The Grand Turismo franchise dates back to the humble beginnings of the PlayStation in 1997. Since then, there have been six major releases, but the latest one, Gran Turismo Sport, is unlike any one of its predecessors.

That’s because developer Polyphony Digital has take a big pivot into eSports, and Gran Turismo Sport, the seventh major title from the series, fully embraces that identity. Traditionalist won’t like the new changes, but they grow on you over time.

The game came out over two months ago, so this isn’t a full-on review of the game. You probably know everything you need to know already. Instead, it’s a quick run through of everything that we loved about the game and some of our minor grievances we hope Polyphony Digital fixes in the next generation.

Gran Turismo Sport is a lot of fun with a bunch of cool modes, cars and tracks to choose from, but it is different. A few major changes have been made to the series. First, instead of having an endless supply of cars to choose from, you now have to settle for a derisory 170 . Tracks have also been cut significantly. There are 40 courses on 17 unique tracks.

The real-life simulation that made past Gran Turismo games is also gone. Buying parts is a thing of the past, as is taking your car in for an oil change or tire rotation. It’s hard not to miss this aspect of the game.

Although there are only 170 cars in the game, the one you want is probably included. Since I drive a VW GTI, I opted to drive the available Mark VII GTI version. It’s not quite as peppy as the available McLarens or agile as the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but what can I say, I have a soft spot for the hatchback.

There are three modes to choose from: Campaign Mode, Sport Mode and Arcade Mode. Campaign Mode is the one will you will play the most, but it isn’t the most fun. You’ll have to go through a few levels, including Driving School in which you learn how to properly drive. It ends up being more tedious than anything, with a slight letdown when you aren’t able to use all of the tricks you learn in Driving School while racing. 

A recent update brought back the single-player mode to race for the classic cups that were a lot of fun in past games. The update also added more cars, which is always a good thing.

In terms of graphical performance, Polyphony hit it out of the ball park. Selecting the time of day and weather brings out photorealistic track simulations that look utterly fantastic. The same applies to the car handling, with the ability to tweak things like ABS or traction control to help or attain better control of the cars. All of this is neatly put together by otherworldly sound effects that perfectly deliver every tire screech, crunching collision or beefy engine rev.

This is without a doubt the most realistic Gran Turismo game.

The big push into eSports can be felt through the importance of online racing. Excluding Arcade Mode, everything is online. Your progress, earned credit or Sportsmanship score, is all tied up online. Even saving is done through Sony’s servers, not locally on your PS4.

There is also a VR mode that fully immerses you in a virtual driving cockpit, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to test it out.

Go into playing Gran Turismo Sport with an open mind. While starkly deviating from the Gran Turismo DNA, it still offers a lot of new elements that push the franchise in an exciting new direction. If you have an extra gift card and have been looking for a PS4 game to check out, consider this one. Gran Turismo Sport will occupy your time dutifully.

Disclaimer: Sony provided TechnoBuffalo with a copy of Gran Turismo Sport.

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