With all the popularity of the Gran Turismo series , it is important to understand that this entertainment is far from being for everyone. Despite the deceptive informational noise and the formal genre, racing in it is not at all the main thing: competing against AI has never been really interesting here. Why then is Gran Turismo so loved? The reason is simple: Kazunori Yamauchi has once again made a game where the cars themselves are much more important than what happens to them. And this time he again brought the usual formula almost to perfection.
Immersing in the topic
The developers of Gran Turismo 7 immediately make it clear how much they are in the subject and how much they love their job: the game starts under the credits against the backdrop of archival records that affect the entire history of the automotive industry from the first tarantas to the assembly of modern cars. Polyphony Digital immediately begins to flood the player with content so that even the hottest car addicts can enjoy their free time and appreciate the scale of the project. And everyone else – fall in love with the automotive industry.
The fleet is as luxurious as ever, from classics like the very first Beetle to custom-designed Vision prototypes. Each car is recreated to the smallest detail, but more importantly, the authors did not forget to provide the audience with many ways to interact with them. Have you been worried for a long time that you don’t know how to play serious racing simulators? There is a whole training center where they teach all the necessary skills step by step: from braking to overcoming turns. Don’t know the tracks? The “Getting to know the track” mode will help memorize them to specific sectors. Want to see the interior of a Ferrari? It’s also possible, and the game specifically encourages you to collect complete collections of cars: the authors give away new models almost for every race, gradually filling up space in the garage, like an album with stamps.
Well, if you like to dig under the hood, then any car can be adjusted – starting with the toe angle and ending with the torque. And along the way, you can wash the car, change the oil, sort out the engine, create a unique livery or tune it up by buying new wheels, wings and other cosmetics. Moreover, you can share your own designs with other players, which will surely make many people pore over unique coloring pages for a long time.
Photo enthusiasts will be able to capture any car from the collection against the backdrop of thousands of picturesque landscapes with a bunch of different settings. And if you are more interested in looking at beautiful photos, then the brand center houses a whole museum, where, along with archival photographs and video recordings, the most important events in the history of large companies and specific models are painted. Finally, in addition to the usual races, there is a whole range of different tasks from “overtake several cars in a couple of turns” to “with the help of a slip stream, gain speed of 300 km/h”. And this, perhaps, is not even all the interesting things that you can do in Gran Turismo 7.
But the main thing is that all this was done not for show, but tied to a completely curious meta-gameplay: this time the single-player campaign is stylized as a city map, on which a variety of buildings are scattered. Each building has its own function. For example, in the upper part of the map there is a used car salon, and at the bottom, on the seashore, there is a spare parts store. Instead of abstract menus, players need to travel between locations, and in each location characters with their own names, portraits and monologues are waiting, which greatly enhances immersion.
The heart of the whole idea, perhaps, can be called the “Cafe”, where motorists gather. There, the player is given tasks, rewards for completed goals in the form of new tracks or lottery tickets, and in honor of each collection of cars collected by the player, the cafe owner will definitely give a lecture on the history of the cars presented in it. All this is presented a little dryly, but with archival photographs and interesting facts. In general, atmospheric and immersing in the topic.
It is the “Cafe” tasks that move the passage forward. The player is constantly asked to go to some new mode and do something there, to purchase certain cars and ride them on a variety of tracks, and new competitions are also opened precisely for completing tasks. Thanks to this progression, there is always a motivation to switch from one activity to another, alternate techniques and strive for additional goals, in addition to completing all the championships in order.
If at the mention of “city” and “lottery tickets” you have associations with mobile casual games, then it’s not in vain: the developers not only took stylistic elements from tycoons, but also spied on some holding mechanics. So, these same lotteries successfully support the feeling of excitement: they can win money, a new car or some kind of spare part. In addition, at the end of the championships, they offer to choose one of three cards with question marks symbolizing a unique car, and every day the game measures the distance traveled by the player – if you dashed off the “norm”, you will receive some kind of reward. There is also an opportunity to complete the game faster by spending money: most of the tasks are tied to collecting cars that you can win in races, or you can just buy. Yes, and the in-game currency is also sold for real money.
Another thing is that all this is not bad at all and never looks like a grind. Cars important for passing are handed out at every step, there is always plenty of money, and you can get them for any sneeze. Even user-configured races are rewarded with currency, and the higher the difficulty, the more money you get for winning the race.
But this is more of a minor quibble. And that’s why it’s especially insulting that with the main attraction, racing, an overlay also came out. As in the previous parts, here is a completely uninteresting AI, almost nothing happens during the races, and there is no sense of danger or colorful accidents. In addition, most of the story races practice a start on the move, which sends the player to the end and gives the leaders a head start of 20 seconds, which only makes the situation worse.
The player is forced to break forward, but the lack of a full-fledged start deprives the competition of at least some intrigue, and it affects the balance for the worse. The fastest cars always start in the lead, which completely kills the fight between AI and championships with points, because the same drivers come to the same places. Finally, all this greatly limits the choice of cars. If you specifically upgrade the technique for breakthroughs, then the rivals turn into mobile chicanes , which you just need to go around, and taking a memetic “Beetle” or an old Fiat means saying goodbye to the chances of winning in advance. You have to look for a balance yourself and forget about some cars forever, which is not very pleasant.
The authors tried to add a bit of variety with the help of the new Musical Rally mode. However, this discipline differs from ordinary time trials with a timer and an equalizer synchronized to the rhythm of the music, reminding you that the race will end by the end of the track and you need to drive as far as possible during this time.
However, Gran Turismo 7 is still more of a game about fighting yourself than your opponents. It’s about concentration, the feeling of the car and trying to drive a circle without errors. The car behavior model still maintains an almost perfect balance between arcade and realism: when an ordinary person can easily cope, and the game will punish for mistakes, and at the same time the process looks as close to reality as possible.
Physics successfully imitates all the basic sensations of a real car, such as hitting bumps or curb attacks. It makes you slow down, correctly dose the gas and choose trajectories, but it simplifies the process just enough so that Uncle Fedya without a driver’s license can enjoy it. Both on the steering wheel and on the gamepad. Moreover, different techniques are really different from each other, pushing to regularly change the style of piloting. If the Nissan GT-R is nervous and prone to constant rear end drift, then some modern Ford Mustang, on the contrary, is overly straightforward and difficult to fit into turns. The weather also sometimes drastically changes the gaming experience: at night it becomes harder to navigate, and on wet roads, cars behave nervously, start aquaplaning and extremely reluctant to slow down. And that’s why it’s especially embarrassing.
However, Gran Turismo has been like this for years: a game more about cars and subculture, about competition with a timer and a continuous learning process. It is for this that people adored her, adore her and, most likely, will adore her after the seventh part. Moreover, the Sport mode and multiplayer may well compensate for the shortcomings of AI due to races against real players. Alas, I was not able to properly evaluate the online component, but there is no reason to doubt it. If you want to know more, write in the comments – then we will definitely return to this topic later.