gran turismo sport cover box

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a huge sucker for the Gran Turismo franchise, and I’ve bought and played every single one of them. My discs from GT1 and GT2 are shot to hell, GT3 was a pirated copy on our chipped PS2, GT4 came along with the purchase of my old racing wheel, GT5 is the one I regret buying, and GT6 is the one that is technically the most accurate racer to date. It looks like I’m ready to make a seventh bad decision for my wallet this year with Gran Turismo Sport, and it was fully detailed at a reveal event hosted by Polyphony Digital last night.

First off, there will be a collector’s edition of GT Sport, but Polyphony isn’t saying what’s in there just yet. GT5 had a wonderful collector’s edition that included a sweet wallet, a GT key fob, and other odds and ends including a scale model of the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS. The GT Sport collector’s edition and the base game are up for pre-order in most countries, and both will ship on 15 November 2016. The base game on the PlayStation store is R799 and the Digital Deluxe edition is R899.

gran turismo GT sport screenshots (5)

Being Polyphony’s first title on the PS4, they’ve done away with all of the outdated legacy car models you’ve come to expect on past titles in the franchise, and only added new, high-resolution models into the game. Because GT Sport serves the market that GT Prologue once used to address, it doesn’t have the same amount of cars and tracks that a regular GT game does. There are 137 cars on offer, with a total of 27 track layouts spanning across 19 different locations.

You might be asking yourself why GT Sport is important, and there’s a single reason for its existence. The GT Driving Academy has been growing year on year, drawing in skilled drivers that eventually grow to race in real-life events and even join some professional teams internationally. The value in having a scarily accurate racing simulator means that professional teams looking for new talent don’t have to look only in their home country for new drivers, and GT Academy is a good training and proving ground that offers anyone the opportunity to get into the sport.

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To this end, GT Sport is now the base game for GT Academy hopefuls to compete in, and it’s also the first in the series that has the stamp of approval from the FIA international racing body. There will be FIA-sponsored events and competitions, and players can now compete for their home teams and to represent their country in an FIA World Championship tournament hosted within GT Sport. In addition, there are manufacturer events for the various car brands that are also FIA partners, and that means that companies like Nissan and Chevrolet are going to be watching these events to find new test drivers.

This is probably the biggest change to the series, and it legitimises the hard work that Polyphony and GT Academy has been doing to give young drivers the chance to race. These events are just as valid as the real-life homologated events run by the FIA internationally, and it’s the first Esports event that has real-world implications for the people participating in it to graduate to the real thing. No-one who wins a FIFA tournament, or someone particularly skilled in EA Sports UFC has ever used success in either of these disciplines to find success in the real-life sports represented by these games.

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GT Sport is built on a new engine that derives some inspiration from the one driving Gran Turismo 6, and it looks fantastic. There’s a great use of tesselation for the car models and although I don’t have the numbers on me, there’s at least twice the number of polygons making up these models compared to the same cars in GT6. The backgrounds are also looking a lot better, and the promotional screenshots clearly show that Polyphony has implemented global illumination in its engine, which makes the lighting more realistic.

The shadows alone make me giddy. This game looks so good.

If you watched the trailer embedded above, your mind is probably also blown right now with how much extra stuff that’s been added. There’s a much improved photography mode where you have complete control over the placement and angle of the cars in the frame, and the backgrounds are very slick and detailed. Car photography had a big emphasis in GT6, and GT Sport raises the bar even higher.

There’s also a livery editor for the first time in the game’s history! Harkening back to the liveries you could buy and apply in GT2, GT Sport‘s livery editor offers you complete control over the car’s visuals, and you can slap literally anything you want on to your cars. Flames? Check. Flags? Check. Numbers and manufacturer stickers? Check. The possibilities seem endless with the livery editor, and I hope there’s an option to build and share, perhaps even sell liveries to other players. This was its own economy inside Forza games in the past, and Polyphony would do well to mimic it.

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Gran Turismo Sport launches on 15 November 2016 for PlayStation 4, and you can pre-order the game here on Sony’s PlayStation Store. If you’re looking for a racing wheel to match what’s bound to be a fantastic racing experience, I reviewed the Logitech G29 Driving Force, which was built for GT Sport specifically.

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