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Gran Turismo 7 - title

In a Nutshell

WHAT I LIKE

  • Steering with motion controls
  • Feeling loss of traction on the controller
  • Braking and throttle requires finesse on triggers
  • Basically, everything about the actual driving
  • Plenty of options for electric and hybrid cars
  • Objectives create more structured gameplay and progression

WHAT I DON'T LIKE

  • More about collecting cars than driving or racing
  • Gives away too much for free
  • Cash has little value
  • Can't sell un-wanted cars
  • No sense of ownership or attachment to cars
  • No qualifying lap or ranking-based pole position
  • No opportunity to run practice laps
  • Can't test drive cars before buying
  • Little punishment for impacts, or going off road
  • HUD covers up cockpit mirrors
  • Mini Cooper race
  • Poor, clunky U.I.
  • Micro-transaction-fueled grind?
  • Always online requirement?

Overall Impression : D+ / C-
The driving is great; the rest of the game isn't

Gran Turismo 7 - cover

Developer:
Polyphony Digital

Publisher:
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platforms:
PlayStation 4 | 5 < (via retail disc or PSN digital download),
PC (Steam release coming soon),
(< indicates platform I played for review)

MSRP: $60 USD (PS4) | $70 USD (PS5)

Original release date:
4 March 2022

Genre:
simulation auto racing

Player(s):
up to 20 players online

Play time:
30-60 hours

ESRB Rating: E (for Everyone) for:
Alcohol references, Use of Tobacco
MegaBearsFan Parental Rating: Parental Guidance Recommended because of:
In-app purchases

Official site:
www.gran-turismo.com/us/

I used to love the Gran Turismo games. I played the shit out of Gran Turismo 1-3. I think I was even close to hitting the 100% completion threshold of GT2 (well, the max 98.2% because the game was bugged and it was actually impossible to get to 100%). 1 and 3 in particular are great games in their own right, and still hold up well today. Gran Turismo 4, however, is when the series started to lose me, due to several changes to the design philosophy of the game that all converged to make it less appealing to me as a matter of personal enjoyment.

I was able to get my hands on a fancy new PS5 over the holidays, and I'm looking for games to play on it, and also technical showcases to see what the fancy new hardware can do. I was especially curious how a simulation racing game would feel on the Dual Sense controllers, with its variety of haptic feedback features. I could see a lot of potential in that genre of game. So I bought Gran Turismo 7 for pretty much this reason alone. It was a little bit for nostalgia too. This game celebrates the 25th anniversary of the series itself. So I went ahead and purchased it for old time's sake.

I was even tempted to buy the Special Edition to get the bonus Toyota Yaris. I figured the Yaris is probably the closest I'll come to being able to drive my real-life Toyota Echo within the game. However, I suspected that if Gran Turismo 7 would be anything like GT 4 or GT 5, it would be giving away cash and cars like candy. So I didn't see any value in the other special edition bonuses, like the extra credits. I sure as hell wasn't going to spend $20 for just one virtual car that I would probably race a handful of times for its novelty before switching to more powerful cars.

A Toyota Yaris GR is already available in standard edition, so I don't see any value in the special edition.

But there's already a GR Yaris in the game anyway, so I'm not sure what is so special about the Special Edition car. Besides, the Aqua and Prius look more like my car anyway. In any case, I hate special edition bonuses, and pre-order bonuses, and retailer-specific content. It's such a cynical fucking slap in the face to us consumers to have content withheld from the game unless we buy a specific edition, or buy from a specific vendor.

Feeling the road in my hands

Anyway, I bought the game to hopefully be a showcase for the technical innovations of the PS5. Of all the games I so far own on the system, none of their use of the PS5 controller's tactile features have really lived up to the promise of the Astro's Playroom game that comes included with the PS5. I was hoping that being a Sony-exclusive, flagship title, Gran Turismo would really wow me. It does do some neat things, but I don't know that I would say that it "wow" me.

This game requires finesse with the gas and brake.

I didn't really start noticing the rumble feature effects until I got further into the game and was playing with much more powerful cars. Up until then, the rumble was mostly reserved for if I hit the rumble strips on the side of the road or actually went off the road, or if I lost traction or spun out. But it felt similar to typical video game rumble. When the cars started to get more powerful, however, I started noticing some additional rumble effects. The engine would vibrate the controller a bit more, and I would also feel a soft thud from the middle of the controller whenever the car would shift gears.

The adaptive triggers do a little bit more heavy lifting. The throttle will stiffen up if the car starts to lose traction or if trying to accelerate up a steep incline, especially in inclement weather. Even in ideal conditions, smashing the gas and hitting top speed in a straightaway will also make the controller feel unstable in my hands, sometimes to the point that I'm genuinely afraid that if I turn the steering wheel at all, I'll instantly lose control and spin out.

