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Gran Turismo Sport dials up the racing realism

Gran Turismo Sport is not called Gran Turismo 7. That might sound like stating the bleeding obvious, but it’s worth remembering. The venerable series’ arrival on PS4 was always going to be an inflection point for Gran Turismo, as it was finally forced to discard hundreds of lower-detail car models that would have looked comically awful splashed across your 43in 4K telly box.

The biggest casualty isn’t the loss of five different types of Honda Prelude, of course, it’s the loss of GT Mode. Gran Turismo’s Pokemon-esque car collection campaign mode has been the central part of all six of the previous GT games and now it’s gone. Filling the void is Sport Mode, a competitive multiplayer interpretation of the structure and regulations of real world motorsport. Thankfully, it’s excellent.

The three ‘daily races’ cycle through every hour, meaning even if you only dip into the game briefly you can see several events to completion and earn a bit of cash. More significant events, such as rounds of the Nations and Manufacturers’ cups, will run to a more rigid schedule and will feel like more pressured, important races because of it. We can’t wait to snap like a cocktail stick under that pressure and go sailing off at the first corner in a cloud of tyre smoke and brake dust.

Instead of a haphazard selection of machinery from across automotive history, GT Sport focuses on fleshing out its racing classes, ensuring you’re spoilt for choice within them. The two central classes in Sport Mode are Group 4 and Group 3, directly comparable to GT4 and GT3 in motorsport. Like the real thing, they guarantee exceptionally close racing between a wide variety of manufacturers and models. Unlike the real thing, these cars aren’t necessarily being pedalled by professional racing drivers.

Yes, there are still people who lurch across the circuit like drunken toddlers and clatter you off the road – it remains an online racing game – but Sport Mode’s attentive stewarding system dishes out sensible time penalties that, in especially chaotic races, can see you finishing on the road outside of the top 10 but posting a podium finish on the final leaderboard. Cue smug selfies in front of the results screen.

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