When we reviewed Gran Turismo 7 on the PS5 last year, the “real driving simulator” lived up to the billing as far as visuals and performance were concerned. The one area it fell short was a little bit of excitement when it comes to actually racing, which is something that a number of the Forza titles have nailed of late.
Then PlayStation decided to release a port of the game for the PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2) and quite frankly, it is nothing short of a game changer.
When playing Gran Turismo 7, and indeed other titles in the series, our go to point of view for driving was behind and above the car. We dabbled with the first-person perspective, but it too lacked the excitement we mentioned earlier.
With the PS VR2 port, while it is for all intents and purposes the same view, the ability to look around the interior of the car at will adds a new level of immersion. As is the fact that you can feel the cars next to you as you pass them on a straight or jostle for position during the apex of a corner. Then there’s the cursory glances you give to the rearview mirror as you climb up positions on the track.
So what makes this experience different?
Old perspective, New feeling
Well as you can guess it’s the new VR headset. We say headset as you can play Gran Turismo 7 on the PS VR2 sans the two Sense VR controllers, instead using your DualSense or DualSense Edge controller to play the game. Also supported are selected racing steering wheels, but we don’t have access to those and therefore cannot speak to that experience.
That said the regular controller option is quite solid indeed, and certainly lowers the learning curve needed to play the game in VR. It is an approach we could certainly see applied to future ports where first-person perspective is needed. Destiny 2, Call of Duty, Cyberpunk 2077, and more would all be more interesting prospects if a PS VR2 port was in the mix.
For now though, games like Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village are the ones getting the treatment.
Back to the actual gameplay now and there’s a lot to like about the experience. We have mentioned already that being able to look around the interior adds a new take on an old perspective, but there is something quite satisfying about watching the gear changes on your John Cooper Works Mini and feeling the body shift as you throw it aggressively into a winding corner.
There is also something to be said about this driving perspective that makes you drive a bit more aggressively. That’s not to say that you’re a danger on the track, but rather that you feel a bit braver in pushing the envelope.
We should make mentioned too of the issue of motion sickness that exists when it comes to VR gaming. We have played other titles on the PS VR2 and the most we can muster before needing to take a break is 45 minutes.
With Gran Turisomo 7 there is none of that, as we easily went an hour and a half, only taking the headset off to wipe our brow and grab a drink. While we’re not experts on the subject, we think the seated position while playing in combination with the DualSense controller means you’re focusing more on the action up ahead as opposed to all over the place.
Either way for those concerned about motion sickness while playing, Gran Turismo 7 might be the best game to start with.
Worth a R14k accessory?
Now for the elephant in the room – price. Playing Gran Turismo 7 in VR is not an affordable endeavour. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When you factor in the cost of the PS5 console, the game itself, and the PS VR2, you’re in for about R26k in total. We know that you’re not going to only play one game with all that hardware, but it is an important factor to consider whether this is worthwhile.
To this we say simply it’s about need versus must.
Do you need a PS VR2 to play Gran Turismo 7? No.
Must you play Gran Turismo 7 if you own a PS VR2? Yes (in our books at least).
We mentioned in our review of Horizon Call of the Mountain, that as a hero title for the new PS VR2 system, it did not quite live up to the billing. In our experience to date, it may be Gran Turismo 7 that delivers the best that the PS VR2 has to offer.
In the Venn diagram of people that own a PS VR2 and Gran Turismo 7, if they are not making use of the new VR headset to play this impressive game, they are truly missing out.