By the time I feel the car slipping in the rain, it's already too late.

This actually causes me to loosen my grip on the trigger and throttle down, which usually restores some stability to the car. Instead of completely losing control because I have no way to know just how lose my car's hold on the road is, the adaptive trigger helps me to maintain control by signaling that I am throttling too hard. Pulling my foot off the accelerator pedal a little is exactly what I do in real life if I start to feel my car losing its grip on the road (which happens quite often in the gusty winds of Las Vegas), and that instinct is exactly replicated in the game.

More generally, the adaptive triggers make it uncomfortable to jam on the accelerator or the brake, especially for an extended period. It really encourages slowly depressing each trigger in order to better control the acceleration or braking of the car. Again, this mirrors how a real-life car is controlled. This makes all inputs feel much more deliberate and controlled.

Steering can be done with the motion sensor.

9 and 3

The real surprise highlight of playing Gran Turismo with the Dual Sense controller is steering the cars with the motion sensor. I'm not sure if this option was available in Gran Turismo 5 or 6 on the PS3 and PS4, or if it's available on the PS4 version of Gran Turismo 7, but this is a totally new way of driving a video game car for me. And I'm actually genuinely surprised by how well it works. I chose the motion control option after I booted up the game for the first time, thinking it would be borderline unplayable, and I would switch back to the traditional analog stick steering. But holy hell, I actually stuck with it!

The motion sensor is surprisingly responsive and maps reasonably well to the motion of holding a steering wheel at 9 and 3 o'clock positions. Using this control method, and the first-person cockpit camera, I had little-to-no problem keeping my car in a straight line and steering it through corners. I even got a gold medal on all but 1 of the B-1 license tests (and all but 3 of the A-1 license tests) using the motion controls for steering.

Steering with the motion sensor is surprisingly responsive and accurate.

It is a little awkward to hold for longer races. Holding down the throttle and brake triggers can be a little bit uncomfortable, especially if I'm trying to use my middle finger for them. And trying to use other face buttons often results in my car veering a bit. Holding the controller out in front of me (where a real steering wheel would be) can also be tiring after lengthy races. Not being mounted to a dashboard means I can't rest my hands on the controller the way that I would on a steering wheel.

The "Pokemon of car games"

In general, I'm having a really good time whenever I'm behind the wheel in Gran Turismo 7. Unfortunately, the career built around that driving is a different story. This is where I'm painfully reminded of why I fell out of love with the Gran Turismo series to begin with. Gran Turismo has always given out reward cars for winning certain race events, and the games have always put an emphasis on collecting the cars and learning about their history. Starting with Gran Turismo 4, and continuing on through Gran Turismo 7, I have felt like the game now puts too much emphasis on being a digital car collection, and not enough emphasis on being a racing game. Like, these games expect you to listen to history lectures about your cars and pose them for photo shoots, just as much as they expect you to actually race them.

Original Gran Turismo paid out
a reward for qualifying in 1st.

Most of the races in GT7 are single race events. Long gone are the days of events being a series of consecutive races, on different courses, with a point ranking system and a champion. GT7 doesn't even let the player run qualifying laps to determine your pole position. Not only did the first Gran Turismo allow you to run a qualifying lap for every race, it would even pay out a handsome bonus for qualifying in first position. So even if I had a car that I knew would blow past all the other cars, I would still have an incentive to do a qualifying lap because it would earn additional money, and money was actually relatively valuable in the first game.

Now it's just run 2 laps around the course, and then collect a reward and get a history lecture about the cars you just won. We don't even have to finish in first place in order to win the reward cars anymore. Gift cars are awarded for 3rd place finishes or better! Cars are just being handed out like candy, and this has serious effects on the in-game economy, career progression, and difficulty balancing.

And when they do come along, the rare series events are only challenging because I start every race in the back of the pack. The A.I. drivers are usually super conservative, braking way more than they need to, which keeps the pace of the overall race feeling slow. The slower cars will also block and pit me, which just slows down how quickly I can get up to competing with the faster cars. It is frustrating that there is no opportunity to make a qualifying lap to determine pole position, nor is my starting pole position decided by my overall ranking in the series. Every race becomes a grind just to get past the cars in the back of the pack. This just further encourages using over-powered cars that will blow past the chafe and allow me to quickly get up to competing for a podium position, which just feels cheesy.

There is no option to perform practice runs or do a qualifying lap for pole position.

