GRAN TURISMO SPORT

Warn­ing: you are not play­ing Gran Turismo… yet

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

With its on­line cham­pi­onship en­dorsed by the FIA, could this be the most re­al­is­tic racer ever?

Veteran PlayS­ta­tion rac­ers will re­mem­ber that as the tagline on bill­boards, placed near mo­tor­ways through­out the coun­try, to ad­ver­tise the first Gran Turismo. It might have been a bit far-fetched to sug­gest the PS1 game was in­dis­tin­guish­able from re­al­ity, but it did chime with the game’s cen­tral ap­peal: it was closer to driv­ing a car than we’d ever gone be­fore in games. But in 2017, com­peti­tors across the in­dus­try have long since beaten Kazunori Ya­mauchi’s stu­dio at its own game. As­setto Corsa han­dles more be­liev­ably. Sun­light dances across bon­nets more con­vinc­ingly in Drive­club. Project Cars does all that while do­ing a hand­stand. The imminent Gran Turismo Sport, then, has it all to do on 18 Oc­to­ber.

That date is more or less a full year af­ter its orig­i­nal re­lease date, true to the se­ries’ form for gla­cial de­vel­op­ment sched­ules. De­spite that ex­tra year, in which beta phases have been con­ducted glob­ally, GT Sport still has a con­sid­er­able el­e­ment of mystery re­main­ing. Will it feel like a com­plete game, with all the en­cy­clopaedic con­tent and es­o­teric twists we’ve come to ex­pect from num­bers one to six? Or is this one of the Pre­lude va­ri­ety, de­signed to sate our ap­petites un­til Gran Turismo 7?

We know this much: 177 cars and 27 lay­outs of 19 tracks are head­ing to Polyphony’s first PS4 ti­tle.

“THE FIRST LINE OF THIS NEW CHAP­TER IS ABOUT ON­LINE RAC­ING.”

Some way short of Gran Turismo 5 and its 1,088 ve­hi­cles, but enough to chal­lenge your skills across sev­eral dis­ci­plines, from off-road to GT cars to that most quin­tes­sen­tial of Gran Turismo ex­pe­ri­ences: driv­ing dan­ger­ously up­graded hatch­backs around Au­tumn Ring Mini (at least, we as­sume that ven­er­a­ble lo­cale will be mak­ing a re­turn). But are those num­bers enough for this to be con­sid­ered the next true se­quel, even with­out a ‘7’ in the ti­tle?

Polyphony co-founder Ya­mauchi char­ac­terises GT Sport’s nomen­cla­ture dif­fer­ently. Ev­ery­thing up to Gran Turismo 6 is the first gen­er­a­tion of the se­ries. This new game, he says, rep­re­sents a gen­er­a­tional shift. A new chap­ter. And the first line of that new chap­ter is about on­line rac­ing. GT Sport en­lists none other than the FIA it­self to lend some of­fi­cial clout to the Gran Turismo On­line Cham­pi­onship, in which na­tional and constructors’ cham­pi­onships will be con­tested, live, eS­ports-friendly fi­nals will be hosted, and, per­haps most baf­flingly, the top gamers will end up with actual FIA rac­ing li­censes.

RID­ING DIRTY

It’s not just the pros who’ll feel this re­newed at­ten­tion to rac­ing eti­quette: GT Sport has its sights set on bring­ing gen­tle­manly con­duct to ev­ery on­line race. Stop­ping just short of hav­ing Char­lie Whit­ing watch your ev­ery over­take, the game im­ple­ments a harsh but – hope­fully – fair line on rac­ing in­ci­dents. Suc­cinctly, ev­ery con­tact be­tween driv­ers in an on­line race is deemed both par­ties’ fault. That might seem un­just the first time some­one T-bones you go­ing round a hair­pin, but over time your as­sailant will be pun­ished more than you if you race cleanly and they don’t.

What if you’re not into rac­ing other hu­mans, though? This is where GT Sport’s gen­er­a­tional shift is most keenly felt. Although there are three solo modes (cam­paign, sports, and ar­cade) it doesn’t ap­pear that the old car-col­lect­ing struc­ture has sur­vived the jump from PS3. In its place is a long road of train­ing minigames, broadly sim­i­lar to the li­censes in prior ti­tles, de­signed to hone your skills ready for – you guessed it – on­line rac­ing. It’s a sign of the times, re­ally. Sim rac­ing is all about hu­man op­po­si­tion, and GT Sport is look­ing like the most se­ri­ous sim rac­ing ti­tle the se­ries has ever pro­duced. What’s more, no one rac­ing se­ries has truly sealed up the eS­ports mar­ket in the genre, and a fran­chise as big as Gran Turismo could hardly be ex­pected to stay clear of the feed­ing frenzy.

But look, don’t fret. It’s still recog­nis­ably Gran Turismo un­der that on­line-friendly sheen. There’s a ridicu­lously de­tailed photo mode, ex­panded even from the aper­ture-tweak­ing fetishism of GT6. There’s still an in­con­gru­ous but some­how de­light­ful pi­ano sound­track. And there’s still an at­mos­phere of ut­ter de­vo­tion to its sub­ject ma­te­rial ev­ery­where you look in GT Sport. Ya­mauchi re­cently said that each of the 200 staff mem­bers at Polyphony work­ing on the game are “do­ing some­thing only they can do,” and that re­ally sums up the stu­dio’s wil­fully unique at­ti­tude to de­vel­op­ment. There’s no ques­tion­ing the stu­dio’s pas­sion or ex­per­tise, then, or the fun­da­men­tal qual­ity of the driv­ing. But with such tight com­pe­ti­tion in the genre now com­pa­ra­ble to 1997 when it de­buted, one ques­tion re­mains: what will be writ­ten on the bill­boards this time?

“THE RIDICU­LOUSLY DE­TAILED PHOTO MODE EX­PANDS EVEN THE APER­TURE-TWEAK­ING FETISHISM OF GT6.”

Above New tracks seen so far in­clude the fic­tional Ky­oto Driv­ing Park, Colorado Springs (an off-road course), and Fish­er­man’s Ranch (a dirt track).

Above As for real-world tracks, one with green, yel­low, and white rum­ble strips sug­gests we’ll be driv­ing at In­ter­la­gos.

Above The in­te­ri­ors are recre­ated in lov­ing de­tail. It makes us hope more PS VR sup­port will be added over time.

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