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Gran Turismo 7 on PS5 promises a richly detailed car-culture ‘paradise’

New options for music, performance tinkering, and informational café missions add a lot of detail

First person driver’s seat view of Gran Turismo 7’s Music Rally mode
The “Music Rally” mode is meant for players to enjoy Gran Turismo 7’s deep soundtrack and the advanced, 3D audio presenting a lifelike world around the cockpit.
Image: Polyphony Digital/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Polyphony Digital is striving to send players to “a paradise that celebrates car culture” with Gran Turismo 7, the studio said Wednesday, and to get there, it’s focusing on small details. A video showcase introducing PlayStation’s latest driving simulator made it clear that developers are digging deep into the PS5’s capabilities to deliver photorealistic visuals and virtuoso performance across a fleet of 400 virtual vehicles.

For example, in Gran Turismo 7, nighttime skies will show the stars in scientifically accurately configurations for the location and time of any given race. Rain will collect and dry variably, depending on the parts of a track where it usually puddles or runs off. Ray-tracing will be supported in one of two graphical performance modes, providing more lifelike shadows, shines, and reflections than ever before.

The advanced haptic feedback of the DualSense controller will communicate the difference in one car’s brake pedal vs. another’s, and transmit the feeling of driving or drifting across different surfaces through players’ hands. And three-dimensional audio engineering will present your car’s engine note rumbling somewhere in front of you, rain drops plunking against the roof overhead, and the sound of another driver dopplering by on the track.

We want to excite people to the allure of cars, even without any prior knowledge, and become aware of just how fun it is to drive, own, or tune [them],” series creator Kazunori Yamauchi told media in a recorded presentation earlier this week. Yamauchi lamented that in the present day, “you won’t find as many people talking about car culture anymore.” Gran Turismo 7, he said, “was produced with an understanding of this new day and age.”

Translation: for all the audiovisual fidelity Polyphony Digital is promising, Yamauchi says Gran Turismo 7 will still be as accessible to those looking for a pick-up-and-drive experience as it is for longtime fans of precision motorsports simulations.

Gran Turismo 7 will have three new features to support these big-tent ambitions. Probably the biggest is the Gran Turismo Café, a mode in which players will be presented with a menu of missions, or assignments, for a particular car. By completing them, they’ll learn more about that vehicle’s development and history. The cars’ original designers will also stop by the Café, Yamauchi said, to provide their own first-hand insight on a given car and what makes it special. The Café comprises 30 “Menu Books,” Yamauchi said, and finishing those assignments will bring Gran Turismo 7’s overall campaign to its conclusion.

For tuners, experimenters, and the casually curious, a new settings feature will help first-timers set up their vehicles to extract the best performance, according to the track, weather conditions, and the player’s driving style and strengths. Players will be able to tinker with suspension geometry, gearing, and other metrics, then analyze their expected performance gain or loss in real time. The goal, Yamauchi said, is to simulate what is usually a technically intimidating but very necessary process, then present it in an understandable way, so players know why they’re making these adjustments, and how they affect the car.

“This is like having a mini-game inside this settings screen, and is one of my favorite screens out of the various features in GT7,” Yamauchi said. “I think the routine of trying out different settings and saving them to the setting sheet, or actually taking the car out on the track to test the result will probably be one of the most enjoyable ways to play GT7.”

GT7 world map showing Japan and the courses available there
The World Map returns to Gran Turismo 7; from it, players may access 34 different tracks with a combined 90 different layouts
Image: Polyphony Digital/Sony Interactive Entertainment

And then there’s a casual-drive mode called Music Rally, which is meant to be a showcase for a soundtrack comprising more than 300 songs by 75 different artists. Music Rally is essentially a time-attack mode, although the goal is not to drive as fast as possible. Players are given a certain number of “beats” to complete in a segment of the course, which are replenished by passing through course markers. The goal is to reach the end of the song. Yamauchi said Music Rally is meant to highlight Gran Turismo 7’s soundtrack without silencing the rest of the game audio, as in previous games, players had to choose one or the other for their drives.

Gran Turismo 7’s course list will include 34 different tracks, both real-world and fictional, and more than 90 different layouts in all. The vehicle fleet will be acquired through one of three in-game dealerships — a standard “Brand Central” showroom, a budget-minded used-car lot, and the luxe Legendary Car Dealer, where the most exotic rides can be found. All of this will be accessed from a world map, which returns to the series and enhances the sandbox atmosphere Polyphony Digital is trying to deliver in the latest game.

Gran Turismo 7 launches March 4, 2022 on PlayStation 5.