I rarely (if ever) feel like I need to buy a new car for any race. My garage is filled with a variety of cars that were given to me for free -- most of which will never be driven a single mile -- and surely one of them will work for any given race. I also rarely (if ever) feel any pressure to buy expensive upgrades or tune the cars that I do have, because there is probably a higher-performing car in my garage that I was given for free. And if I did buy any fancy upgrade parts, I feel discouraged to ever manually tune my car for a specific course because there's no option to run practice laps either, so I can't verify that my tuning actually improved my performance on the track. And since I'm switching cars so often, I also don't have much pressure to spend any money on the maintenance of the cars, such as oil changes, engine repairs, or restoring body rigidity.

Gift cars are rewarded even if you finish in 3rd place, and money feels value-less.

The end result is that money feels almost completely without value. I rarely need to spend the money, so it just keeps accumulating in my bank account to the point that within a few hours of play, I have several hundred thousand credits, a garage of over 20 cars (only 1 of which I bought), and I can afford to buy just about any stock car that I would car to have. And if I chose to spend that money on some high-performance supercar, then I'm able to coast through large chunks of the game.

It's telling that the developers of Gran Turismo 7 don't even let the player sell cars from your garage. You can "discard" duplicates of car models that you already own, but you don't get any money for it. If you buy a car, try it out in a race, and find you just don't like it, then too bad because you can't sell it and reclaim any of that cash. The emphasis on collecting cars is so high, and the value of money in the game is so low, that selling un-used cars for cash is simply not allowed. Or maybe this is just a cheap way of trying to force players to have to buy more in-game credits from real-money micro-transactions?

Cars cannot be sold.

And all of this horribly-balanced career progression is in spite of the fact that Gran Turismo 7 has a thoroughly-structured model of progression -- much moreso than previous games -- which I would think would result in a much tighter and more balanced sense of progression and competition. The "cafe" location will give you "menus" of goals to complete -- most of which are simply to acquire a set of three themed cars. Occasionally, a menu goal will ask you to obtain a new license or try out some other feature of the game. I stuck to only doing these menus for my first few weeks with the game, and still felt that the whole career was too easy and out of whack.

I actually had to go out of my wat to do self-imposed challenges in order to make the game not a cakewalk. When entering a race, I would search my garage for a slightly-underpowered car of an appropriate make, model, and decade for the given race event, and use that for my first attempt. I would do this just so that I would have an excuse to buy some upgrades for the car until I could win the race with that car.

Almost all the goals are to collect a themed set of 3 cars.

For example, when it came time to collect a set of Nissan sports cars, I opted not to use my 650 horsepower Camaro (which I had won while completing the previous goal), and instead tried to use the only Nissan cars that I already had in my garage. The best of which was a 171-HP Nissan Silvia S13 which I had won from an earlier race. I bought some basic sport upgrades to bring it up to a level competitive with the other cars in the race, just so that I would have an excuse to spend some money on car upgrades. After placing 2nd or 3rd in all the races (which was still good enough to win all the reward cars and complete the goal), I went back and bought a turbo kit to try to compete for 1st place.

I miss scratching and clawing my way
up the event rankings.

This is a huge departure from the original Gran Turismo, in which I bought a used Civic or Corolla, scratched and clawed to make 3rd or 4th place in the beginner event series, and spent my hard-earned cash on upgrading that little mom-mobile into a competitive racing machine. I felt an attachment to that car, and would use it for most of the early game. Part of that was because of a sunk cost fallacy, but it was also because that upgraded car performed better than most of the (relatively few) early-game reward cars. Heck, I'd usually sell the reward cars to buy more upgrades for my main car. And when that car was finally consistently winning race series, and I earned enough money to buy the kind of car that I really wanted, that car would also feel earned and would be played through most of the rest of the game.

Now, Gran Turismo expects only a token amount of effort from the player to earn its rewards. I don't mind that it's excited to share the history of these machine that the developers are clearly passionate about, but I hate that the desire to be a digital museum comes at the cost of not being a very compelling game.

Driving Grind

Despite being mostly a single-player game, Gran Turismo 7 is still apparently an "always-online" game. On March 17, a few weeks after release, a major patch was published which somehow broke the game's servers. This prevented players (including myself) from being able to play the game, as it just hung on a black loading screen without ever getting to the game's main menu. I couldn't even play offline single player.

It was unplayable for a whole day after an update.

Not that I can complain too much, as it freed me up to play more of Elden Ring, which is a far better game anyway. Also, it's ironic that Elden Ring is a game that is built largely around online, asynchronous multiplayer, yet it is fully playable without a connection to the server or broader internet. The server doesn't even need to be down to play Elden Ring offline, as playing offline is an option on the game's main menu! Yet this single-player racing game, for some reason, requires an always-online server connection?!

