I’ve had a copy of Gran Turismo Sport for several days now, but sadly the online servers haven’t been online at all. Thankfully, I’ve been able to try a variety of game modes that aren’t normally available offline and have been able to save my progress (which you also can’t do without the servers being active). If you’re interested in the game’s single-player or virtual reality modes then you’ll get the full 411 on what to expect.
The first thing players will want to do is go into the game’s Driving School. Even if you’re an experienced digital driver, you’ll still want to go to class to get several cars and valuable in-game currency as a reward for going through its tutorial lessons. These missions start off extremely simple (the first one is cleared by literally pressing the accelerator), but they quickly become more complex as players have to make hairpin turns and watch out for oversteering. It’s a great way for players to really appreciate how much depth there is to GT Sport‘s driving, which is just as satisfying as it has always been. As far as gameplay goes, GT Sport plays just as well as its best competitors. Additionally, there’s a separate mode that allows players to learn each course and their individual sections. If you want to truly master driving then you’ll find all the tools you need at your disposal.
When I finished the driving school, I wasn’t compelled to replay a bunch of tutorials in order to better my times (you can get gold medals and so on depending on how you perform). That meant I went into its Mission Challenge mode, which is the closest thing there is to a Gran Turismo Sport career mode. Anyone expecting a lengthy in-depth career mode like Forza Motorsport or Project CARS 2 will be heavily disappointed, as it’s a pretty stripped down series of 64 events. Many of the early ones aren’t even races, but simple challenges like trying to knock over some pylons or reaching a certain speed. Eventually, things get more intense (for example, you’ll have to start pitting later on while doing longer races), but it’s a really underwhelming career mode with little pizazz in terms of presentation. If you’re one to be compelled by needing to get gold medals then you’ll find some reasons to come back to it, but even then it’s not a lengthy affair.
Finally, there’s an Arcade mode which is probably where solo players will spend most of their time since the campaign offerings are so underwhelming. It’s here where players can set up single races, time and drift trials, custom races, and do split-screen multiplayer. That may seem like a lot of options, but not being able to do something as simple as creating a set of races in order to do a championship series is a real bummer. Even Mario Kart 8 has more compelling solo content than GT Sport, and Sony should be doing better than that in 2017.
Rather than having the full game playable in virtual reality, the GT Sport VR experience is split into two separate modes: VR Driving and VR Showroom. I’ll start with the latter, which is really an awfully tacked-on mode that allows the player to walk around the beautiful cars. Driveclub VR had a similar mode, but this is even more limited as players can’t get inside the cars of their dreams in VR. It’s way too limited to be of any value, and it’s really too bad since I enjoyed the same gimmickry in Driveclub.
Thankfully, the VR Driving makes up for the other mode being a disappointment. Playing Gran Turismo Sport in virtual reality feels amazing. Actually feeling like you’re inside these top-notch vehicles is an awesome accomplishment, and it adds a lot of strategy in having to actually watch your mirrors while driving. It really adds so much to the experience, and while there’s a definite knock in resolution, it looks much better than Driveclub VR. Sadly, the mode is super bare bones (several options such as certain time conditions can’t be picked), and you can only race against one other car on the tracks. It makes an incredible first impression, and then I was left wondering why I booted up the mode since there wasn’t much to actually do in it.
Gran Turismo Sport could’ve easily had been one of PlayStation VR’s killer apps. The racing feels that good while wearing the headset, and unfortunately with the way it’s packaged, it’s turned into a throwaway mode that you’ll occasionally use or show friends, but that’s it. There’s no real replayability, no proper structure, and nothing to keep players from coming back. As far as entertainment goes, it’s an absolute tragedy that it’s been undersold rather than been fleshed out further.
Left Wanting More
I’ve got to say that I’m left pretty underwhelmed by Gran Turismo Sport so far. The single-player content has been as dull and sterile as the game’s presentation. None of the modes have grabbed me, and as Street Fighter V previously showed when it launched, it doesn’t matter how good the gameplay is if it isn’t offered up in a compelling manner. As someone who mainly comes to racing games to play solo, I’m left wanting a lot more out of GT Sport. It’s lacking so far behind of its contemporaries in terms of solo content.
There is one mode that really blew me away, and that’s the museum hidden within the game’s Brand Central mode, which is also where players buy cars. While not every brand of vehicle has been given the full treatment, companies like Ferrari and Ford have had their history recapped in a handy slideshow with a ton of pictures and information. I spent over 10 minutes reading about how Ferrari evolved over the years, and it was truly fascinating. It’s great getting to learn more about these vehicles, and the people behind them. Additionally, a bunch of world events are also seen on a separate timeline, that way players can get a full view of what the world was like while these vehicle milestones occurred. It’s definitely one of the best additions to GT Sport, and I wish it was fleshed out to include all of the brands, even if not all of them have histories as deep as the aforementioned manufacturers.
All that said, I can’t understate how great the racing actually feels. I’ve not yet mastered Gran Turismo‘s many cars and tracks, but I’ve certainly gotten better over the hours I’ve poured into the racing sim. I’m excited to go online, and I’m hopeful that the multiplayer will be more fully featured. If it is, then GT Sport might still wind up being great rather than a whole lot of missed potential.
Gran Turismo Sport career mode review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.