Initial Release: 17 October 2017
Excellent handling and pretty graphics can’t save this game from being any more than a carbon-fibre plated, lead balloon.
2017 has been a great year for racing games. Project Cars 2 released with a huge line-up of quality cars and content and Forza Horizon 7 pushed the limit to what a game could look like by making full use of the Xbox One X. When judged to these standards, GT Sport just simply falls short, offering much less bang for your buck and any real campaign. Excellent handling and pretty graphics can’t save this game from being any more than a carbon-fibre plated, lead balloon.
Let’s start off with what GT Sport does right. In terms of presentation, menus and style direction, it is unmatched. There’s a whole lot of heart too with the game starting off with a history of automobiles cinematic which shows just how far we’ve come. The next logical step from here is into the practice trials which, as usual are challenging, rewarding and addictive. There’s a lot of content here in particular, with hours and hours of challenge on offer. Problem is, there’s only so many time trials, handling mini-games and incremental self-improvement a guy can take before he simply wants to race.
It’s here where the game’s shortfalls become hopelessly apparent. GT Sport does away with any kind of campaign mode entirely, instead hedging all of its bets on online play. This omission is baffling to say the least and sticks out as the game’s most swollen of sore thumbs. The lack of content doesn’t stop there though as the game does away with the more everyday cars, classics and instead focuses on highly specialised driving-machines. This of course speaks to the game’s overall focus on racing but does feel a little slim compared to other offerings this year.
For the first time in the series, GT Sport comes with a VR mode packed in. The mode is limited but fun nonetheless. While in your headset you can only race against one other opponent which can get dull pretty quickly. The VR visuals are some of the strongest I’ve seen on the platform and the game does a great job of making you really feel like you’re sat in the car. I wouldn’t recommend GT Sport to someone looking for a VR driving experience as there are other, cheaper and more fleshed out experiences on the market.
In terms of sheer handling, the game really shines. The cars genuinely feel real and have a palpable weight to them which you can really feel while shifting through corners. The audio too, is very authentic indeed which is a vast improvement on previous titles in the series.
The online mode is a real surprise too, definitely going some way to make up for the lack of campaign.It definitely felt realer and fairer than other racers I’ve played. Each race always seemed winnable with the outcome determined by pure skill alone. I suppose this is the natural progression of the single player content in GT Sport. The hours of grinding to become a better driver really pays off the second you venture out online. Despite being bare-bones, I can respect the pinpoint focus of this entry in the series. The game is all about being better, through corners, through breaking, through racing.
Polyphony Digital have been pretty open about the fact that there is more coming down the line but ultimately, with the game being so thin, this promise only adds to the frustration. The developers clearly have more cars, more tracks lying around, so why not include them in the full game and make it feel more worth its $60 price tag?
While I can appreciate that the series is taking a new direction I believe that the execution just feels off. With the genuinely great racing games we’ve had over the last few years, you simply have to be better to stand-out. That’s before we even mention just how heated the debate over price point versus content has gotten recently.
Of course, for the die-hard GT fans, this will probably be just fine. The driving is still world class and the series’ signature style still intact so maybe this just marks a shift in the series becoming more of a niche title. This is a shame though as for many years the series managed to straddle the line between being a deep racing sim and more of a fun driving experience. We will have to wait and see if the game gains the cult following I think that it has a good chance of attracting, until then GT Sport just feels like too little for too much money.
Verdict – 6 Out of 10
We were provided a review copy of the game for review purposes by Sony