We love racing cars. But we can’t afford to actually race actual cars. So we go for the next best thing: racing simulators.
Recently we’ve been playing Gran Turismo Sport, supposedly the racing sim to end all racing sims. Developed in partnership with the FIA, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, GT Sport aims to be as close as possible to IRL racing. The game focuses mainly on driver vs driver online bouts, pitting players against each other using skill and sportsmanship rankings to achieve fair yet exciting races.
It’s even said that if a player advances through driving school, completes all the in-game challenges, and becomes a top grade racer online, that they will receive a real-world racing license endorsed by the FIA.
What Makes GT Sport Different?
Embarking on this FIA alliance was a huge task for the developers that ultimately cancelled GT 7 in favour of the new title GT Sport. Focusing on online only was a big change, and a lot of the fans of the existing series were unhappy when the title was released.
In order to win the fans back, a single player campaign was patched in that allowed players to race against AI competitors in the familiar cup series. Starting as an amateur and ending at the pinnacle of motorsport.
All of the effort that has been put into the game has definitely paid off. The driving mechanics and graphics are spectacular. There are times when it’s genuinely impossible to tell the game apart from the real world.
With the settings of the most realistic, the game is quite unforgiving and you get the sense that you could really take what you are learning virtually and apply it to real-world race car driving.
It’s like that bit from Snakes on a Plane where Kenan uses his flight simulator prowess to land a 747, but somehow not insane.
The Flaws in GT Sport
We do have a problem with this super realism, however, and that is the difficulty curve, especially taking into account the retroactively added campaign mode. GT Sport doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be; either an esports champion or just a game to have fun with.
The first game mode that we tried was the campaign mode. It was really good at getting us to grips with the racing in GT Sport but we very quickly bored of coming first in every race with no competition. We put this down to only being in the first tier of races and waited for access to the next level.
At driver level 10, the next set of more difficult races and faster cars is unlocked. We chose a Ferrari to race in and literally overtook every other car at least five times each. This wasn’t really fun at all.
Failing to find a way to increase the campaign difficulty and thinking ourselves ready, we went online. We figured the online players would add a bit more difficulty to the game. We were definitely right. We came dead last in our first online race. Moving from one game mode which is forgiving to casual gamers to another where every other racer is trying their absolute best completely destroyed us.
We soon got our act together and started hitting every apex and gear change just at the right time, but this need to do everything perfectly really started to take the fun out of it. If you mess up on one corner, you are not going to win.
We know players are divided on whether this is good or bad. It means the truly best are rewarded for being so but also means everyone else is a loser. With the new addition of campaign mode, however, players that hate losing all the time (like us) can still enjoy what is a huge game.
What Else is There On Offer?
As well as Campaign Mode and online racing Sport Mode, the game features a driving school, challenges, drifting, free races, and car customisation. The tracks provide for a wide variety of racing styles including oval tracks, tight technical tracks, Grad Prix tracks and even dirt tracks. While there is a good number of tracks overall, if you want to stick to only one of these disciplines you will run out of variety very quickly.
It should be noted that the car selection is good, with some great partnerships with well know manufactures. In true GT style, the cars range from everyday road cars to exotic classics to open wheel racers.
The number of cars actually available is a little disappointing at current, however, with only around 150 cars compared to the 1000+ of GT 6. Cars are always being added to the roster though, and we would hope that the number would be around 1000 eventually.
Gran Turismo Sport VR
One of the biggest selling points to us was the new VR mode. Ever since we were kids and the car interiors in our favourite racers were just still images superimposed over the camera, we wanted to look around. We thought it has always been so dumb that the in-car camera angle is always straight ahead.
That’s not how you drive a car!
GT Sport gives you the option with a VR headset to look around while you race. We really thought this would improve our lap times, but it was just too astonishing. We crashed while looking out of the rear window just to see if it was possible.
Virtual Reality mode combined with all the realistic car mechanics and physics that have gone into GT Sport would put competitive esports racing in the same league as the real thing! Unfortunately, it is still in development. VR Mode in GT Sport only lets to drive around a track with one other car. The game itself calls it a “tour” rather than a race.
Even though it isn’t quite at the stage we want it to be; it’s still super fun. You actually feel like you are hooning round your favourite tracks in the driver’s seat. It really comes into its own once you start getting your car sideways, Tokyo Drift style. Head to a dirt track in a rear wheel drive car, and you’ll be looking out of the side windows on every corner.
Our Honest Thoughts on GT Sport
If you want to be a professional racing driver but can’t afford the crazy expensive racing car, then this is the game for you. If you want to perfect your lap time around the Nurburgring, then this is the game for you. If you want some casual driving, this might not be the game for you.