Gran Turismo Sport

Virtual racing with real rewardsThere’s a lot of money in eSports these days, which explains why all the big games seem to be pushing the pro gaming angle lately. Anything that can be played to a high level is being played to a high level, with mind-blowing prize pools for the best players to split – everything from Counter-Strike to Rocket League, COD to FIFA and Street Fighter to DOTA 2 has a booming competitive scene. It’s not something that will work for every kind of game, of course (don’t expect a pro Assassin’s Creed scene any time soon…) but you’ll be seeing a greater shift towards the eSports scene in the coming years.But for the PS4 debut of its most successful first-party franchise,  Sony is thinking bigger. GT Sport isn’t targeting the booming digital sports scene, rather the real deal. With two officially-sanctioned FIA tournaments running online once the game launches, the best players will be recognised by the same body that honours the likes of Lewis Hamilton and José María López. There’s no better indicator of just how realistic Gran Turismo is than this – as well as breeding a new  generation of champions with the GT Academy program, GT Sport will cast the net even wider to create actual motorsports superstars out of console players.
This exciting news is all well and good, but there seems to be some confusion as to what GT Sport actually is. Sony’s Jim Ryan has been quoted as clarifying that this isn’t Gran Turismo 7, but also that it’ll be more than the usual Prologue releases that precede mainline entries in the series – it’s been suggested that the game will boast Campaign, Sports, and Arcade modes and PlayStation VR support is also confirmed, but we’re yet to see anything more specific in terms of car counts or content breakdowns.
The implication that it’ll be more substantial than a Prologue release would suggest 100+ cars (which would already be more than the other high-profile racers on PS4 offer) although it’s probably wise not to get your hopes up for the kind of ludicrous vehicle count of the core games. Still, a streamlined garage might not be the worst thing in the world anyway – the divide between premium and standard cars in the last few games has been pretty jarring if we’re honest, and we would rather have a shorter list of fully-featured vehicles than a bloated collection of dodgy old models and duplicate cars.
Still, we won’t have long to wait to get a better idea of what to expect from GT Sport – Sony has confirmed that the game will have a beta starting early next year, meaning we’ll be burning rubber in PlayStation’s flagship racer in just a few short months. With the apparent online focus of the game, it makes sense that Sony would want to start network testing early and since there are set to be amazing prizes and opportunities on the line in the competitive online suite, this aspect of the game is going to have to be absolutely spot-on.
In fact, that’s one of the few areas for genuine concern with GT Sport. Polyphony’s track record means nobody need worry about realism or handling as the team is one of the world’s finest in that regard, while the series has always been a graphical showcase that harnesses the full power of the host console and that’s not going to change any time soon. Aside from online, then, it’s only the solo campaign structure that has question marks hanging over it. We’re pretty much done with the rigmarole of taking a crappy hatchback to the Sunday Cup for hours before we can finally afford a ride we’re not embarrassed of, but would it really be a GT game if not for that slog that really makes you feel like you’ve earned your supercar? There’s got to be a middle ground between that tried and tested format and having a garage of supercars available from the off, so we hope Polyphony can find it. Luke Albigés.

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