Polyphony Digital and the Gran Turismo franchise hold a special place in my heart. I remember as a young kid getting stuck on the licences, my older cousin would do them all and give me the save on a memory card. I remember getting a go of the red Suzuki race car, which was the fastest in the game, and being blown away by it. I remember my first experience of the “infamous” corkscrew corner at Laguna Seca and careering off into a spectacular crash completely unexpectedly. Most of all though, I remember how it was my first window into how a car actually works. Upgrading air filters and buying a turbo and really feeling the difference on the track. Reading the descriptions of what a camshaft does and how this new one is an improvement over the old one and so on. I barely understood any of it back then but it opened my eyes to an entire world I had no clue about before hand.
During the PS3/Xbox 360 generation I, like many people, got an Xbox instead of a PlayStation and fortunately; courtesy of Turn 10 and the Forza franchise I didn’t miss out on that GT style fix. Forza 3 impressed me immensely, I took great delight in turning my very ordinary Ford Fiesta into an absolute rocket ship of a car with purple alloys and livery I designed myself. I spent countless hours tuning my cars to get the best out of them. I shared one of my more cherished memories with my dad when I let him have a go of a Saab 99 Turbo, a car he had driven in real life and loved. For 5 or 10 minutes he drove round in the game, feathering the throttle and just enjoying hearing the noises it made again.
This generation though, I’ve only got a PS4 so I’ve missed out on Forza and it took a long time for GT Sport to even come along. Sure, there are other games that have helped fill that gap in my life, chief among which being Project Cars 2 which is the most impressive driving sim I’ve ever played in terms of its realism and how the driving feels. With its focus on proper motor racing however it can’t fill the gap that Forza Motorsport and the proper Gran Turismo titles do. This is also why, in spite of how enjoyable I find it, I don’t love GT Sport. It is missing that aspect because it focuses on actual motorsports and the cars that would compete in them. They’ve a less comprehensive catalogue of cars in the game as a result.
Another feature that is missing is the upgrades. As I mentioned earlier, in the past I took great joy in turning my run of the mill, ordinary, everyday cars into track destroying monsters. I vividly remember grinding away on races I couldn’t quite win just to get the credits I needed to buy an upgrade that would see me to victory. Now, there is a feature to improve your cars in GT Sport, you spend mile points to upgrade your engine power or to reduce the weight of your car. That’s fine but it is superficial. It isn’t the same as deciding between getting the more expensive turbo but not being able to upgrade the brakes until you’d earned more credits. Or maybe it made more sense to buy the lighter flywheel and some weight reduction kit instead.
My verdict then, is mixed. As expected of Polyphony the mechanics and visuals of the game are outstanding. The default steering sensitivity settings were a little low and felt more barge like than sports car controls but that was easily sorted in the options menu (Unlike my experience of DriveClub which was so stiff I didn’t even make it through the opening drive). There’s a lot of great stuff in there but the experience is a little shallow for me compared to a numbered Gran Turismo title. My hope is that Polyphony are working on that next numbered title for when PS5 comes around. If they manage to launch within a year of the console, that’ll be a major boost for both.