Games: Gran Turismo 7 will have petrolheads grinning from gear to gear...
Gran Turismo 7 (PS5)
IT'S hard to believe a quarter of a century has passed since Gran Turismo first hit the virtual tarmac. Kazunori Yamauchi's "Ultimate Driving Simulator" went on to become one of the most successful franchises of all time, with each new PlayStation console getting a double helping – that is until PS4, which didn't host any of the numbered series.
It's been a long wait, then, for Gran Turismo 7 – so has Sony pimped its ride enough to tear gearheads away from rival Forza's bombast?
Your first taste of GT7's open road is typically warm and weird. While it installs, you can indulge in the Music Rally, pootling along in a classic open-top Porsche to the strains of 80s cheese Hooked on Classics, hitting checkpoints before the beats run out. Alan Partridge would approve.
With your PS5 locked 'n' loaded, it's off to GT's central hub, The Cafe, a celebration of all things automotive that tracks player progression as you buy, sell, tune and race your way through 20 odd hours of car culture that spans over 420 cars and 90 tracks, including returning classics such as Deep Forest and Trial Mountain.
Leaning hard into the series' 25-year history, Gran Turismo has never been more accessible in a throwback to its turn-of-the-century heyday as players start in a bargain-bucket compact and grind their way to the top.
A far cry from the hipster festival of Forza Horizon, which hands out new wheels like confetti, GT7 is more stern schoolmarm, forcing players to put in the hours. Pinchpenny payouts and miserly roulette spins make nabbing new rides an event, and with cars fantastically faithful to the real thing, each is a new beast to master.
And how glorious they all look. The cars in the original Gran Turismo were hewn from around 300 polygons – they now involve half a million. Or to put it another way, there's now more detail in your driver's thumb than there was in the entire car back in 1997.
They also sound the part, with the Polyphony team having spent countless oily hours underneath motors to record pitch-perfect engine squeals. The PS5's throbbing controller sells the illusion of every spun wheel and locked brake, while that nippy hard drive is a godsend when rooting through GT's complex menus or repeating its infamous driving licenses.
The online experience is slick and its visuals make the digital jalopies that had us gasping back in '97 look like Duplo bricks, but above all, GT7 is so realistic you'll feel guilty for playing it drunk. Gran Turismo 7 doesn't reinvent the wheel so much as celebrate it in a love letter to combustion that'll have petrolheads grinning from gear to gear.