Racing triumph demands an audience: Gran Turismo Sport review [Update]

After encountering some enduring post-launch issues in Gran Turismo Sport that, over the time since launch, have not gotten resolved, we have been forced to revisit our review. As a result, we’ve made some adjustments to the review content, as well as the score. If you have specific questions or feedback, please let us know.

Ron Burke
Editor-in-Chief, Gaming Trend

We have been waiting a long time: each racing game that has been released since the last Gran Turismo has had charm to it, but ultimately whenever it came down to true racing perfection, they each fell woefully short in a litany of fashions.

Now, Polyphony has pulled the protective covers off their latest vision, and the pièce de résistance that is Gran Turismo Sport is truly a sight to behold, cherish, and revere. A symphony of speed and precision, Gran Turismo Sport is a game that will be played long after the PlayStation 4 has met its demise.

Where other racing games capture a certain style of race, Gran Turismo aims to represent them all. Other racing titles come close to driving simulation, but Gran Turismo hits the mark across the whole driving spectrum. To suggest genre redefinition is inaccurate as Gran Turismo Sport is without a true peer group to defined by.

Where GT Sport shines the brightest is in the foundational parts of the game. The vehicles are masterfully programmed to handle with accuracy to their real-world counterparts. You’ll feel not only a difference between a high-powered supercar, a standard sedan, and a go-kart; you’ll also feel the subtle differences between the specific cars within model types, category of power, as well as look and feel.

Having just enjoyed the game using a standard controller, I can attest that even with that basic setup there is no doubting the incredible attention to detail spent on each and every vehicle available in the game. Those who can enjoy the game with a specialized wheel, as well as the VR options available with the game, will have the best racing simulation experience that can be had in one’s home.

Beyond just the default experience, each car is highly customizable “under the hood” with more and more options coming available as you level up. Small tweaks to the various parts of the engine and body can make all the difference for wins and losses, and the fine detail is noticeable enough to ensure you’re not just moving sliders and numbers around arbitrarily.

GT Sport also has a focus on sportsmanship and fair racing tactics that creates an atmosphere of accountability that you won’t find anywhere else. It doesn’t mean you’ll be free of bad racing, but it does mean you can expect people to be more on their Ps and Qs as opposed to your rear bumper. The game even forces you to watch two short films on sportsmanship and good racing tactics before you can even join an online race.

The courses themselves are gorgeously designed, and attention to detail is overflowing in almost every corner imaginable. The courses are alive with people, fully animated in the stands or on the sides of the road, cheering and feasting while you whiz by. There is no limit to the natural beauty captured in the foliage, mountainside farms, or architecture that surrounds you, all in beautiful full detail.

The camera acts as a movie camera would, capturing some distortion and motion blur, and it casts the action magnificently. You’ll easily enjoy watching just random races of other people and getting a chance to take in the full view that you often miss while so laser focused on the task at hand. Dynamic lighting and shadows are crisp and the rays flowing from the sun during dawn or dusk races call you to gaze in wild wonder.

I haven’t begun to mention the cars, which shine and glisten in all colors of the rainbow, each a perfect recreation of its real world counterpart. From certain angles and lighting, they look indistinguishable from the real thing. Past experience typically provided high resolution vehicles in movie sequences and stills, but not in the races themselves. The immaculate detail on the vehicles in the races of Gran Turismo Sport will leave graphic hounds speechless. There is so much beauty in the presentation of these races that it almost becomes the focus.

The cars you collect aren’t limited to a set number of paint jobs and schemes like past Gran Turismo games either. Rather, each car is fully customizable with only your imagination and the paint schemes you’ve collected as a outer limit. There is a massive library of logos for real and fake sponsors, as well as gradients, shapes, and other decals you can you use to create your own designs for the race car. If you want to go without all the sponsorship imagery and do something all your own, you have that choice. If you’re a purist who likes the look of a fully advertising race car, you can tune up that look and feel to your exact wants and desire.

I can’t stress enough how amazing this is. I have always loved just being able to paint the cars and potentially add racing numbers, maybe a few stripes. I’ve played a few racing games that have allowed for some similar design elements to be applied, but this is something beyond that entirely. If you have a concept for design, this game will allow you to execute it. An online uploader for self made decals ensures that if you can dream it up, it can be made.

