For a lot of people, Gran Turismo is just another PlayStation game. But for me, it's much, much more. You see, I've been playing every generation of the game since I was 5. And you know what, GT has a lot of influence on where I am today.
Let's take it back to 2011. I was just a 16-year old freshman when I stumbled upon AutoIndustriya's Gran Turismo 5 Challenge. My intentions were just to play Gran Turismo with a wheel for the first time since I was used to playing with a controller. However, little did I know that giving GT5 a try would land me a shot at the tournament's finals, where I surprisingly outpaced a professional racecar driver. For a young college kid to achieve that (even though it was a virtual race) was such an amazing feeling. My bragging rights just went up ten-fold. But kidding aside, that was my ultimate eureka moment.
Five years and two succeeding Gran Turismo titles later, there I was, chasing my dream to become a NISMO athlete and representing Team Philippines in the United Kingdom for Nissan GT Academy. Unfortunately, one big mishap occurred and I lost my shot. In other words, I came up short. However, it's still amazing how I was able to reach the famed racing grounds of Silverstone by simply playing Gran Turismo. Using my mom's words, “Kaka-computer mo yan”.
Now, it feels like everything has come full circle. I'm now with the guys who helped me discover something I could be good at, and I'm back behind the wheel playing the latest Gran Turismo 7. Oh, and I almost forgot, I'm using the office's sim rig. Work has its perks.
As I fired up the PlayStation 4, two thoughts ran through my head. How different is GT7 now compared to before? And what's new? After going through the first few hours of playing, I found the answers. the game frustrated and satisfied me at the same time. Let me tell you why.
We were lucky to get a 25th-anniversary edition copy for PS4 that let us start off with more than a million game credits and three GT3 bonus cars. But apparently, that's the end of it.
By coincidence, the internet at the office slowed down. With 100 GB to download, I had to wait for more than 6 hours. And guess what, I only got to drive in three playable circuits just like everyone else who got the retail version of the game. Bummer; and I had to face the wrath of my editor for this?
But, we're here anyway. Let's start racing. I had to go through Sunday Cup races to unlock more tracks and menus along the way. In fact, we finished passing the National A license test and we still didn't have the GT Auto customization menu yet. I already want to get the cars all dressed up for crying out loud. We still have quite a ways to go. It looks like the makers of Gran Turismo 7 want us to spend a lot of time playing the game to really appreciate all of its features.
The “real-er” driving simulator?
Previous generations of Gran Turismo often drew harsh criticisms from hardcore sim enthusiasts for being a simcade game, including yours truly. Back then, when I wanted something more authentic or has physics closer to real life, I'd play other games. If I just wanted to have fun and drive lots of cars, I play Gran Turismo.
But now, based on my initial seat time, that narrative can now be buried in the past. Polyphony Digital, with the help of Michelin and Brembo, developed the game's physics, and I'm glad it paid off.
Just a quick tip: Unlearn whatever techniques you discovered for driving fast in GT Sport. Chances are, it won't work. With the driving assists turned down, I found myself losing control of the car much easier than ever, and it requires much more effort on the limit to keep it on the black stuff. Most of us in the office had the same sentiments after we took turns playing.
This could get frustrating for some, but once you keep the assists turned on, it plays just like the previous Gran Turismo titles - easy, fun, and addicting. The developer struck a good compromise of satisfying hardcore sim enthusiasts without losing its beginner fanbase with the way they designed the gameplay.
The epic opening movie got us all hyped up
We've already waited 8 long years for a new full GT game, around 6 hours for the download to finish, and once you start the game for the first time, you face an 8-minute long opening movie you cannot skip through. More waiting? By this time, my patience was running thin.
It feels like a history lesson on cars in the early part. As a certified car nerd, I initially found it boring, as I was already familiar with some examples shown in the movie. However, as it shifted to the modern age, I sort of realized Polyphony Digital wants to show the fascinating car culture to the unfamiliar and they did so convincingly.
Halfway through, the opening movie shifts into GT7 game footage, showing the best of what Gran Turismo has always offered throughout the years and got me all hyped up, especially with the nostalgic “Moon Over The Castle” playing in the background.
To sum it all up, Gran Turismo 7 managed to invoke all the familiar emotions we felt on previous GT games, while at the same time injecting new excitement with the way it plays. Don't get me wrong, the game can still be played by beginners, which is a welcome sight for perhaps a new breed of sim to real-life racing drivers.
Kudos to Sony and Polyphony Digital for creating a game with all the makings of a future classic. Thank you for showing us that patience has its rewards. Now let's get back to playing.