Twenty years ago, Kazunori Yamauchi addressed the genre of driving with unprecedented ambition: that first ‘Grand Tour’ was a resounding blow to the table in the visual and playable, raising drastically the standard of what could be expected, not just the genre , but the hardware of the original PlayStation. An example of a handbook of what comes to be a gimmick.
Today, Yamauchi returns with ‘Gran Turismo Sport’, an even more ambitious project. One that comes a year later than expected and is measured with titans such as ‘Forza 7’ or ‘Project Cars 2’ – two of its outstanding students – in a glorious 2017 for fans of the engine on consoles. However, this time, we are not facing a numbered delivery: the great revolution that called for the engine genre was not in the finish of the vehicles, and the Polyphony Digital team is clear the way forward.
‘Gran Turismo Sport’ gives a first impression continuista in the visual plane and at the time of putting us in front of the Dualshock or the steering wheel. Yes, there is a technical evolution that we will talk about later, but neither is it something that will surprise anyone: the previous delivery came to a PS3 that was welcoming its successor, but it is not enough to take a big leap in the resolution. Why not enter PS4 with a ‘Gran Turismo 7’?
The new work of Yamauchi takes the initiative of the first four deliveries to the next level and reinforces several shortcomings of the following two, going in parallel with the true germ of the saga: daring to offer the player the opportunity to be a true motor pilot in a digital medium. And the response of the Japanese genius and his team is the way that gives name to ‘Gran Turismo Sport’.
The Gran Turismo saga reaches PS4
When talking about the visual aspect of ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ it is necessary, practically obligatory, to have two references: on the one hand the vehicles and circuits do not cause the same impact to the player that 20 years ago or that ‘Gran Turismo 3 A- spec ‘with which Polyphony virtually opened the catalog of PS2 games. Moreover, current generation of consoles has been offering great engine proposals for years and even recent licenses have been able to position themselves thanks to the possibilities of the current hardware.
But then we have something that has surprised us pleasantly: ‘GT Sport’ takes advantage of no other possibilities of the High Dynamic Range from the beginning: if we have a TV ready you will detect it when you run the game for the first time, and although we will go through it the usual process of visual configuration, at the beginning of our first races we will see that (with or without the HDR) the illumination of the game or its contrast is unlike what has been seen so far: reflections, landscapes, sparkles or textures have been worked consciously. ‘Gran Turismo’ is one of the best ambassadors of this technology.
That yes, to get some circuits that flirt, according to what stretch, with the photorealism and cars fully integrated in them – thanks to some finishes that demonstrate the generational jump – has a price to pay: in ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ there will be no climate transition , so that if we decide to perfect our route of a circuit we will be before an eternal sunset, literally. Now, before entering race we will offer different hours of the day and weather conditions. It is not a bad deal, if we consider the result.
In the playable, on the other hand, the touch of the saga is evident: the detractors of the style ‘Gran Turismo’ will find again cars that barely get off the ground, skids at the first shift, collisions between vehicles that maybe behind other sagas and a magical deceleration that occurs when we get off the road. In fact, although we mistreat our car thoroughly, we will see minor damages.
But fans of the saga will see the counterpoint to all of the above: ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ generously rewards the most disciplined and constant drivers, those who memorize every curve and dare to look for the most effective route in limit situations and who are aware that it is possible to climb seven positions in a same lap based on experience on the asphalt, to dominate our vehicle and with sufficient rebufo. That feeling that pushes us to get the perfect lap is still there.
As usual for newcomers to ‘Gran Turismo’ as well as those who want to catch up on this saga, we will again have a driving academy, but now our goal is not to obtain driving licenses to unlock tracks and vehicles , but to advance our objectives as a player, of which we will speak later. What’s more, this new academy, now renamed Campaign mode, aims to prepare us for the true ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ strong plate.
Polyphony does not return with another racing game, but with a competition
The revolution that offers ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is to offer the player the ultimate experience as a pilot, but we are not referring to the control system, but to bet on a set of modes, activities and progression system that emulate the feeling of being integrated into a competitive circuit. One capable of keeping us in control for months – as a minimum – and able to strengthen the passion for the engine of any player, including the most inexperienced.
In other words: the objective is not to encourage the collector or completist part of the user based on medals, cars and drinks, but to make him participate in a larger project. One that ends up being the main pillar of the playable proposal, without prejudice to the other alternatives of the title, and that, by the way, gives name to the project: Sport mode is the ace in the sleeve of Yamauchi.
The initiative itself seeks to reward each victory, kilometer and minute that the player invests in in the game, reflected in our Pilot Profile. A profile that will settle the online match based on the double system of Sportsmanship classification (our attitude as players) and Pilot Classification (our ability as players).
The main idea is that we participate in competitions to which we give value and against users who take them seriously. Put another way: that the game itself is a sport in which anyone can participate, train and compete. And when we enter the podium, we have the feeling of having achieved a real achievement in front of other runners.
In this way, our real objective, in addition to accumulating credits and experience with which to back up our driving skills with new cars or cosmetic elements, will be to ascend positions within the Driver Classification and measure ourselves with ever better runners, increasing even more competitive element of the game.
However, the delicate point of the mode is perhaps the best that has been solved by Polyphony Digital. At all times we will have access to events and championships that are generated on a regular basis and with a fairly reasonable frequency, so that we can sign up with about 15 minutes in advance and even practice the circuit in which we will compete with the vehicle we have selected.
It could take as a negative thing to have to wait so long to have to compete from the moment we point to a competition in case we do not want to go around the clock, but it is a really effective system for the pairing it will work and we will not take too many games to catch the timing between opening the inscriptions and start the race, yes, with your return warm-up.
