I remember playing the original Gran Turismo back in the 90s when it came out. It was in Japanese, and I had no idea what it said but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself immensely with the game. It was my first racing simulator and it completely blew my damn mind. Years later, here we are at Gran Turismo 7.

I didn’t think I was capable of having my mind blown again by a simulation racer. God knows many (including Forza) have tried. There was just something missing though…I’m not even sure what it is.

Well, Gran Turismo 7 is now here at take a stab at it.

I’ve been playing it for awhile too, so does it succeed at doing what other racers have failed?

What is Gran Turismo 7?

Gran Turismo is a sim style racing title from developers Polyphony Digital and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It’s the first number Gran Turismo entry in years, with the last being Gran Turismo 6 (2013).

Our copy of the game was provided by the kind folks at Playstation Singapore! Thanks a lot guys!

Here’s the whole review in a nutshell; Racing in Gran Turismo 7 might be the best experience on a console yet. I don’t have a racing wheel, so I’m using the DualSense controller and hot damn, do the triggers make a ton of differences.

The resistance as you depress them is the best simulation of a car’s pedals as you can probably get (without using actual pedals). Forget about feathering the triggers, now you can finally apply as much (or as little) pressure on the pedals as you want.

It’s amazing how the tactile triggers add a ton of immersion and I really wish that the Xbox controller had something similar.

It’s a shame we’ll never get to experience the Forza games like this, at least until Microsoft adds the feature to their controllers.

It’s not marketing hyperbole when they said that you can tell the difference between cars with the triggers. It’s actually true!

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your view), Gran Turismo 7 is a purist racing game. The ability to rewind (a feature most racing games nowadays adopt) is nowhere in sight. If you mess up, there’s no way to redo. It adds an element of finality to each race, but on the flip side means you’ll be resetting a ton if you slip up.

While past games have been relatively open ended, there’s now a sense of progression tied to the game in the form of Menu Books you can get from the Gran Turismo Cafe in-game.

These books have challenges tied to them, and fulfilling them nets you rewards. Finish one book and there’s another waiting for you. I particularly love that the challenges involving cars, as the books tell you which races might award you the car by winning.

Completing Menu Books nets you varying prizes, though most of them are lottery tickets. Use one and you get a randomized spin with multiple prizes, including credits, a car and sometimes a custom part. Problem is I think the percentage for winning is screwed up because I will almost always get the worst prize (2000 credits).

I’ve gotten about 20 tickets as of this writing and won the worst prize for the majority of them. I won a car once, parts twice and 10K credits 3 times.

The rest? The lowest amount of credits for that ticket rank. That’s crap!

If you’ve always felt the series was lacking a hook to keep you playing, the Menu Books might just be the thing for you. The drawback is that the Menu Books are forced upon you. Many of the features of the game are locked until you progress and complete quite a number of Menu Books. Gone is the freedom of choice from past games, replaced by solid progression.

Completion of a Menu Book is a worthy goal but it’s the background info that the game gives you as a reward (on top of the unlockables) that’s the icing on the cake. If nothing else, that’s the true gem of Gran Turismo 7. It is much more than just a racing game. It’s like a racing museum.

The game’s overflowing with secondary info that you can read up and gorge yourself on. From how to take good car pictures, to manufacturer histories and museums! No other game goes to such lengths to represent the entirety of motorsport!

I found myself enjoying the trivia and just absorbing the rich history of the various vehicles and manufacturers. It’s truly eye opening!

The famed License Tests are back for Gran Turismo 7 and I can’t tell you how much I missed them. To me, they’re were the signature feature of the series. Mastering them made me feel as if I could go right out and drive a car with the knowledge I gained. Hell, that’s probably true with the true-to-life handling of the cars in the game.

The License Tests teach you the basics of driving, starting from the beginning stuff, all the way to the advanced mechanics. You’ll start off trying to nab the National B license, and progressing to National A, International B, International A and finally, the Super License. You have to go through each license test progressively, so there’s no way to jump from B to Super.

With 10 tests per license category, that’s a LOT of tests to go through so be prepared to set aside a chunk of your racing time for them.

Unlike past games, the loads in the tests are near instant. You pick a test and almost immediately, you’re on the track with the timer counting down. It’s the same if you’re thinking of redoing the test. Just press the Retry button and poof! You’re back at the beginning with the timer ticking.

With years of familiarity with the loads of past License Tests, this is the ONE thing I’ve always wished for. From the 90s, all the way to Gran Turismo 6…Finally, it’s made a reality in Gran Turismo 7.

