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GT Sport review: the updated verdict on PS4's flagship racer

Published: 16 November 2018

► The full, updated Gran Turismo Sport review
► Everything as it stands
► And this review will be updated 

Gamers have waited years for this, but it’s finally here – GT Sport on the next-gen PlayStation 4. This is Sony’s flagship racing game, on its most up to date console – and in 2018 it’s one of the best racing games you can buy. However, it didn’t start out like that; although the graphics were class-leading, the car and track list left much to be desired. And when combined with limited single-player opportunities, GT Sport felt like a lightweight, online focused-racer.

Fast forward over a year, and a monthly stream of updates has injected some much needed content into what was always a very enticing framework. GT Sport finally has the cars, the tracks and the offline races to keep you coming back – and now combines it with the most robust online racing experience… well, ever.

So, what’s GT Sport actually like to play in 2018? In this review will skip past all the gremlins and shortfalls of the day one release, and just look at how Gran Turismo Sport plays now – as after all, that’s how you’ll be buying it, right? With that in mind, start your engines for our fully updated Gran Turismo Sport review. 

 | Read our best racing games in 2018 round-up here

GT Sport on PS4: the graphics

Choose any track, pick any car, and the first thing you’ll notice is just how good this game looks. On a normal PS4, graphics are smooth and pinsharp, and lightning is by far the most realistic we’ve seen on a console – save Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One X. What’s more, the way cars move into focus and the way the in-game camera uses depth-of-field, really helps everything look incredibly real. And if you’re fortunate enough to have both a 4K and HDR-capable PS4 Pro and TV, things get even better.

GT Sport is arguably a killer app for HDR, technology which essentially allows for brighter points on the screen – and therefore a wider range of brightness. It sounds rather monotonous here, but in practice HDR tech allows headlights and glowing disc-brakes to ping out of the screen, sun glare to almost get uncomfortable, and the game to leap almost out the TV. It’s most spectacular when doing night races, and it’s a feature that remains impressive even a year down the line.

 | Read our best racing games in 2018 round-up here

It's all about the little things with GT Sport, though; looking to the rear when you're in cockpit view forces you to look you through the rear window, sparks fly off the undersides of GT3 and GT4 cars when they skip over rumble strips, and bright headlights from cars behind beam through your cockpit during night races. Having watched endless hours of N24 footage, the latter really adds to the immersion.

GT Sport Nurburgring Mercedes

Even things like the indicators are weirdly fascinating to look at. They're obviously in the game for hazard lights during pit manoeuvres, but GT Sport has even loaded in the scrolling indicators on an Audi TT, for example, and programmed the interior icons to light up, too.

VR modes are available if you’ve got a PSVR headset, and although impressive in their way, they’re not as pinsharp as the rest of the game and pretty limited too. VR on GT Sport isa tech showcase, not a separate selling point.

GT Sport on PS4: the sound

Neither as guttural as Assetto Corsa, nor as raw as Project Cars 2 – and certainly not as complete as Forza Motorsport 7, the sound in GT Sport is still significantly better than what we’ve heard in previous Gran Turismo games. Cars don’t sound like vacuum-cleaners now, and most feature a rich, distinct character that sets them apart from the rest. Take Porsche’s screaming 911 RSR for instance; it may not wail like it does in real life, but it gives out a pleasing metallic roar that’s worth cranking your soundbar up for.

GT Sport rally

GT Sport on PS4: cars and tracks

This is one area where GT Sport is remarkably different in 2018 to the game we started with. Months of updates mean we now have a much better mixture of classic cars, concepts, racing cars and even Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 F1 car. As before, the cars are organised in groups, topping out at ridiculous F1-level Gr.X racers but also featuring some interesting classes such as Gr.2, which essentially consists of new and old SuperGT cars. They’re faster than GT3 or touring cars, and just below LMP2 performance – and certainly worth checking out…

It’s unlikely GT Sport will ever get to the hundreds of cars on offer we used to see in the original games, but it’s finally covering the right bases, and doing it so well.

