Gran Turismo 7 VR Review: The perfect lap for PSVR 2
Gran Turismo 7 takes the racing experience to a new level in VR: I'm on the road again.
The last Gran Turismo I played was Part 5 on the venerable Playstation 3. At the time, I was sitting on the second floor of an old house in a small town near Dresden, with a tarred flat roof directly above me. This is significant because in midsummer, you could expect two hobbits to throw a ring through the window at any moment.
In this furnace, I tried to squeeze hundredths of a second out of every lap - for hours, as sweat ran down my monitor-bleached skin.
Blissful times. Then there were kids (love you!) and independence (Hush!). No more time for hour-long racing. This changes again.
Gran Turismo 7 VR Review in a nutshell
I'm excluding the 2D menu and clicking through a thousand info and reward screens - you have to get through that. But when the race starts and I sit behind the wheel and feel the vibration of the engine through my PS5 controller or G29 steering wheel, gasoline rushes through my veins - unlike in real life.
Gran Turismo 7 looks so good: the lights, the racetracks, the cars, the instruments. Controls are also excellent, especially using a steering wheel. I've rarely had so much fun racing, and I would never play a Gran Turismo any other way. It has simply become great.
You should play Gran Turismo 7 VR if you …
- really want to race cars,
- enjoy excellent graphics,
- see fantastic lighting and weather conditions on the racetracks,
- feel the difference of your tuning much more directly,
- start perfect overtaking maneuvers, and
- just want to be inside the action, not just in front of it.
You should rather not play Gran Turismo 7 VR if you …
- expect the perfect racing simulation or
- the sometimes quite intense car shaking makes you sick.
What is it about?
Car racing. The famous Gran Turismo has been built from the ground up for PSVR 2 for the first time - well, the racing at least. I get the complete, familiar and very comprehensive package of licensed races, championships, rewards and more. 34 tracks, 97 track variations and more than 440 cars are waiting to be experienced.
Via so-called menu books (quests) I unlock new cars, tracks and modes, upgrade my vehicles in the workshop to racing machines and chase record after record with them.
Gran Turismo 7 VR - What does it look like?
For VR players, the magic begins at the start of the race: First I see my car on a huge 2D screen, then the image changes, and I'm inside. Each car is so detailed that it would be a pleasure to take a closer look - but you'd better do that in VR mode in the garage. Because now the lights turn green, and you're on full throttle.
Day or night, the free view outside does not disappoint. Circuits and environments look great, the lighting is fantastic, and the sun sometimes dazzles me through the rearview mirrors. The dynamic weather system not only makes a difference in terms of gameplay: When raindrops hit the windshield with increasing speed, the immersion behind the wipers is just perfect.
I have also played other racing games in VR, like Project Cars 2 and 3, which are really good looking games for PC VR, and the gameplay experience in VR is great there as well. Gran Turismo still takes the crown because the overall experience is just more vivid, more real, more immersive. Along with the motivating gameplay, that's what keeps me in the driver's seat.
How does it play?
It is awesome with the PS5 controller, just because of the fine force feedback on things like acceleration. But it's really great with a steering wheel. I plugged in a Logitech G29 (Amazon US) and the driving experience is instantly so much better than with a controller.
However, this review does not focus on accessories. Studio Polyphony shows hardly any weaknesses here. Accelerating, braking, drifting, sliding, crashing - everything feels very realistic in VR. A quick glance into the side or rearview mirror to slow down or block an approaching opponent - the natural feel of movement is unmatched.
The condition of the circuits are simulated by "screen wobble". Not too much, but noticeable. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might get a little nauseous from time to time. This also differs from car to car and of course depending on the tuning level: A highly tuned Lamborghini just sits on the road like a plank.
As time goes by, I get into a driving flow like I did back in the days on the PS3. I always feel like I can achieve much better lap times if I just learn to brake more accurately and corner more cleanly. So far, so familiar - only it's a lot more direct, a lot more realistic now.
I'm in a virtual race car, and I've just hit the barriers because I completely messed up the corner. I'm shaking inside because my brain is anticipating the impact - this feeling is especially strong when I'm driving with a steering wheel. The whole experience from reality, like braking (not so much the crashes, I've only had someone hit my side once so far), affects my body and I feel like it's pushing me forward. Crazy how brain and body work! By the way, I think this has a lot to do with the VR implementation. I can't remember such a distinct effect on me in Project Cars, for example.
As I approach the same bend next time, I take a quick look at the radar, which is unobtrusively displayed to the right of the steering wheel and brake in time. But I also know that the curve is getting wider, and so I accelerate at the very right moment, barely touching the curbs, because I have a real sense of space for the size of the car. New personal best.
Let's do this again.
Gran Turismo 7 VR review summary: The new evergreen on PSVR 2
Polyphony and Sony have done a fantastic job bringing Gran Turismo 7 to Virtual Reality, delivering a rich, immersive racing experience with stunning visuals and highly detailed cars.
Chasing lap times on the VR racetrack motivates me in a completely different way than playing the game on a "flat screen": There it is the money, the new car, the next upgrade. But on PSVR 2 it is all about the driving experience, the racing itself, the action right there in the driver's seat. I want to get back in the car and hear the engine roar, while my opponents in the rearview mirror quickly become smaller and smaller.
The gimmicks - like the absolute cheating machine called roulette that always delivers the smallest possible prize - pale into insignificance, and I'm finally on the road again. It's exactly how it should be.
Gran Turismo 7 (VR) is available in the Playstation Store.