Early Look at Gran Turismo Sport - Major VR disappointment
Today marked the release of Gran Turismo Sport for the PlayStation 4. Not the PlayStation VR, but the PlayStation 4. There's a difference. Yes, the game does have a VR mode. Unfortunately, the included VR support is so paper thin, that it appears to be little more than an afterthought. In fact, upon booting up the game, I was wondering how long it was going to take, for the game to even recognize that I had a PSVR headset turned on. Most PSVR games will automatically activate a VR mode if the headset is already powered up. With Gran Turismo Sport, you actually have to go into the menu and manually turn on the VR support. It's clear during every step of this process, that VR was way down Polyphony's priority list.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. You're limited to racing a single car, one on one, on a paltry selection of unlocked tracks. There is no solo time trial. I don't even think your VR lap times are saved by the game. If there is a particular car you're interested in that requires credits to unlock, we'll you'll have to play the game "flat style" to get said car. As far as I can tell, it's impossible to earn any credits in VR mode. Also, while tons of tracks work in VR, you'll have to unlock them. Only a handful of tracks and cars are unlocked from the get go. The single biggest frustration, is that if you're a VR gamer that doesn't really want to bother with "flat" gaming, you're out of luck. To see the various tracks and try different cars, you're going to have spend some considerable time with the headset off. Personally, flat gaming just doesn't interest me much anymore, and locking VR content behind non-VR gametime, doesn't make much sense.
There are a few minor bright spots to mention. First off, the lighting engine is very impressive, at least in sunny conditions. Overcast conditions don't really provide much VR impact, but the sun shining through your windshield is as impressive as ever. The details inside the cockpits of the various cars can't be shortchanged either. This is where Polyphony Digital is second to none. The detail is outstanding, and even with the lower resolution that comes standard with this first generation Sony headset, it's a sight to behold. Your gloved hands gripping the steering wheel are particularly detailed and realistic. Trackside detail isn't quite as fortunate. You'll probably be reminded of PS2 era racing games as you notice the blurry and pixelated trackside objects. The overall graphics of the tracks themselves are pretty good, but everything is washed with that trademark Vaseline PSVR look that we're so familiar with. I always describe Driveclub VR as chunky and pixelated, and GT Sport is similar, although it fares slightly better in that department.
So, the final verdict is pretty obvious. This is a swing and a miss by both Sony and Polyphony Digital, at least when it comes to the VR side of things. Gran Turismo Sport could be one of the best driving games in the history of driving games, when we take VR out of the consideration, but I wouldn't know. If you own a PSVR, and you're still curious to try this game, my recommendation would be hitting up your local Redbox and trying the game for 3 bucks. You'll probably walk away from the whole experience 57 dollars richer.