Last Friday saw the release of Gran Turismo 7, the next mainline instalment into the iconic racing series, developed by Polyphony Digital and published by Sony.
It follows the formula expected from the series; sending players on photo-realistic laps around familiar tracks with dynamic scenery and tons of vehicles to unlock. The game launched on both the PS4 and PS5, making it the first multi-platform title in Gran Turismo's history.
As of writing, the game has a score of 88 on Metacritic. For comparison, the last major entry into the series, 2013's Gran Turismo 6, has a score of 81.
It also saw solid sales at launch; it's the fourth biggest boxed release of the year so far behind Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring.
Reviews have been positive so far; with a leaning on nostalgia. A couple remarked on how Grand Turismo 7 felt reminiscent of the first game in the series, which was released in 1998 to critical acclaim.
"From the first honk of the series' iconic countdown klaxon, there are moments during Gran Turismo 7 when it feels almost like a remake of the 1997 original," said Luke Reilly in a 9/10 IGN review.
"Each vehicle is fettled in obsessive detail, down to the exact arrangement of reflective elements in an individual car's headlights"Mike Channell, The Guardian
This was also noted in Mike Channel's 4/5 review for The Guardian, which said "At first glance, Gran Turismo 7 offers much the same experience as the original game did back in 1997: an idiosyncratically clean aesthetic, a focus on authentic handling and impossibly shiny cars that put any car wash to shame."
Channel commented on how the series has always sought to "demonstrate the true graphical potential of Sony's consoles," which Gran Turismo 7 appears to have done on PS5.
"While it remains compatible with the PlayStation 4, on the newer machine this is a jaw-slackeningly beautiful game," Channel wrote. "Each vehicle is fettled in obsessive detail, down to the exact arrangement of reflective elements in an individual car's headlights."
How the game looks was also commented on by Mark Foster in an 8/10 review for GamingBible, who said "Gran Turismo 7 is just unfathomably beautiful in all aspects" and added that every vehicle has been "loving, painstakingly crafted" that they could almost be real cars racing around real tracks.
The Gran Turismo series is first and foremost about its cars, perhaps more so than similar games. The game brings back its car-collecting campaign mode, which sees players make their way through various locations, winning or purchasing vehicles along the way.
The main campaign takes players through to a café location which serves as a hub to choose missions and upgrade or change cars. Foster was "sceptical that GT Café could amount to much more than a gimmick," but admitted that the setting made him care about the cars he was racing and collecting.
However, Channel pointed out that it is different to the campaign in earlier games, and this might frustrate long-time fans.
"Instead of the other titles' more freeform vehicle-purchasing exploration, your route through the early part of the game is tightly controlled and punctuated with educational mini-lectures on significant or enduring aspects of car culture," Channel said, calling the delivery of such "charming yet stuffy."
This is also pointed out in Martin Robinson's 'Eurogamer Recommended' review, which said: "Of all the many twists and turns Polyphony Digital has taken the series over the years, Gran Turismo: the visual novel might well be the most surprising yet. What's perhaps more surprising is Gran Turismo 7 lands it remarkably well, giving its campaign an oddball character all of its own."
While it pays attention to history, IGN's Reilly highlighted that the game's car collection -- which exceeds 400 vehicles -- is missing some more modern cars.
"With a few exceptions, most manufacturers' ranges tend to top out at around 2017," Reilly said. "If you're expecting to see quite a few high-profile cars from the last two or three years here, like the latest McLarens or any Tesla built since 2012, you may be disappointed."
Outside of the campaign, Gran Turismo 7 offers a variety of extra racing modes, including missions tied to specific locations, Sport Mode for competitive races, and events that are collected under each racetrack. From there, players can choose between arcade races of varying difficulty, time trials or a custom rally.
Gran Turismo 7 also offers two new modes: Music Rally and Music Replay. Foster remarked on how the new music modes may serve as a great jumping on point for new players, but he didn't feel much yearning to play it more than once.
Reilly at IGN shared a similar sentiment on the mode, and wrote: "'Quirky' is the polite way to describe [Music Replay], but 'baffling' is probably the more accurate. It's admittedly hard for me to gauge how a 2022 audience will respond to hustling around a track to classical disco megamixes from 1982, but personally I'm confused as hell here."
Several critics praised Gran Turismo 7's gameplay, and how it feels more refined than previous instalments. In a 4.5/5 review for GamesRadar, Justin Towell said that the game is "simply a joy to control, with smooth, ultra-solid driving physics that simulate every element of the car's interaction with the track surface."
Robinson agreed, and said: "Driving in Gran Turismo 7, thanks to the alchemy of the DualSense feedback, the open-armed yet authentic handling, the camera that leans in with you and the simple craft that's gone into each car feels sensational."
Another aspect that critics highlighted was that in-game money -- used to purchase additional vehicles and upgrades -- is hard to come by. Players can spend between $1 and $5 to purchase different amounts of credits, which can then be spent on cars. Some of the in-game models cost millions of credits, which can amount to upwards of $40 in microtransactions for one car.
"There's a frugality to the campaign which works in its favour at first, having you carefully consider each new upgrade and ensuring you savour every new car you save up for," Robinson said, regarding the availability of money in the game.
He goes on to call the microtransaction element "the most egregious" of frustrations, and said that the inclusion is "something of a problem given how, once you've rolled credits in Gran Turismo 7, the grind is the game."
"The most focussed and finessed Gran Turismo to date"Martin Robinson, Eurogamer
As IGN noted, these are cars that can still be earned through organic gameplay, presented with a hefty price tag.
"With rare cars in the legendary dealer rotating in availability before they're "sold out" (and unobtainable to you in your single-player game), and others that require peculiar, time-limited, in-game invitations to actually purchase, it's definitely easy to see how some players who know they won't have the time to build a large amount of credits by racing may be compelled to part with real cash to snag certain cars before they're gone," Reilly said.
In all, Gran Turismo 7 seems to be one of, if not the best entry into the series so far, despite being let down by some of its borderline predatory monetisation practices.
"Fundamentally, this is one of the best driving games I've ever played," Towell concluded. "Not as bright or arrogant as Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, nor as gorgeously-presented off the track as Forza Motorsport 7. But the most telling thing is that I just haven't been able to stop playing it since I installed it, which I find is increasingly rare for a driving game. Gran Turismo 7 is the real deal and every PlayStation owner should buy it."
Eurogamer's Robinson called the game "the most focussed and finessed Gran Turismo to date," and ended his review with: "It's a sumptuous, arrestingly gorgeous thing that most importantly retains its enthusiast's heart under the graphical showcase, and that does its level best to make a car enthusiast out of anyone in its orbit."
Meanwhile, GamingBible's Foster concluded: "I'm thrilled to say that this is the best GT game I've played in the better half of a decade. It's not without a few bumps in the road, but they're nothing that will keep avid racers away."