GT Sport on PS4: the handling

If you’re expecting an exacting, precise sim racer like Assetto Corsa or Project Cars 2, you’re going to be a little disappointed – and if you’re after something like Burnout or Ridge Racer, it’s worth looking elsewhere. GT Sport sits somewhere toward the sim racer spectrum, and fiddling with settings such as assists and tyre wear can make it feel more or less demanding depending on your preference.

 | Read our best racing games in 2018 round-up here

Get a powerful car, take traction control off, throw on some hard-compound racing tyres and take yourself to a cold track, and GT Sport is up there in terms of difficulty. When using everything from road cars to faster Gr.3 and Gr.2 cars, you’ll need to think very carefully about when to put the power down, and racing on used tyres just heightens the tension. In fact, GT Sport continues to introduce new tyre models, even a year after release, so the behaviour of cars on used tyres is only getting better.

GT Sport speedway

It’s not impossible to play though; take too many, big liberties and you’ll probably end up facing the wrong way, but take a few smaller ones and you’ll just have some hairy moments.

Of course, if you’re just after pure speed, or don’t fancy battling your wits against the limits of grip, there’s still traction control available on every car, and it makes the game much easier overall.

GT Sport on PS4: offline, single player

GT Sport was seriously lacking offline on release day, and felt more like a Prologue game than the full-monty, but things have got much better since then. In addition to the license tests, circuit challenges and driving challenges, GT Sport now has a good mixture of endurance races, and other series based championships. If you’ve played Gran Turismo before, you’ll know what to expect here – it’s just surprising it’s taken this long to get to this stage.

If you’d rather do your own thing, the game lets you set up time trials, and you can also make a custom race too, so you can earn prize money will practicing your lines – well, it’s one way to rack up those credits, isn’t it?

One slightly disappointing thing though. Despite sponsoring endurance races, and showing off amazing lightning – GT Sport’s engine doesn’t currently have the ability to evolve between different times of the day. For example, if you want to do the N24 on PS4, you won’t be able to experience the transition from afternoon, to dusk, nightfall and back again. That’s a shame, because each of those times looks stunning in isolation.

 | Read our best racing games in 2018 round-up here

Worse still, if you want to experience a track like Brands Hatch at night, there’s simply nothing you can do about it, right now. And if you want to drive at Le Mans, the darkest you can get up to is currently 22:00, which is a little disappointing given it’s a 24 hour race.

GT Sport on PS4: online multiplayer 

This is where GT Sport seems to streak ahead of the competition, both as an organisation and in-game. For casual players, the online experience is straightforward. You usually have three races to choose from of different class cars, each at a seperate track – and after qualifying you’ll get matchmaked into a grid. It’s exactly like you’d expect from a First Person Shooting game like Destiny or Call of Duty, and it works well here – again, it’s strange it’s taken so long to have something this simple.

Either way, get up and running and races are relatively clean, mainly as a result of the less-broken-than-you’d-think penalty system. Time penalties are added to players for ramming cars off the track and cutting corners, and helpfully you can see these above each opponent. That means you can sometimes decide caution is the better part of valour, and simply hang back if it suits.

GT Sport Nurburgring Alfa

Of course, you’ll get into the odd shunt –  and soon learn that going two-abreast into a chicane on the first lap isn’t advised – but it's possible to settle into a pleasant, and often close racing career.

If you’re into eSports GT Sport is an enticing prospect, and because the series has FIA-certification, you can watch world championships online, with players using exactly the same equipment as you. We’d personally file it either depressing and entertaining, depending how good you thought you were at the game beforehand.

GT Sport on PS4: anything else?

Gran Turismo games have always had a good community feel, be it on forums or elsewhere – but GT Sport finally invites fans inside, and gives the more social and creative amongst us the chance to make a contribution. Players can create liveries, helmet designs and race suit designs which others can use, and it’s actually added another important layer to the game. Fancy a brand new Supra in classic livery? Someone’s made it. Prefer to race in an 911 RSR with the same livery as the the 911 GT1 ‘98? GT Sport has your back.

Throw in the ability to easily see the qualifying times of your friends for online races – and even watch how Lewis Hamilton puts together a lap in the game – and GT Sport finally harnesses the sense of community we’ve always seen in the Gran Turismo community.

GT Sport on PS4: verdict

Gran Turismo is one of the most iconic race series ever made, and while GT Sport isn’t the sprawling magnum opus that GT2 or GT3 was, it’s getting there. Thanks to aggressive monthly updates, GT Sport is slowly filling out into a true next-gen sequel to the games that made the series as important as it is. If you’ve got a PS4, it should be your first port of call.

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds