8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

While its competitors have already established themselves on PC and the latest generation of consoles, GT has been lagging behind. A stopgap before GT7 has arrived in the form of GT Sport, and we've played an early build
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The Gran Turismo series is the grandaddy of car games. Most of the racers you play today, and the games with which GT now competes, had formats pioneered by the now legendary Kazunori Yamauchi and his team. The problem is that Gran Turismo became a bit complacent, and suddenly found itself an inferior product in many ways to rivals like Forza Motorsport on Xbox and, more recently, Project Cars, Assetto Corsa and iRacing, to name a few.

Putting aside physics and sound and all those in-game attributes that are so important, its biggest problem has been its absence from the new generation of consoles. Forza Motorsport is on its second Xbox One iteration, while PlayStation 4 owners must keep their old PS3s plugged in for a dose of Gran Turismo action.

That’s all about to change, however, as Gran Turismo Sport will - should - be with us by the end of the year; release has been scheduled for 15 November 2016 in North America and Asia, 16 November in Europe, and 18 November in the UK. Yesterday I got the chance to hear Kazunori Yamauchi’s thoughts on the game, and more importantly I got behind the Thrustmaster wheel for a couple of hours of game time. Here’s what I learned…

Don't expect anything revolutionary

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

Now I’ll start this by saying that as an Xbox fanboy, I haven’t actually played Gran Turismo properly since GT 3: A-Spec, but having read many reviews and having watched many videos of GT6 - as well as getting to watch the best GT players in the world up close at the GT Academy finals last year - I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

If you’re hoping for anything revolutionary, you might be disappointed. I’ll get into the minutiae later, but suffice to say GT Sport doesn’t really move the game on significantly. That’ll be a good thing for some GT fans, but from the Academy competitors I’ve spoken to, both yesterday and in Abu Dhabi last year, if Gran Turismo is going to hold its own amongst its highly capable competitors, then GT7 is going to have to be more than just a prettied up version of 6.

It's kind of a full game, but not quite

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

This feels a lot more like a stopgap than a full game, but there’s more than enough on offer to justify buying the game.

There are 140 cars and 19 tracks, as well as a career mode that includes driver training and a ‘Racing Etiquette’ mode that’s supposed to teach you how not to be a douchebag when racing online. GT Sport’s focus is in the online modes, but there should be enough to keep solo players interested.

The 140 cars are split into four groups, starting with road cars and building up to the fastest cars in the game, including Le Mans prototypes and GT Vision concepts. Perhaps my favourite addition is the fantasy GT3 cars; the likes of the Alfa Romeo 4C and Jaguar F-Type have been given the GT racer treatment, making for badass-looking cars that are fast as all hell.

The online championships sound awesome

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

The real meat of GT Sport is in the online championships, and there are two series on offer. First up is the Nations Cup, in which you represent the country you live in in online races, with the racers with the fastest time going through to live finals. Second is the Manufacturer Cup, in which you pick your favourite car makers and represent them online.

The main events will take place at weekends, but there will also be smaller series, such as smaller one-make championships, which can take place during the week. It’s a great way to play against real people, and to be rewarded for your commitment to a championship.

For me, it’s the most exciting part of the game, and if I had a PlayStation it’s definitely the thing that would have me putting down my hard-earned cash for GT Sport.

Handling is a bit soft and floaty, but it is fun

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

When it comes to physics, one of the hardest things to replicate is the feeling of the car being attached to the tarmac with the tyres digging into the black stuff as you turn. This is where GT really falls down, as the cars feel a lot like they’re floating across the tarmac. It’s fairly difficult to gauge how hard you’re braking or whether you’re really leaning on the limits of grip in a corner.

That said, the physics engine does make for fun racing. It might not feel totally realistic, but the learning curve is fairly quick - I hadn’t played GT for the best part of a decade, and it only took me a race or two to get the hang of things and up the AI difficulty to its highest setting. The Nordschleife was great fun, obviously, but the floaty feel was amplified as the car wasn’t unsettled by bumps as it would be in real life.

My main in-race gripe is that my favourite camera, the one attached to the front bumper, doesn’t feel like it’s attached to the furthest point forward. In Project Cars and Forza, I can hold the car close to the rear of an opponent without hitting them, but I kept finding myself ramming other cars when I thought I had space to play with. A small problem, but infuriating when it kills your momentum.

The audio still needs work

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

The audio in Gran Turismo has been the butt of many jokes. It’s always been seriously lacking, but apparently it’s been worked on for this game. Well, they need to work a bit harder. The cars sound artificial, and nothing like their real-life counterparts.

When you’re really in the zone you don’t notice, but once you do it takes you out of the moment. I also found myself having to rely on the tachometer when it came to shifting, as the engine sounds didn’t give much indication that you might be rocketing towards the red line.

Personally, it’s not enough to put me off the game, but it does frustrate me. Surely the team is aware its audio is mocked, so all efforts should be made to poach engineers from other games to ensure it’s perfect this time around. If Polyphony has pulled out all the stops to make the audio perfect, then there’s really no hope.

Photo mode - "Scapes" - is absolutely stunning

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

I’ve never been one to get sidetracked by features like photo modes, or opening and shutting doors in a virtual showroom (sorry, Forzavista), but even I was blown away by GT Sport’s photo mode.