The actual content of the Gran Turismo 7 patch (that rendered the game unplayable for a whole day) was to decrease the credit rewards for some races, while also introducing new micro-transactions that allow players to buy in-game credits with real money. It's yet another example in a long line of sleazy video game business practices regarding micro-transactions: release the game without the expensive micro-transactions and grind, so that the ratings board and reviewers with early review code cannot disclose their existence to potentially vulnerable customers; then, a few weeks later, patch in all the micro-transactions and grind. A good 'ol bait-and-switch. It's fraud, plain and simple. If you ask me, the people responsible should be in prison.

Reduced credit rewards for races encourages more micro-transaction purchases.

The silver lining for me, I guess, is that sleazy business practices like this really add value to small, independent reviewers like myself who publish our review weeks or months after the game releases.. I didn't get review code. I had to wait for the game to actually release at retail, and then play the game in my free time (after my 9-5 office job) just like all the rest of us plebs, before I could write and publish this review. You won't find many mentions of grind, micro-transactions, or corporate sleaze and fraud in reviews from bigger publications and influencers because Sony and Polyphony cleverly deviously concealed that stuff until after all the reviews were published.

But you know what? To be honest, any "grind" in Gran Turismo 7 really doesn't bother me all that much. After all, the whole point of this review is that Gran Turismo hands out free cars and money like candy. There's nothing to spend credits on anyway. And honestly, those super-expensive, million-dollar cars aren't supposed to be available to players until the late game. At which point, even with a slightly grindier economy, it's not hard to save up enough money to buy the ones that you most want, unless you've been blowing that cash earlier on cars and upgrades that you don't actually need.

Honestly, cars like this aren't supposed to be affordable until late game anyway.

If you're complaining that a few hours of grinding is not enough to afford a multi-million credit supercar that completely destroys the challenge curve of the game, then I would argue that you might be playing the game wrong.

But to be fair to the critics, they aren't complaining about not being able to afford the showroom cars. They're complaining about the cars in the "Hagerty Collection", which is a set of 5, limited-time, super-expensive cars that are periodically rotated in and out of stock. Some of these cars have prices of well over 10 million credits, and you may only have a matter of days or weeks to grind those credits to buy them before the car is removed from the store -- possibly permanently. That is definitely a legitimate complaint, as it would take a couple dozen hours of grinding in order to be able to afford such a car.

Heck, even if you wanted to just buy the car with real money, it costs $20 to buy 2 million in-game credits. That means that buying the McLaren P1 for 18 and a half million credits would cost almost$200 of real money! For just one car!

Certain super-expensive cars are only available for a limited time, and requires dozens of hours of grinding.

So yeah, this is some shady, sleazy, arguably fraudulent bullshit that Sony and Polyphony is pulling, and it should rightly be called out. Micro-transactions for buying in-game currency should not be in a $70 retail game. Period. Full stop. Further, no retail game should be designed around a grind that encourages players to buy those micro-transactions and bypass that grind. And no game should be trying to take advantage of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) to try to coerce vulnerable players into buying those micro-transactions. And they definitely should not be patching that stuff in after reviewers and ratings agencies have already reviewed the game for content in order to bypass parental warning for in-app purchases.

If you don't want your music in a video game stream,
maybe don't license it for use in the video game?

The update wasn't all bad. It also added a "Streamer Mode" that replaces licensed music with un-licensed music. So at least I won't get copyright strikes for streaming to Twitch or YouTube now. It shouldn't be a problem to begin with, because using the console's built-in and highly-promoted ability to stream as it is intended to be used should not constitute a copyright violation to begin with. So either Twitch and YouTube are falsely accusing me of a crime that I didn't commit (in which case, I should be able to sue them), or Sony is breaking copyright law by permitting streaming in the first place. But that's a discussion for another time...

Micro-transaction-encouraging grind or no, Gran Turismo 7 simply doesn't have a very compelling campaign to begin with. The actual racing behind the wheel is as great as it's ever been, and the Dual Sense controller on the PS5 is actually a half-way decent substitute for a steering wheel. It's just too bad that everything built around that central experience of driving just gets in the way.

HUD elements often cover up the cockpit mirrors, making them difficult to see.

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The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

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Meteor strikes Russia at same time as an asteroid passes within orbit of geo-synchronous satellitesMeteor strikes Russia at same time as an asteroid passes within orbit of geo-synchronous satellites02/15/2013 Big news on February 15: a meteor struck Russia at the same time that an asteroid passed within the orbit of geo-synchronous satellites.

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