GT Sport: update brings Tokyo in the wet

Published: 26 September 2019

► Full, updated Gran Turismo Sport review
► Rigorously tested: everything as it stands!
► This review is constantly updated 

GT Sport is a very different game now to the one we first saw way back in 2017 – and it’s just had one of its largest changes yet. Every month we’ve seen new races, cars and tracks added for free  – but now we've got wet weather, too. First, it arrived in the Red Bull Ring, and now Polyphony Digital has summoned the clouds over Tokyo, too. 

Pictures from this month;s update show glistening tarmac lit up by streetlights and headlights, on what could be one of the best looking tracks in the game. Our only worry? The Tokyo track could already turn into a pinball-farce at the best of times – the impact of a greasy, low-grip surface could be catastrophic.

We've not driven the wet Tokyo track in anger yet, but we have sampled wet conditions at the Red Bull Ring. Keep reading for our impressions of that. 

GT Sport: driving in the wet

The Red Bull Ring isn't one of our favourite tracks in GT Sport, so much so, we've never really learnt it before – but right now it's the only racing track with wet weather conditions. We selected a Gr.3 Porsche 911 RSR for our moist time trial – and on the whole, wet weather mode is a worthy addition to Gran Turismo Sport.

Presenstation-wise, it looks as good as you'd expect from the Polyphony Digital team: kerbs glisten, headlights reveal puddles just waiting to catch you out, and a dank mist hangs over the track. When combined with the game's already impressive graphics, you can feel almost feel the sweaty, clammy feel of cheap waterproof poncho.

In-car, the graphics are less impressive: the sound is still realistic, but raindrops don't move over the windscreen you'd expect, which is a shame. Are we being picky? Yes. But is this GT Sport? Also, yes. 

However, the most important thing here is how it feels to drive in the wet, and we're pleased to say it's an enjoyable experience. On inters – which were probably the wrong tyre – our Porsche didn't always comply: too much throttle saw the back try to overtake the front, while slower corners with less downforce had even more understeer than expected. At slow but optimistic speeds, the RSR simply didn't turn.

Just tip-toeing around is fun, but after more track time it's possible to exploit the conditions more. Short-shifting will see the back of the car better behaved, while backing the car in while braking and turning is also something you can sometimes get away with.

Change to the correct tyres however, and driving in the wet is rather uneventful. The car stays planted to the racing line, and it's only when you're far too ambitious in braking zones or far to heavy on the throttle that you get punished. 

We've driven quite a few laps now, and we've seen no risk from clambering on kerbs or white lines, and go-karting lines don't seem to have a benefit either... 

These are just our first impressions, now it's time to go and put some more laps in. 

GT Sport: the constantly updated CAR review

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 2019 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-racing game.

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 2019? In this review we'll 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 2019 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 pin-sharp, and lighting 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 realistic. 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 pixels on the screen – and therefore a wider range of brightness. It sounds rather monotonous when written down, 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 of 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 2019 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 glance through the back 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 pin-sharp as the rest of the game and pretty limited too. VR on GT Sport is a 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 any more, 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 20198 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 Super GT 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 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 2019 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. It's a lot of fun, trust us.

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 licence 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 while practising 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 lighting – 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 and driving games in 2019 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 10pm, 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 under depressing or 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 world.

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 today. If you’ve got a PS4, it should be your first port of call.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast