Gran Turismo Sport is a PlayStation exclusive sim racing game developed by Polyphony Digital, designed to provide the ultimate console sim racing experience. In this review, I’ll discuss where I think it succeeded in this ambition, and where I think it could have done better.
GT Sport offers a brilliant sim racing experience for beginners and intermediate sim racers alike. While the selection of cars, tracks and game modes isn’t the most diverse, the visuals, audio and overall racing experience of GT Sport make it a great all-round sim racing title.
Below, I’ll go through each of these points in more detail, discussing how the game feels and performs from the perspective of a beginner sim racer, and someone with a bit more experience. First, let’s go through a brief overview of what I think about GT Sport.
An Overview Of GT Sport
While GT Sport was released in 2018, it still holds up as one of the most popular console sim racing games in 2023. Part of this is down to its real playability, with a fairly easy handling model for beginners that also offers enough to keep more advanced racers interested. I’ll go into more detail about how it feels to drive soon, but overall it feels quite good, and perfectly acceptable for a sim.
GT Sport also looks and sounds great. From the design of the track environments to the way the cars look, Polyphony clearly did a good job in the graphics department. The game also sounds excellent, which marks a change from some previous titles. While not industry leading, it sounds miles better than others like Forza Motorsport 7.
Tracks And Cars
The tracks themselves look and feel good to drive on, although there aren’t a whole lot of them. With just 29 locations and 82 layouts, it definitely feels like there could have been more here. The same can be said for the cars, with just under 340 in total. While this is more than enough for the casual racer, the relatively low number left many fans wanting more.
However, the cars do feel great to drive, and as with any good racing sim they all feel different in their own ways. Force feedback is good, although it’s nothing compared to the likes of iRacing or even Project Cars 2. With decent compatibility with wheel setups, and great playability on a gamepad, GT Sport is very accessible to all levels of experience in the world of sim racing.
However, in order to really understand where GT Sport sits in the rankings, we need to take a closer look at its strengths and weaknesses.
GT Sport’s Main Strengths
Let’s start off with the game modes on offer. While there are fun solo modes to try, like the usual time trials and driving school aspects, the real racing is the best part of GT Sport. The game is geared towards the Sport mode, which serves as the multiplayer aspect of the game.
This is where you can take part in what is perhaps the crown jewel of the game: the daily races. While these were originally races that rotated from day to day, they now follow a weekly system. There are three events, designed to be roughly setup as an easy, medium and hard option.
This is a really fun way to try multiplayer sim racing if you’re new to the genre. With each daily race, you’re forced to use the same class, race conditions, and in some cases even the same car every time you attempt it. This serves as forced practice for one thing, but it also means you get loads of opportunities to get good at one specific race type.
Let’s say you enjoy driving GT3 cars, and there is a daily race specifically for this class. You can keep playing this to your heart’s content, enjoying the journey of inevitable improvement. In some other racing games, you’re at the mercy of the rest of the lobby to choose the next track or racing conditions, and in some cases it’s entirely random.
While some might find this repetitive, I think it gives you a great chance to improve as a sim racer while also taking on real world opponents. It allows you to learn tracks in a competitive environment, and the weekly rotation is more than often enough for me. By Sunday night I might be a little bored of a specific car and track combination, but come Monday morning it changes anyway.
The matchmaking system seems to be fairly on point, and this has a lot to do with the game’s driver and safety ratings. These are almost lifted straight out of iRacing, but for good reason. Rarely have I found myself in a lobby with racers that are either miles ahead of me or miles behind, with most drivers respecting you as a fellow racer, and respecting the fact their own ratings depend on it.
If you want to go the extra mile, there are competitive leagues and tournaments even 3 years after the game’s release. These are filled with drivers from the very passionate GT Sport community, and it’s impressive that the game still ranks so highly in the world of competitive sim racing. If competitive racing isn’t for you though, you can still have fun in the solo game modes.
There is a driving school mode, where you can learn the basics of sim racing or learn how to master a specific track. It’s fun to try and get all the gold medals, and this will appeal to any racer that loves the collectible aspect of racing games. You can also try and collect all the cars of course, but this can get quite expensive and time consuming, but you do get a free one every day!
How Does It Feel To Drive?
As for how the game feels, it does well to sit somewhere near Project Cars 2 in terms of force feedback and realism. It’s not too fierce or overwhelming, and this makes it easy to pick up as a beginner. More experienced racers might feel as if there is something lacking, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a sim racing game, but it’s probably hard to call it a full-on racing simulator.
The game is very playable on a gamepad too, and this is crucial for beginners that don’t have a sim racing setup or for those that simply prefer to play on a controller. The handling model translates well from gamepad to wheel and offers enough realism to make you feel like you’re playing one of the better sim racing games on the market.
The tracks and cars are also good, but I’ll talk more about why they’re just “good” in a moment. I found the rally tracks to be surprisingly fun, and this shows just how versatile a racing game GT Sport really is. There’s a good selection of fictional tracks, but I found the real ones like Spa and Monza to be the most fun. But overall, it’s a fairly eclectic mix that keeps the game interesting.
GT Sport’s Main Strengths:
- Great sound and visuals
- Good force feedback and handling model
- Very accessible for beginners
- Excellent online mode and matchmaking system
Where GT Sport Is Lacking
Now it’s time to discuss where GT Sport falls short. The main gripe I – and a large portion of the sim racing community – have with the game is the fact that it’s dependent on you having an internet connection. While we live in the digital age where everyone is normally online, sometimes we do get disconnected.
When this happens, you lose access to all but the arcade section of GT Sport. This is where you can do some time trials to keep you occupied while your Wi-Fi gets fixed, but you can’t even buy a new car without a connection. Obviously, you can’t use the multiplayer game mode in this situation either, but you’d expect to be able to at least play some sort of career mode.
No Career Mode
But that’s where the next problem with GT Sport comes in – there is no career mode. There is the “Campaign” mode, which holds within it various sub game modes (including time trials against Lewis Hamilton – for a fee), but the one I played the most was the GT League mode.
This consists of different cups, within which are various races at different tracks under different conditions that are fun enough, but don’t offer any kind of progression apart from giving you some cash to spend on cars. However, this also takes a very long time, and the game can quickly feel very grindy.
A Subpar Menu System
Once you do have enough money to buy a new car, your next challenge is to find one you want. This involves traversing some awful menu systems, which I think are so poor as a result of running the entire thing off an internet connection. The cars are then poorly laid out, and it becomes tough to compare any options without a lot of jumping around the menu screens.
Considering the game is absolutely huge, coming in at more than 110 GB, it’s hard to believe just how few cars and tracks you can choose from. Granted they all look great, but the selection is just nowhere near as good as some of its competitors. Pair that with a very limited weather and time of day system and it can start to feel like there is a lot lacking here.
Force Feedback And Realism
The cars do feel good to drive, as I said earlier, but the force feedback could be improved. It’s not quite on par with Project Cars 2 or anything above that in the sim racing hierarchy, and traction can feel like it drops off a cliff at the slightest bit of wheelspin.
While the multiplayer system is brilliant, it has to be said that the penalty system is notorious for being a bit unfair. I haven’t personally experienced too many issues, but all you have to do is check out a handful of GT Sport YouTube videos to see what the rest of the community thinks of it.
Overall, the game is great, but it feels like the focus has drifted away from the racing glory for which the Gran Turismo franchise is known and has instead been put on trying to do too many new things at once. For example, there’s VR compatibility, but only on certain arcade modes. And there’s a great looking photo mode, but how much are you really going to use that?
GT Sport’s Main Weaknesses:
- Force feedback and driving physics are not best in class
- There’s not a huge selection of cars and tracks
- It’s always online
- There’s no real campaign or career mode
GT Sport – What’s The Verdict?
Clearly GT Sport is one of the better options for sim racers that play on console. The game offers some amazing graphics and excellent audio quality, and it has a stellar online mode that can make it very easy for beginners to get a taste of competitive sim racing. Plus, the handling model and overall feel of the game is at a fairly high level.
However, the game does lack the sheer diversity in car and track selection that some of its competitors offer. The fact that it’s all online can also present some problems, and the absence of a solid career mode is hard to overlook. However, it’s still a great game overall, and worth picking up for both beginners and more experienced sim racers alike, and anyone that just enjoys a bit of racing.
GT Sport offers a fun, accessible and visually excellent sim racing game for PlayStation players. With an amazing online platform and vast racing community, the game functions well as a gateway into the world of competitive sim racing. As long as you can cope with the internet requirements and lack of a real campaign mode, you’ll probably really enjoy playing GT Sport.