It’s called ‘Scapes’, and it gives you tonnes of control over what your shot looks like. There are over 1000 locations for you to shoot a car - or more than one car - and each is more beautifully recreated than the last. You have loads of control over car positions and a bunch of in-camera controls, like focus and aperture, to give your shots the exact look you want. If you like taking virtual snaps, prepare to lose hours in Scapes.

There's now a livery editor

8 Things I Learned About Gran Turismo Sport After A Hands-On Preview

Something that’s always been missing from Gran Turismo is a livery editor, but that’s now been remedied. It might not sound like a huge deal, but there are massively engaged communities of livery makers in the likes of Forza and Need For Speed, and it adds a whole new level of long-term engagement for people who buy the game.

Should I buy it?

Spot me wearing my game face in the chair furthest from the camera!
Spot me wearing my game face in the chair furthest from the camera!

It’s impossible to say just yet. We only had a couple of hours with the game, and it wasn’t the final build, but the early signs are promising. Sure, it’s not the super realistic racing simulation it claims to be, but it’s definitely great fun to play.

I think the real answer to that question will come from how much you care about competitive online racing. For me, that’s a real selling point as it’s something I’ve been seriously looking into doing. If you prefer offline career modes, then GT Sport should still offer enough content to keep you interested, but we’ll have to wait until we get a proper look at the finished product to truly decide.

For now, though, Gran Turismo fans should be pretty damn excited about the series finally coming to PS4. As for those detractors who’ve switched allegiances, I’m afraid Polyphony hasn’t really moved the game on enough to warrant diving back into the world of GT. Hopefully by the time GT7 comes around, it will have caught back up to its rivals.



RIP Forza

05/20/2016 - 13:33 |
18 | 15

In reply to by G-Race

Lol like this is a threat to Forza…

05/20/2016 - 17:10 |
14 | 9

Photography Simulator 2016

05/20/2016 - 13:33 |
162 | 2

My thoughts exactly.

05/20/2016 - 21:53 |
2 | 0

Really, with fixed camera position? :(

10/20/2017 - 21:28 |
0 | 0

I think Polyphony is saving the best for GT7 and beat Forza.

05/20/2016 - 13:37 |
62 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I don’t think of forza motosport being a direct competitior to gran turismo. I played both in the past. Forza is more of an arcade simulator and gran turismo is more realistic

05/21/2016 - 08:28 |
16 | 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

GT is not in the position to “save something”. In the past few years Forza clearly became the better game. Now its the time for GT to show everything they have got!
I think, after all these reviews ive read, that GT still wont beat any Forza.

and i write this as a Playstation User :D

05/22/2016 - 06:04 |
4 | 0

Meh, I’ll stick with Assetto Corsa.

When they stop pushing the date back.

05/20/2016 - 13:38 |
26 | 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

If you are more interested about physics and simulation than pretty stuff, you should definetly do that :) Although you can’t choose your livery or even colour, the graphics are still OK for this day and age, and the physics are freaking amazing.

05/20/2016 - 14:07 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Assetto is already out though..

05/23/2016 - 10:32 |
1 | 0
Eric Mark X

I don’t think I’ll be getting a PS4 just yet. The only reasons I would get one are GT7, Kingdom Hearts 3 or a proper NFS game. The latter doesn’t exist yet imo and the former 2 have releasedates that are either unknown or far beyond 2017.

05/20/2016 - 13:44 |
9 | 0

Wait for the 4.5/Neo I guess.

05/20/2016 - 14:02 |
5 | 0
Dave 12

Come on! I knew it would be more of the same. I was really hoping I was wrong. It’s a good game but they need to drag themselves into the current century and fast.

05/20/2016 - 13:50 |
7 | 0

In reply to by Dave 12

I hope they’re holding back and keeping the best for GT7

05/20/2016 - 16:35 |
4 | 0

I was once a gt lover but now i can say that gt is the cod of the racing games :( i will stick with gsce/automobilista!

05/20/2016 - 17:07 |
2 | 0

This game is a spin-off from the the GT series!
so it isn’t even a complete game, like we are used to…
The ‘’real’’ GT will be GT7, and it will come out next year I think! ;)

05/20/2016 - 21:12 |
0 | 0

damn it, they have to fix the sounds, this is the only thing we want from Plyphony, fix the damn sounds, and it will beat Forza right away!!!

05/20/2016 - 13:52 |
2 | 2

Gran Turismo has a lot more issues than bad sound to iron out if it wants to finally take down Forza…

05/21/2016 - 04:15 |
1 | 0

Great, now I need both forza and GT…anyone got a PS4 I could nick?

05/20/2016 - 13:57 |
1 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I’ve got one. It’s hard disk is fried. Want?

05/20/2016 - 14:00 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Got both!

05/22/2016 - 13:09 |
0 | 0

We knew the beta was cancelled ages ago

05/20/2016 - 14:13 |
1 | 1

What about Gran Turismo 7 ? :DDD

05/20/2016 - 14:15 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe a year later, then again if my post is true, then it’ll have squeeze in with Forza Motorsports 7, well unless they changed plans and made a new spinoff or delay it.

05/25/2016 - 12:54 |
1 | 0


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