A gourmet approach to microtransactions makes an otherwise sublime racing experience feel like a lemon.
Gran Turismo 3 on PlayStation 2 was my first major introduction to video game racing games and, honestly, probably explains a lot of my complicated relationship with the genre. You see, racing games fall on a spectrum ranging from so overly realistic and detailed you think of tire pressure to arcade-y where you try to drift enough corners to fill your boost gauge.
Sony’s Gran Turismo genre falls solidly on the overly realistic spectrum with test drives that challenge you to understand the difference between oversteer and understeer – something I still vaguely recognize – when trying to perfect your lap times. It’s never been the flashiest game around with graphics that lean more towards the real world and cars that run like, well, real world cars. There is no boost meter to be found here.
Yet realism has always had its appeal in racing. There’s something cool about learning how to handle the turns of a race track and understanding that you can’t hit every corner at full speed. The allure of driving real-world vehicles (some of the previous entries also had exhaustive collections of cars right down to minivans) and sprucing them up with all sorts of mods was a lot of fun.
And that’s especially true for the latest version of Gran Turismo 7, which was released earlier this month on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. It’s a beautiful, understated game that oozes love for cars and their stories. that few other games achieve.
The real racing activity has come a long way since the days of the PlayStation 2 with excellent graphics that truly resemble the real world and vehicles that handle and react realistically. Feedback via adaptive triggers and rumble on the PlayStation 5 controller is excellent and you can feel the subtle differences in road and car performance. As before, realism comes with its challenges and the best way I’ve found to compensate for my less than stellar driving is to simply have a car that’s faster than everyone else, which is quite easy with the very detailed games with loads of options for every skill level.
It’s just…everything else that really holds it back and ultimately makes it a largely frustrating and unexciting game to play.
For such a masterful base game, a lot of other elements are just undercooked.
There isn’t really a single-player mode other than this braindead cafe system where a barista just hands out a handful of fairly standard challenges like reaching the podium in a specific trio of races or collecting a trio of specific cars that, surprise , are available as rewards in a specific trio of races. In a game where there are lots of different and neat roads, races and cars to explore, the single-player storyline offers no neat rabbit holes to descend into rally racing, classic cars or speed racing. -show. Instead, it holds your hand far too long before you reach the end, and it stops and leaves you with no real direction.
Additionally, the car selection is thin and limited with many manufacturer lines ending around 2017.
And that brings me to the game’s biggest problem: the cars cost too much and the races pay you far too little. This quickly turns the game into a tedious chore where you play the same handful of easily winnable races over and over until you can finally get the supercar you’ve been looking for. If you want to avoid the grind, however, they have plenty of options for spending your real money on in-game digital currency. The grind is so slow that landing a minimum wage job would be quicker. The fact that it prevents you from selling your unwanted cars makes it look like it is intentional to trick you into buying in-game currency with real money.
At $70 on the PlayStation 5, the tedious currency task that seems aimed at encouraging you to pull out your wallet to spend more in-game currency for cars – some of which are available for limited turning windows – is truly unacceptable.
President of developer Polyphony Kazunori Yamauchi released a statement initially defending that the grind of high-end cars was to “convey their value and rarity” and made a significant reduction in the rewards of several races that players used to accumulate gold. in-game currency. This is, frankly, an insulting answer that punishes players for trying to find ways around the core issues in your game. Instead of addressing those core issues, they simply eliminated the ways players were finding to make your fun game.
Yamauchi has since promised a hotfix in April that will rework race rewards, but I’m just not sure I’m here to check it out. After all, there’s still plenty of Elden Ring left.