Racing games are two-a-penny these days, Gran Turismo set the world on its path in the late 90’s with imitators taking things to a more hardcore simulation style, or going more arcadey, come along in recent years, taking the shine away from Polyphony Digital’s trend setter. While the PlayStation 3 versions of the game sold by the bucket load, they were bloated efforts carrying on the legacy of the early games. GT Sport was a different beast at launch, so different in fact that I shied away from getting stuck in.
If anything was going to put me off at first, it was the use of the word sport in the title. It immediately implied a focus on the eSports aspect of the game, with the singleplayer side of things being somewhat left behind. While that might have been true at launch, the fine folk at Polyphony have been busy since release, adding new cars, tracks and singleplayer game modes. What we have now, is a GT game focused on eSports, but not forgetting the singleplayer roots that first attracted so many to the series. It is also a slim, trim beast of a game.
While it might still be lacking in tracks, or at least, real world ones, the range of cars, clocking in around the 200 mark after the big February update, is a much welcome selection of the finest machines on four wheels. When previous games in the series boasted of thousands of cars, my experience with GT6 was that a dozen of those cars were Subaru Imprezza’s. That wasn’t counting the assorted versions of the rally model. This time around, the Subaru garage has a smooth six cars to choose from; a day-to-day WRX (the sequel to the Imprezza) and a WRX model (plus one BRZ) for some of the higher-end classes within the game. It’s a similar story with Mitsubishi, the thousand models of the Lancer have been cleared out, leaving a well balanced four flavours of Lancer.
There’s no more skulking around dealerships, or the dreaded used car market, to pick up your first wheels, you are granted a truly useful car from the off. My first pit stop was to old faithful, the GT League which arrived in the December update. I was quickly taking in the Clubman Cup with my WRX, winning some events, fighting for the podium in others. I won’t be bold enough to claim the AI is out of this world, but it is a vast improvement on days of old. They will fight for position and won’t merely play follow the leader.
After a couple of race wins, the money was rolling in, as was drive XP, miles and mileage points. All devious little tools to help you progress, keep you engaged, and even reward you. After only a few hours of play, my garage was starting to be populated by racing Mazda’s, muscle bound Ford Mustangs, and even a McLaren supercar. Yes, GT Sport might not feature a Suzuki Alto, but are you really that bothered? Polyphony want you to get into the action with cars befitting current generation of consoles, not carrying over car models whose lineage can be traced back to the first GT.
There’s plenty to keep me occupied without worrying about getting in the way of real racers in the online action. The GT League has plenty to offer any discerning singleplayer racer, while I’m already halfway through the enjoyable driving school. Not being required to complete the driving school to do singleplayer racing is welcome, while the credits, XP and mileage are a bonus. Mission Challenges are already proving themselves to be a highlight. A mix of things to get involved with, from straightforward races, to speed targets to overtaking as many cars as possible in one small sector of a circuit. Talking about the circuits, you can spend your time learning their ins and outs by breaking them down sector by sector, including 11 sectors of the Green Hell, the Nurburgring Nordschleife. I’ll be taking that on slowly but surely, until I feel ready to go for it over a full lap.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of what else is going on amongst the different manufacturers. Videos showing off their new models, while a museum tracks their famous moments, from founding to sporting success to the release of exclusive models. There’s an impressive amount of automotive history on show here which I am looking forward to diving into. The photo editor, featuring Scapes where you place your cars against real world backgrounds, is impressive. Those with more time and patience than I will come up with some amazing shots, but I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with. Though I am pleased with my show from the pits at Le Mans.
Whether I would have enjoyed my first few hours as much if I had bought the game at launch, I’m not sure. But right now, I think I took the dive into GT Sport at the right time.