This weekend we cleared the diary for one very important thing, to binge-play the new Gran Turismo Sport title which finally arrives on the PlayStation 4.

First off, there was a minor issue as the racer was in a pre-release phase with no online server available meaning that we were left with Arcade and Campaign modes only. However, thanks to a partially-completed save file provided by Sony, we were able to test-drive a number of the features.

After a nearly a full weekend of getting up close and personal with what is Sony’s marquee PlayStation 4 racer, we can confirm that Gran Turismo Sport is the by far the most polished of the series since the next-gen consoles (PS3/PS4) were introduced. The gaming experience can be slightly restrictive at times, but overall it is a strong improvement and a big leap forward over the GT games of old.

In the coming days, we will be bringing you our thoughts on the online racing and server related features once we get more time with them.

Stunning visuals and all the grit and chaos of racing

If you have high-end hardware, then GT Sport in HDR mode is available. We don’t posses such things so standard mode was as good as it gets. Even in this mode the news is good with crisp graphics full of detail; the cars look exactly as you’d expect given the history of the title with every single aspect brimming with masses of intricate modeling.

Everything is pin-sharp and with highlights including such things as the sparks coming from the GT3 and GT4 racecars as they speed over rumble strips, when on the internal camera view the level of detail is simply gorgeous, with the ability to look around the cabin adding to the 'putting you in the drivers seat' experience.

From the external camera views the cars and track environment looks utterly immense, seeing an AI car drift out of a corner has never looked so good.

Driving in Gran Turismo is all very, well, Gran Turismo

For those familiar with the GT series, the way the sport instalment drives is like being welcomed home. When compared to the hardcore element of Project Cars 2 and the more arcade-like Forza 7, GT Sport sits comfortably in the middle of the two titles.

For starters, it’s not as frustratingly hardcore in terms of the way the game punishes you if (and when) you make a hash of things on track. However, after practice, there is a sense of satisfaction watching your lap times tumble as you push things harder on track.

You get a strong sense of what you’d expect in a track environment, with the slower in game cars you get the expected body-roll and understeer when pushing them to limit on. The same applies to the GT3 cars, where you get a track-honed setup with brakes so strong that your internal organs are rearranged everytime you stamp on them. For each class of car, the in-game physics come into play meaning a majority of cars react as you would expect given for reality versus a simulation-based gaming environment.

A smaller garage is a good thing

One of the biggest grumbles about the previous sixth installment of GT was the almost 1,200 strong garage of cars available. This mass of cars always seemed like a carryover from previous titles, for example, GT6 had 14 variations of Corvette available for players to drive. GT Sport does things a bit differently with just 162 total cars for players to choose from at launch.

Some will moan that this is too few; however, we think it's possible to drive a majority if not all of the cars in the game. We would expect more DLC cars to arrive in the future, but for now driving every single in-game car is a somewhat achievable target for the first time.

Sound of a full-bloodied racer

Again a criticism of the previous incarnations in the GT series, the lawnmower sound of some cars down the pecking order. Thankfully though the games developers have rectified this with a more immersive and realistic sound setup that echo’s around the environment as you race.

Switching from an internal to external view changes the environment completely, all of the bangs, pops and screeching of tortured tyres becomes more prevalent. Switch to the internal view and your greeted with all of the noise you’d expect from a stripped out race-car along with the audible engine noise with yet more tyre squeal.

Driving school, leveling up and driving etiquette

To teach you how to be a better GT driver the game offers you campaign mode featuring, Driving School, Mission Challenge, Circuit Experience and Racing Etiquette.

These are a throwback to the GT titles of old; this setup teaches you the game as you work your way through the various tests and challenges. The single best point is that you can level up as you progress. The racing etiquette is the oddest one, as it attempts to teach players how not to be idiots and be nice to each other while racing online.

In progress verdict

From our time with the game, we managed to try a reasonable amount of the features and can confirm that GT sport is a strong and focused return to form for the franchise.

The cars and tracks all look stunning; the sound updates are a welcome update that adds to the experience massively. With the gameplay being far more accessible to a greater number of people due to it avoiding the ultra-hardcore elements of PC2 and the ultra physics-defying arcade style FM7.

As with all games, there are minor grumbles such as the online-only save function and the lack of dynamic weather as good examples. However, GT Sport is an immersive and stunning looking game that presents a substantial challenge making it a must-have title.

Gran turismo sport

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