While I love the return of the tests, there are a few things I think the developers could’ve done better. One of them is the incentive for the medals.

Right now, you only get a car prize for getting all bronzes or all golds on the tests. What if you get all silvers? You get jack shit that’s what.

It’s a glaring omission and really discourages you from pursuing a silver result because there’s really no point. Sure, you get extra money but since you can already get those elsewhere, it’s the lack of a car bonus that hurts.

It’s the same thing with the Missions too. These are pre-set scenarios that give you a car and have you do selected tasks (like overtaking and finishing). These too follow the whacked out thinking that silvers don’t get a gift car.

Like I said, it’s stupid.

Another thing I would’ve liked changed is the racing line.

If you turn on braking assist AND the racing line, the braking section will (which is a slab of red on the track) make the racing line hard to see. Integrating the braking part into the racing line itself (like in Forza) with different colors would’ve easily solved this issue.

I wonder why that wasn’t implemented in the first place?

It’s really weird the racing line doesn’t integrate braking sections. Hell, it doesn’t even indicate where you should be accelerating. I’m no racing maven so I’d like some heads-up now and then.

With all the changes made to Gran Turismo 7, I’m actually disappointed there’s no equivalent of the ForzaVista mode from the Forza games. In that mode, you’re basically given a chance to go up close with the cars in your garage, from playing with the buttons in them, to looking under the hood.

In Gran Turismo 7, all you get are preset camera angles to show off your car and tech specs. Yawn.

The Garage also has a mode called Scapes Movies, where your selected car is superimposed into images of real world locations.

There are a ton of locations you can use (sorted by country) but it seems as if the people behind the game hate Singapore for some reason. Locations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are included, but our notable vistas like the Esplanade or Marina Bay Sands apparently aren’t good enough for the game.

Due to the fact that these are images and not in-game, there’s a weird effect where the photorealistic cars look cartoony against the backgrounds. Sort of like the effect of having pre-rendered backgrounds with polygonal character models in games like Resident Evil or Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation.

I’m not saying the cars are bad looking (they’re some of the best I’ve ever seen) but the images chosen don’t really meld well with the vehicle models, due to the lighting and shadows. While the cars have ray traced shadows and lights, the ones in the images are static and your brain can easily see the difference.

The stunning car visuals are only held back by one thing; the lack of realistic damage modelling. Ram into a wall, T-bone another car or smash into the rear of a vehicle…doesn’t matter what you do, your car will still come out of it looking like it’s fresh from the showroom. I thought it was an option you can turn on but nope, it wasn’t.

The only change that can happen to a car is that it gets dirty, its oil needs changing, the engine needs an overhaul or to restore body rigidity. Then you’ll need to head on over to GT Auto to do maintenance. It’s ironic that minute details like these are in-game but damage modelling isn’t.

To be fair, this has been the case with past games but with the series always striving to be more and more realistic, leaving out car damage seems like a weird design choice considering rival series Forza has it.

I prefer playing on the highest fidelity settings and even then, the game’s frame rate is blazingly fast, with seemingly no hit to the visuals. I love the tracks (especially the Japanese highway…which reminds me of Tokyo Xtreme Racer on the Dreamcast) and also how the time of day can change as you play. That’s pretty awesome, as you can start a race as the sun rises and end with streetlights and lit buildings.

Gran Turismo 7 is a visual tour de force and one that is unabashed about it. It revels in it…and for good reason. No other racer (save the Forza series) can come close to how it looks and plays.

The Bottom Line.

Gran Turismo 7 is the best in the series yet and hands-down the best racing game on the Playstation. Is it the best racing game on console?

Nope, but it does come close.

Despite all the game has going for it, the lack of realistic damage modelling for the cars kills its chances. For a game billed to be the greatest thing in racing simulation, missing out on a crucial feature is a huge deal.

If you can overlook that though, you’ll find that the entry is near perfect.


Near perfection but only minor car damage and some other hitches hold it back.

The Good.

  • Usage of the Playstation 5 controller’s triggers.
  • Car models.
  • The sound effects.
  • Loads of customization options.
  • Real time weather and time of day changes.
  • Near instant loads.
  • License Tests!
  • Insane amount of background info on everything; cars, manufacturers…even photo taking!

The Bad.

  • Only minor damage shown.
  • Grinding for cash.
  • Menus force you to play the game how the devs want you to play.
  • No way to view cars up close.
  • Weird incentive system that ignores Silver.
  • Racing line is unintuitive.
  • No Rewind ability.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.