for career mode or test which car was better (Caterham or KTM X-bow). At the end of the weekend, we would select a track like Monza and hop into cars similar to the cars we owned, Abarth Punto vs Renault Clio ’03. Both capped to the same weight and power. Then fight it out, no rules.

So, does GT Sport take over from, what was for me and my best friend at the time, our go-to game for driving and chill? It looks increasingly like this isn’t the case. With a very limited 'campaign' mode, where you complete 48 driving school challenges, and similar numbers for mission challenges and circuit experiences. You don’t even need to own the vehicles in each challenge anymore, like in GT6. In GT Sport, you get credits or win cars for completing several challenges at gold, silver, or bronze levels, yet you don’t actually need them for the 'campaign'? Unfortunately, this is the case, there is no offline 'campaign' mode race/challenge which requires you to own a single vehicle. The only time you need a vehicle is for the 'sport' mode. Complete the racing etiquette videos (5 mins wasted if you’re a seasoned veteran of any racing game or watch any racing series) and you're free to enter the online racing scene, providing you have an internet connection.

The game has joined the ranks of Destiny and Need for Speed, where you can only progress with an internet connection (even in the 'offline' mode). So, 140 cars, limited brands, with almost all cars being the racing variations, and not the road cars. While GT Sport intends to be a motorsport focused game, having real world cars allows for some fun within the serious nature of motorsport, some relief.
GT Sport doesn’t look to be the game I certainly expected, or sold to me to be. But we are one-week in. It took GT6 a few updates to introduce some good additions -- not just cars but online events too.

Given that Gran Turismo has teamed up with the FIA -- yes, that FIA. The one which manages all the major international motorsport racing categories (F1, WEC, and even Formula E to name a few). There is just not enough content from the FIA licence, and in fact you could be mistaken for not thinking it's in there, but who knows, maybe GT Sport will get better with time.

At this point, the way me and my friend may use GT Sport is to make a list of all tracks, use a number generator to create a championship, and see if it is possible to add AI vehicles to make it more than a 2-driver fight. Because neither of us think the sport mode and online racing will make it 100% fair -- where we are paired with similarly skilled racers who don’t use you as the brakes because you’re ahead and not in Bugatti Veyron.

GT Sport has a lot of work to do if it's to have a hope in hell at bringing anyone back. It was supposed to be a GT focused around the sport of motorsport, but it's just a shell of a game which needs far more in it to keep me coming back. I'm disappointed in Polyphony Digital for not delivering on the excitement which is motorsport. I'm disappointed for GT and racing fans, just as much as I am for myself. But, I hope the game can shape up to be something great in the future, unfortunately, for now it's not great all.

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