Up front we will have four types of competitions, two of them endorsed by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile itself: daily races will be the most common events in which we will play our classification, we will gain experience – and credits – and we will strengthen our pilot profile .
The cups of Nations and those of manufacturers would be the next level and have the backing of the FIA. Moreover, continuing with the tradition, to participate in the competitions of manufacturers we will have to sign a contract of season with the mark. And if these three modes were not enough, we have the Polyphony Digital Championship.
In fact, there is a mandatory requirement to start competing in the Sport mode: we will have to see two videos that will show us the rules of conduct that we are recommended to have in front of the other riders: no crashes, force them off the track and take advantage of shortcuts that make us leave the circuit. It never hurts to remember that the philosophy behind ‘Gran Turismo’ is different from that of the indispensable ‘Super Mario Kart’.
However, that the game is absolutely focused on Sport Mode has a side effect: in ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ it is only possible to save our progress when we are connected to the internet. If we do not have a connection (or drop the PSN servers) we can only participate in Arcade mode to enjoy the circuits that we have unlocked. What’s more, we will not be able to take advantage to buy new cars or take pictures to those we already have.
On the other hand, if we look for a classic and more personalized online experience, or simply want to compete with friends and acquaintances in tournaments organized by us, we will have the Rooms mode at our disposal, allowing to select the circuit, norms and conditions of the race or join one that has created another player. And yes, ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ does not forget the local game and we will have the option to play split screen. As it should be!
Yamauchi’s tribute to the passionate engine
Defining Kazunori Yamauchi is easy: an engine enthusiast with an understandable and well-founded obsession with details. And ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is the best example of its philosophy: we will have at our disposal a fascinating selection of cars from the best brands in the world, and the best is how, when we visit each dealership, we are impregnated with the legacy of the manufacturer: we will have access to complete infographics of each house, a calendar that carefully reviews the evolution of the motor industry and even events.
Unfortunately, in ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ many manufacturers remain in the inkwell, at least entry, although there are also star signings for the occasion. Among the European dealers disappear – for example – Opel, so this year I will not be able to measure my skills with the digital counterpoint of my Corsa. But the debut of Porsche among the German emblems does not go unnoticed.
In terms of customization, we can paint and edit the exterior appearance of our vehicles and our avatar. The editor of ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is quite comfortable and intuitive, allowing us to edit on a layered basis and with little effort the body, hood, roof and practically any exterior element of the Tourists.
Now, our customization options do not go much further. We can change the tires or the tone of the painting, but we will not see crazy spoilers, bizarre bumpers or neon lights that shine under our car. In fact, and as we said something above, ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ will not be the delivery that introduces the damages by collisions in the saga.
But that does not mean that we do not have the possibility to customize the interior of our vehicles, since before each race we can make the necessary adjustments so that the experience at the wheel is exactly the one we want: from tire type to traction, including variants for road, ground and skid circuits, reflecting the effects of each change on the left margin of the screen.
However, beyond Sport, the most ambitious mode is the very ambitious photography mode, in which we can immortalize the vehicles we are acquiring or winning in scenarios of all kinds: from exotic natural locations to urban or rural environments. Some with a folkloric touch, others with an industrial aspect and, in general, prints in which to lose themselves with the look even without any car claiming the protagonism.
This mode called Landscapes allows us to place vehicles in static photographs, although we take into account the light, shadows and reflections so that each car is fully integrated in the image without touch-ups. But the interesting thing is that we can play with a huge range of options before shooting the photo: from the headlights of the car to the aperture adjustment, different zooms, shutter speed or the type of focus. What’s more, we can add effects by layers, achieving fascinating results with very little effort.
An interesting detail is that, beyond the scenarios included, Polyphony Digital has enabled a totally free pack with nine gigabytes of extra locations. Thus, if we are not going to give way to this mode we will not have to take up more space than necessary in our console.
The opinion of GamerInsiders: why the focus of Sport is the future of driving games
‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is one of the unquestionable battle horses of the Sony console for several reasons, especially considering that it offers the possibility of driving with a PlayStation VR looking for strong titles in the arcade mode. However, the return of the saga of driving par excellence of the family of PlayStation consoles was a debt pending with users for quite some time, despite ‘Driveclub’.
As we said at the outset, the new focus of this installment is the push that was calling out for a genre that was fragmented between offering a more demanding or more accessible game system towards the player, and in which – for whom previous did not care too much – the weight of the proposal was finally measured through its visual finish.
In this sense, ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is not born to be another one of those games that you are going to devote the time that you take to complete its main modes and to cover your garage, but as a competitive platform with its own integrated daily training system : doing a minimum of kilometers a day, events that do affect our overall ranking and lots of rewards that reinforce that component of gratification for our time spent in a way not previously seen in other driving games.
But ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is also not the perfect driving game and continues to bet on its own way of understanding motor sports in the playable. After two decades at the helm of the saga, Kazunori Yamauchi continues to refine a formula whose goal is to offer the best and most realistic experience behind the wheel of the best cars, but now the key is to give value to the competition. In short, we approach your proposal with the same passion that we would approach any sports discipline.
The next big step in the driving genre is no longer in the level of detail of vehicles and circuits, and the approach of ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ is an example that other driving titles should study to implant sooner or later.
Gran Turismo Sport
- The Sport mode
- The competitive focus of the saga
- The landscape mode options are impressive
- Despite the technical achievement, it does not end up impressing against other driving games. Can not yet deform bodies?
- A system of game too continuista for who is not fan of the saga