Can you believe more than eight years have passed since the last full Gran Turismo game? Actually, who am I kidding—fans of the series have become accustomed to lengthy waits between installments. That wait is very nearly over, though, because on Thursday, Gran Turismo 7 arrives for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 consoles.
It’s been a wait filled with some trepidation. Although GT titles were massively overrepresented in my very unscientific ranking of console racing games a while back, some installments of the franchise from Polyphony Digital have not been as good as others—looking at you, GT5. But that was then, and this is now, and there’s an entirely new generation of hardware to show off the series’ trademark dazzling realism.
GT7 shows that Polyphony Digital has not lost its touch. There’s room for improvement—history suggests that updates will happen over time—and there’s no doubt that the game plays better on the hard-to-find PS5 than the more commonplace PS4. But in trying times, GT7 is the racing game equivalent of comfort food, made from a recipe refined over 25 years but updated for the 4K generation.
25 years young
Although GT6 debuted on the PS3 at the end of 2013, it wasn’t actually the last GT release. Polyphony Digital has gotten into the habit of showcasing its new game engines by releasing “minimally viable games” with relatively few cars and tracks, leading up to a later full game release. In the past, those stripped-down titles often felt like expensive demos. The GT series arrived on the PS4 in 2017 as GT: Sport, a game focused heavily on esports and online multiplayer. GT: Sport got a mixed reception when it was released, but it got better with updates and has remained my go-to if I have free time for a racing fix.
GT7 builds on that game by adding back in all the elements that feel essential to Gran Turismo. The online multiplayer and esports stuff have carried over, but now they’re just a small part of the overall package.
The center of GT7‘s world is the Café, a hub run by a character named Luca. He’s prepared menus for you to work your way through, many of which require you to complete certain races to win specific cars—a trio of French hatchbacks or three different Ford Mustangs, for example.
Once you finish each of the menus, you’ll be treated to a little montage and some exposition about why your cars are important. When Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi briefed us on the game several weeks ago, he said that his goal for the game is “exciting people to the allure of cars,” and this is one way GT7 goes about that. In addition to Luca, several other NPCs are ready and waiting in the Café with car-trivia demo scenes.
Arrayed around the Café are various other locations, some of which will be familiar to GT veterans. A tuning shop sells aftermarket performance parts, and it has a more extensive range of modifications than those seen in GT6. Sadly, the old “race modification” upgrade from the first couple of PS1 games hasn’t returned. But you can bolt on bigger turbos and stickier tires, and you can strip out weight to your heart’s content.
It wouldn’t be Gran Turismo without a car wash and oil change
If the tuning shop is all about making your ride go faster, the GT Auto section is about making your car look faster. This is where you can customize your car with new paint, wheels, and bodywork. You can even personalize your race suit and helmet.
But the tuning shop is also where you do your essential car maintenance. As you add miles to a car, its oil will degrade, the engine will get tired, and eventually the body’s rigidity will decline. If GT6 is any guide, you’ll need to add thousands of miles to a car before this kind of work is necessary.
Adding new cars happens in one of several ways. Each completed Café menu adds between one and three cars to your garage, so it’s possible to amass a large collection without spending any of the credits you earn from completing races and other events and challenges. But you can also just buy cars instead of winning them—that will satisfy Luca just as much as seeing you win the car.
Purchasing happens in three places: the used car dealership, Brand Central, and the Legend Cars collection. The used car dealership is self-explanatory—it sells older cars that have some miles on them. The stock rotates, so you’re not guaranteed to find what you’re looking for. And even if the car of your dreams is in stock, it may not be cheap. Brand Central carries over from GT: Sport and splits the various OEMs into three geographic regions (America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific). This is where you’ll find brand-new cars to buy plus information about each of the car companies. Legend Cars is where you can buy the rarest and most historic—not to mention the most expensive—cars in the game. Be prepared to grind for some of them, though; price tags are as high as 20 million credits.
At launch, GT7 will have about 420 cars, which is a far cry from the earlier titles that offered more than 1,000 to collect. Sadly, you’ll have seen a lot of these cars already if you’ve played GT: Sport. But that game’s car count ballooned from 168 at launch to 338 as of this writing, and Polyphony Digital has already told us that it will add more rides and tracks to GT7 as time goes on.