Gran Turismo 7 Review
PSVR 2 landed on February 22, 2023 and one of the big announcements was the addition of a VR mode for developer, Polyphony Digital’s, Gran Turismo 7. This was an announcement long in coming and one time, before COVID, the expectation was GT7 would be a PSVR 2 launch title.
A year later, the VR update has come and racing fans are in heaven. When the VR mode was first announced, it wasn’t clear whether it would be a restricted feature, like in GT Sport, or for the full game. Turns out it’s a bit of both, but happily the VR Mode is active where it counts – it’s available for all on track activities. However, the main screen and all the menus are displayed flat in a big screen, cinema mode.
So anytime you get on track, the view shifts to an inside the cockpit view after the 3, 2, 1 countdown. This includes all single and multiplayer modes. The only exception is, understandably, the two player split screen mode. There’s also a VR showroom mode and a VR replay mode.
Adding a VR mode to a racing sim as detailed as GT7 is no small feat. The image must be displayed twice in each display to create the magic of VR. The full use of the tech of the PSVR 2 is called into play. Eye tracking and foveated rendering make it possible to tailor the power of the PS5 to project the two lenses.
The game only creates the most detailed image in the area of the screen where the player is looking. They display all the remaining portions of the screen at lower resolutions to reduce the workload on the PS5. You can see the results on the social screen output. If the player is looking straight ahead, the steering wheel, gauges, and the track ahead are all done at high quality. In contrast, the graphics to the left and right of the player’s gaze are noticeably are lessor quality.
The most salient point is the graphical disparity is unseen inside the PSVR 2 headset, thanks to the eye tracking. Try as I would, I could never catch the eye tracking and foveated rendering, failing to keep up with my gaze. It’s an amazing display of the PSVR 2 tech in action.
Frame rate is never more important in a game that it is for racing sims. A dropped or missed frame could cause a racer to misjudge a breaking point, missing the apex of a corner and not getting back on the gas as soon as possible. All which affects the optimal time a lap can be completed. With the difference in best lap times measured in thousandths of a second, such instances can be the difference whether you secure a pole position or not.
The PSVR 2 runs GT7 at a butter smooth frame rate of 120 FPS. It does this through a bit of trickery. The PS5 creates a native 60 FPS and then the use of reprojection sends a 120 FPS image to the headset. Reprojection creates images through the use of algorithms to render the extra frames. In VR games with lateral movement, you can see a blurring effect. In GT 7, the blurring is kept to a minimum because movement is mostly straight ahead.
Gran Turismo 7 Depth Perception
So what does VR bring to a racing game like GT 7? Well beyond the usual immersion because of true life scale, the chief attraction is depth perception. With depth perception, you can more accurately determine when to brake and when to speed up. Plus, it gives you better situational awareness of the surrounding cars. This allows you to make better decisions on when to try an overtake or when to step back.
Graphically, the VR version of the game looks very close to the flat screen version. GT 7 unobtrusively makes graphical concessions. Shadows and reflections are of a lower quality. However, the interior of the cars looks fantastic. You can look around the entire interior of the car. GT 7 restricts the on track VR mode to cockpit view. So be prepared, if you are used to playing in any of the other views, such as the bumper or behind the car.
The wow factor of the VR mode really comes into play with the VR Showroom mode. Here, you can virtually view every car in the game in a variety of locations. You can walk around the car and really appreciate car craftsmanship. This appreciation increases when you go into the interior. The amount of detail of each interior is a marvel to behold. It’s only in the VR Mode that you can really appreciate the work put in by the GT 7 development team.
There’s one further VR mode, and that is the trackside replay. Here you can review your race in VR in a limited mode. You can only view the race from fixed positions around the track. These positions are the ones used by the trackside cameras. The VR Replay mode is the least impressive because from this viewpoint, you are seeing the cars moving across the screen, which really highlights the blurring of images because of reprojection.
You can really add to the immersion level with a force feedback wheel and pedal set. However, if you don’t want to pony up the extra cash, fear not. The PS5 Dual Sense is the best joypad available for racing. With the adaptive triggers for brake and throttle and the haptic feedback for feeling road surfaces, the game does an excellent job of mimicking the real-life counterparts. You can also use the gyro function for proper steering inputs over the analog sticks.
Quibbles aside, this implementation of VR in GT 7 is amazing. Your sense of racing immersion and speed is unparalleled. I’ve raced in PCVR and the image quality and smoothness of the PSVR 2 trumps them all. To take an activity represent in 2D, we are familiar with, driving, and turn it into 3D makes the experience more intuitive. We can use real world experience and apply it to the game. That is something that makes simulation games, especially cockpit based ones, such a great fit for VR.
Gran Turismo 7 and PSVR 2 is a plug’n play experience when you will spend all your time driving, and no time tweaking and fiddling with your PCVR setup to make the game run satisfactorily.
If you are looking for the ultimate racing experience, then GT 7 paired with the PSVR 2 is a winning combination.
***PSVR 2 Code provided by the publisher. ***
Showcase use of PSVR 2 tech
Plug’n Play VR racing
Main interface not in VR
Cockpit view only in VR