I’m admittedly a bit late on this one, but given the recent announcement from Kazunori Yamauchi himself, it’s time to shift our focus on discussing the delay of Gran Turismo Sport. What should come as no surprise to fans of the Gran Turismo franchise, yet another modern entry in the once-historic series of console-based racing simulations has been pushed back from the original intended release date, indicating the game Polyphony Digital have been hard at work on might not live up to Yamauchi’s initial vision of the project.
We were supposed to be receiving Gran Turismo Sport for Sony’s PlayStation 4 sometime this fall, and on paper the title aimed to distance itself from the linear campaign of previous entries in the series, instead focusing on an iRacing-like experience with a heavy emphasis centered around online competitions. However, plans have changed, deadlines weren’t able to be met in time, and Kaz now lists the tentative date as sometime in 2017. This could mean anything from blowing off your date on Valentines Day to turn some extra laps in Gran Turismo as a last ditch effort to improve your safety rating, or the team at Polyphony need almost an entire year to flesh out the game.
A safe bet is the latter scenario. While we know that Gran Turismo Sport will basically resemble iRacing for the PlayStation 4, and we’ve seen a fair bit of both the vehicle and location roster, what we don’t know is basically anything to do with the physical gameplay elements. We’ve been left in the dark on what the completely re-built career mode will look like, we’re not sure how safe driving points will be awarded, and there isn’t even any sort of outline as to how competitions are going to be conducted on a weekly basis. We don’t know the average race length, how difficult it will be to progress through the online rankings, or what level of simulation value Polyphony plan to replicate. The more you dig about this game, the less there is to discover – GT Sport will have an abundance of GT3-spec race cars, Prototypes featuring a mix of real-world participants and Vision GT concepts, as well as many of the same locations featured in Gran Turismo 6… But that’s about it. Sure, there’s the weird FIA Virtual License… thing… Yet we’re still at the point where nobody’s really sat down and said “here’s how it will work, and what you can expect from the experience.”
We’re definitely sitting at an odd spot in which the vision of Gran Turismo Sport we’ve got in our collective conscious – a valiant attempt at taking the iRacing format and unleashing it on a much bigger audience with the help of an enormous budget – might actually look better in our fantasies than the final product when thrown into our PlayStation 4 consoles. As much as I almost enjoy ripping on iRacing for the endless bullshit that seems to surround the simulator, sitting down and determining the logistics of a competitive virtual online racing world isn’t an easy task, especially when someone like Kazunori Yamauchi is in charge of the project, and has zero experience with this side of auto racing simulators. It’s not like Gran Turismo 6 featured an obscure “Ranked Leagues” mode that could be expanded upon in full for GT Sport; we’re looking at a guy who’s admitted in interviews that he hasn’t even played the products of his competitors, and whose last two titles were blasted by the community who once adored his PlayStation 2 releases.
I’ve heard, from those who have tried the beta builds available at the various conventions, that there’s at least a bit of potential with the game. But a delay such as this one, especially after GT5 and GT6 really shitting the bed in the eyes of longtime fans, is not the way you want to start the project. There’s always a reason games in this genre get delayed – we’ve seen it with Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, and DriveClub – so you know things aren’t going as planned behind the scenes.
I like the concept of Gran Turismo Sport, and I think it’s right for someone to try and do what iRacing does, but better, yet as the asshole who runs PRC, it’s disappointing to see this delay. I started the week writing about how Assetto Corsa on consoles was a buggy-ass game, ventured into the topic of a developer literally re-selling a game they refuse to finish on two new platforms, and now we have one game with at least some potential pushed back by an enormous amount. This genre isn’t dying, but it’s definitely getting driven to the hospital for long-term care.