Can you believe more than eight years have passed since the last full Gran Turismo game? Actually, who am I kidding—fans of the series have become accustomed to lengthy waits between installments. That wait is very nearly over, though, because on Thursday, Gran Turismo 7 arrives for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 consoles.
It’s been a wait filled with some trepidation. Although GT titles were massively overrepresented in my very unscientific ranking of console racing games a while back, some installments of the franchise from Polyphony Digital have not been as good as others—looking at you, GT5. But that was then, and this is now, and there’s an entirely new generation of hardware to show off the series’ trademark dazzling realism.
GT7 shows that Polyphony Digital has not lost its touch. There’s room for improvement—history suggests that updates will happen over time—and there’s no doubt that the game plays better on the hard-to-find PS5 than the more commonplace PS4. But in trying times, GT7 is the racing game equivalent of comfort food, made from a recipe refined over 25 years but updated for the 4K generation.
25 years young
Although GT6 debuted on the PS3 at the end of 2013, it wasn’t actually the last GT release. Polyphony Digital has gotten into the habit of showcasing its new game engines by releasing “minimally viable games” with relatively few cars and tracks, leading up to a later full game release. In the past, those stripped-down titles often felt like expensive demos. The GT series arrived on the PS4 in 2017 as GT: Sport, a game focused heavily on esports and online multiplayer. GT: Sport got a mixed reception when it was released, but it got better with updates and has remained my go-to if I have free time for a racing fix.
GT7 builds on that game by adding back in all the elements that feel essential to Gran Turismo. The online multiplayer and esports stuff have carried over, but now they’re just a small part of the overall package.
The center of GT7‘s world is the Café, a hub run by a character named Luca. He’s prepared menus for you to work your way through, many of which require you to complete certain races to win specific cars—a trio of French hatchbacks or three different Ford Mustangs, for example.
Once you finish each of the menus, you’ll be treated to a little montage and some exposition about why your cars are important. When Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi briefed us on the game several weeks ago, he said that his goal for the game is “exciting people to the allure of cars,” and this is one way GT7 goes about that. In addition to Luca, several other NPCs are ready and waiting in the Café with car-trivia demo scenes.
Arrayed around the Café are various other locations,…