An impressive, professional grade camera studio is available for taking shots of the cars you have in your collection. These photos are taken in a series of “scapes” with each one more breathtaking than the last. Real photos taken around the world in some of the most iconic, gorgeous, and photogenic places serve as the backdrop for your artistic car glamour shots.

The camera can be fine tuned, with several advanced camera techniques for capturing light, blur, and motion. The camera  goes so far beyond it needs to be that it almost makes me want to laugh. The thought that a racing game review requires two full paragraphs to describe the highly advanced in-game camera is absurd in the most fantastic of ways. It is a perfect example of just how much Gran Turismo Sport dedicates itself to the art of small details.

The game is played in a few different ways. The Arcade mode allows for single and multiplayer races, with your standard races, time trials, drift challenges, and the like. The game also has a series of challenges, for learning driving techniques, course recognition and memorization, and missions that put you in various driving scenarios. There is a lot of fun to be had, hard challenges to be overcome, and plenty of gameplay opportunity.

The online gameplay is set up to play like a continuous event. There is a lobby mode where you can get together with friends and strangers and run exhibition style races, but the main online experience is in scheduled online race events. There are daily races that run at different intervals, and a series of circuits that are locked for the time being, to be opened up for joining in early November.

I like that these races are continuously going on, and instead of relying on a lobby to get together and do everything, you are allowed to qualify throughout the day at any time you want. Get a good time, and you can just sit pretty. The qualifying times create pools of players to slot in at different positions and race groups are created from a massive pool of participants. This has led to a wonderfully smooth experience. No group disbands, no big failures, and no waiting and playing just to have the group end abruptly.

Gran Turismo Sport is completely dependent on online connectivity, and progress cannot be saved while offline. All earned credits, experience, vehicles, and wins will not be maintained at any time if the servers are failing. In addition, the largest bulk of the game modes cannot even be accessed while offline. This introduces to me an issue that others may have picked up on even prior to release: the constant need for the game to be connected.

This poor connectivity has also caused me to realize that the need for constant connectivity is something that will ultimately alienate some players who may not have internet access, or who have limited access to a network in a extreme rural setting. When combined with the server issues keeping all players from accessing the game in full, what could be a small but worrying issue becomes a massive and untenable problem.

The game is very simple to navigate, menus are self explanatory but the game also does a overt and hand-holdy job of telling you what each menu and option will do. So that means that no matter your comfort level, Gran Turismo Sport is accessible. There is a large soundtrack of music across all genres, and keeping in perfect rhythm with the rest of the game, it is perfection. A large ambient library keeps things in the menus very chill and smooth, and a library of songs for the races are uptempo, high energy, and fitting for the moment. They thought of everything, and the result is a game that is practically flawless.

I originally provided Gran Turismo Sport a perfect score of 100, and also summarized it as practically flawless in our pros and cons section. I stand by the content of my review of the game as it was at the time I published. Despite a clean server experience during my review time, a litany of server issues afterwards have caused some concerns for long term quality. Having a poor server response at the launch of such a long anticipated release is a fairly unacceptable shortcoming that is only exacerbated by the long delay in release that Gran Turismo Sport had.

These issues diminish what otherwise is a wonderful game experience. It is because of these issues that I have modified the score to reflect the negative developments since the publish date. This score modification also reflects an expectation that the server issues will be temporary. They break the game entirely, making it virtually unplayable, and if this continues to be an issue the game will diminish exponentially in quality. At this time, I am changing the score from the original perfect 100 to an 85.

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Patrick Rost has been with Gaming Trend since 2013. At first focused on sports coverage, Patrick has gone on to cover a wide range of games and other products for the website. Outside of Gaming Trend, Patrick writes and records music, grinds perpetually in Elder Scrolls Online (PS4), and lives day to day with his two dogs, Bob and Stella.



Gran Turismo Sport

Review Guidelines

After a long wait, Gran Turismo Sport is here, and it is racing perfection beyond measure. This is the best racing game that I have ever played, overflowing in beauty, grace, playability, and precision. Driving a go-kart, a fusion-engine concept race car, or a standard Ford Focus all provide a wealth of fun and unique challenges. Gran Turismo Sport is a triumph, and will be played voraciously by racing fans for years and years to come.

Patrick Rost

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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