When entering Classic Throttle Shop, you are greeted by a fleet of classic vehicles; some built for luxury, others for speed. Ferrari, Porsche, and Bentley to name drop a few. There’s even a 1959 Lotus Eleven Le Mans with racing stripes and a 1954 Land Rover in Desert Beige – Both available for the right price. With all of the eye candy on display, it was easy to forget that I wasn’t here for these cars.
Upstairs, Sony was holding a hands-on demo of its upcoming PlayStation 4 racer Gran Turismo Sport. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the series and an impressive 76 million copies sold. You could guess that the launch of GT Sport is a big deal. So to help set the scene, Sony brought along a McLaren and the new Mercedes AMG-GT. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities to test these beauties, but I did get to drive a McLaren in game. That still counts right?
Gran Turismo’s ‘Sport’ moniker means a slightly different direction for the series. Instead of featuring the most iconic vehicles throughout history, GT Sport focuses solely on the fastest, contemporary sports cars. Gamers who enjoyed building a collection of classic cars won’t appreciate the shift, but most racing fans should still be satisfied by the 150-plus vehicles. The spokesperson for Sony stated that ‘Sport’ also represents the competitive nature of the game’s online community which will expand through 2018 to include opportunities for gamers to represent their countries in FIA-certified championships.
My hands-on with GT Sport began using a PlayStation VR headset and racing wheel. I raced 3 laps around Mount Panorama in an orange McLaren. It’s not the traditional vehicle for experiencing this track, but a fun one nonetheless and a great warm-up for the Bathurst 1000 this coming weekend.
Developer Polyphony partnered with Sony Imaging to accurately recreate each car and location for an authentic driving experience. In VR, I could turn my head to look around the McLaren’s cabin and appreciate the intricate detailing of the leather trim, Active Dynamics Panel and the side mirrors. Sadly, the game itself doesn’t look great in VR due to the limitations of the headset. Also, all vehicles are designed with left-hand drive – sorry Aussies.
PlayStation Pro in 4K is the best way to play. Here, the graphics are crisp and almost flawless. I was seated far too close to the TV to not see pixelated edges on the cars and track. From an optimal distance, I can safely say GT Sport is the most impressive looking racing game I’ve seen.
This time I raced a Ford Mustang Gr.4 around Nürburgring and a Subaru WRX around Colorado Springs. The handling was responsive, and the feedback of the racing wheel was impressive, if not a little overwhelming. GT Sport goes for realism after all, so Mario Kart fans heed my warning.
Afterwards, I briefly tried my hand at the new Scapes mode. Short for landscapes, Scapes lets you channel your inner photographer by custom-placing cars on iconic real-world backgrounds with a plethora of filters and social sharing options. Basically, it’s Instagram for video games. Scapes is a neat addition, but a feature that I can’t see myself investing in.
Overall my time with GT Sport was short, around half hour total, but favourable. I’m looking forward to playing the racer more after its launch on October 18th. On the same day, PlayStation is launching a limited edition GT Sport console bundle that will get hardcore fans excited. The console bundle will retail for $549.95 in Australia.
Sony is also giving you an oppurtunity to go hands-on from October 9 with a 4 day demo available for download from the PlayStation Store. The good news is that in-game progress will carry over to the full release.