The great paradox at the heart of Gran Turismo 7 is that it’s a racing game that wants you to slow down. “Let’s go back to the cafe,” the game politely suggests when you’ve completed a menu book (which in itself is a rarity when so many modern games give instructions that often feel more like demands), and says that you’ll want to accept that offer. Instead of going from one event to another, being bombarded by possible distractions, you are given the space to pause and reflect before moving on to what comes next.
It’s a smart move in a number of ways, but particularly as it ensures that those new to the series (or even racing sims in general) never feel overwhelmed. While many games simply present a smorgasbord of options and invite players to choose their way through them, Gran Turismo 7 takes players by the hand, gradually introducing modes and features. If you’re not in the mood for a lesson in the Mustang-Camaro rivalry, Luca’s briefing shots are text-based rather than voiced, and can be easily sped up with a few taps of the Cross button. And, once a few more areas have opened up on the world map and you’re ready to stray off the critical path, a yellow compass icon will let you know where to go next when you’re ready to return. Does not flicker or make noise; there are no intrusive popups to suggest you should be doing something different somewhere else. Instead, this virtual marker just sits there silently.
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On the track, Gran Turismo 7 continues to fly in the face of modern design trends. Every race starts you at the back of the grid and asks you to work your way to the front; even in championship events, finishing first in the opening race doesn’t put you at the head of the pack for the next one. Brake indicators and a racing line are enabled by default on the standard difficulty setting, but instead of combining the two, it keeps them completely separate: the thick red lines on the track gradually fade when you go down to the right speed to take a curve. , while the yellow line is a simple and invariable accessory.
It’s a useful way of encouraging you to remove stabilizers gradually rather than all at once, and you’ll actually benefit from doing so. Both the steering and brake assists are pronounced enough that they don’t really give you a competitive advantage but allow you to acclimate to a new vehicle or track without spinning or going off the road. During one of the license tests you are gently discouraged from keeping the autobrake engaged, and taking it off makes an immediate difference, allowing you to brake later and giving you a much better chance of beating those gold trophy times.
While it never says so explicitly, the goal is clearly to reduce your dependency on these features. Similarly, the License Tests constantly help refine your running technique through short drills: a typical set might have you negotiating a shallow turn, then a tighter one, then two in a short amount of time, and finally a stretch of track longest that combines several. Similarly, the pre-race circuit experience breaks a course into individual sections, encouraging you to master each one before tackling a full lap against the clock. It’s also worth mentioning that the PS5’s SSD helps in this regard: fast restarts encourage him to replay trials and missions rather than continuing as soon as he gets bronze.
All of which makes Gran Turismo 7’s always-online requirement especially disappointing. In a sim that’s accessible to the core, it feels like an obvious misstep, a rare example of conformity in a game that otherwise seems willing to defy convention. And most notoriously of all, it ensures that Luca’s cafe is temporarily closed in case the servers (or his internet connection) fail, and that just won’t work at all.
This feature first appeared in issue 370 of Edge Magazine. For more great articles like this, check out all the Edge subscription deals at Direct Magazines.