This week, Gran Turismo Sport was released, accelerating onto Playstations everywhere finally bringing its gorgeous, hardcore, ultra-realistic take on racing to modern consoles. It comes two weeks after the release of the Xbox One's premiere racing ...
The fall's two big hyper-realistic racing games are finally here—find out which one gets you where you need to go.
This week, Gran Turismo Sport was released, accelerating onto Playstations everywhere finally bringing its gorgeous, hardcore, ultra-realistic take on racing to modern consoles. It comes two weeks after the release of the Xbox One's premiere racing simulator, Forza Motorsport 7, which means that, if you love cars and racing them in as realistic a way as possible, you now have a big choice to make.
First, let's mention the obvious: Each of these games are exclusive to the console they're on, with no chance of crossing over. So if you want one of these games and you only have one of these consoles, your choice is made for you. PS4 owners get Gran Turismo Sport, Xbox One owners (and PC owners, Forza is available on both) have Forza Motorsport 7. However, if you're about to pick up a console and racing games are important to you (or you have both a Playstation 4 and and Xbox One/PC), read on.
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While both Gran Turismo and Forza are ostensibly out to do the same thing: let you take beautifully reproduced and shockingly tunable cars out for races on real-life speedways and courses—their approaches could not be any more different. Aesthetically, the games aren't even speaking the same language. Gran Turismo is like Car Church. It loves cars, first and foremost—loves their history, loves showroom closeups, loves their manufacturers, and invites you to worship along with it, shiny and chrome. It'll show you how, too—more than any Gran Turismo game before it, and more than Forza, Gran Turismo Sport is hyper-focused on teaching you to love cars the way it does, to drive the way it wants you to drive, and to instill a sense of pride in yourself for being a sophisticated car-lover with the good taste to play Gran Turismo.
Forza 7 is, first and foremost, a video game. It's full of video-gamey accoutrements, like loot boxes and constant reminding you of all the stuff you're earning and leveling up every time you play. Some of this is grating (the loot boxes, or "prize crates" as Forza calls them) and other parts, like the fact that your actual car collection "levels up" is weirdly compelling and makes you want to collect cars like you would Pokémon. It's also much, much friendlier than Gran Turismo, less sterile in its presentation, more eager to walk you through its many features
However, if you're less into how the game feels and just want to know which has the best stuff, well, there's a few things you know—the most important being that there is much more game tucked away in Forza 7. It has races where the time of day and whether can shift, which is both visually stunning to watch and also makes your races dynamic and more challenging—coping with rain-slick roads mid-race is a white-knuckle game changer, and will doubtless look incredible on your nicest TV. It also has many more cars than Gran Turismo, and a single-player structure that's easier to grasp, where you race through different events designed for different kinds of cars. Finish one series, and you unlock the next, progressing through various Cups until you land in the Forza Grand Prix at the end of your journey. (One strange and cool thing that Gran Turismo has is a VR mode, which makes for a great party trick that might also make your friends throw up.)
Gran Turismo Sport is all about loving cars, and assumes you are here to love cars with it. Forza Motorsport 7 is more about loving games about cars.
Gran Turismo Sport structures things a little differently. Its single-player campaign is more about teaching you how to drive so you can take those skills online, which is clearly where the game wants you to spend most of your time. And while Gran Turismo Sport does look like the slimmer package, its approach to teaching and rewarding you for good clean driving is utterly absorbing and totally addictive. It makes you want to learn every course and speedway, to know how to take very turn and corner and learn the pleasures of a perfectly-timed brake that lets you slide ahead of the guy in front of you without grazing a single object. It, ironically, made me realize how shitty I had been driving in Forza, a game that's liberal with assists for inexperienced racers, but not so great at coaxing you out of them.
(You also might want to know which game looks better, and that's not really a question we can answer yet. Microsoft is promising that Forza will be enhanced for its forthcoming Xbox One X, and while Gran Turismo does offer improved visuals for PS4 Pro owners that you can check out right now, we won't have a level playing field until the X is released in November. Stay tuned for that!)
Put simply, Gran Turismo Sport is all about loving cars, and assumes you are here to love cars with it. Forza Motorsport 7 is more about loving games about cars, and throws in all sorts of game-y stuff to keep you playing. There's a purity to the former that I really respect and love, and a sheer fun-ness to the latter that's also great. There's room for both of these games to co-exist, but not necessarily the time for you to invest in both—they're each pretty hardcore, and shine the most when you pour time into them. So make your choice along those lines—are you all about the fun of just driving, and don't want to deal with any extraneous stuff that gets in the way of getting better at racing? Go with Gran Turismo, even if it does have less cars—it's still really good at delivering a purist take on racing. It's a niche, but it fills that nice incredibly well. For everyone else, there's Forza—a great racing game that has something for almost everyone, except, of course, Playstation owners.
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