I was at the Copper Box for the big GT Sport event. Not all of it, you understand. Work calls on me for weekdays at the present moment and so I was only there from 6 till 9. But it was still enough for me to sample all I needed.
The first thing I sampled was the Lamborghini Huracan outside, actually. I might’ve taken something else but it was the most readily available car there and also the most powerful. It wasn’t drifting around but it’s 4WD so I wasn’t bothered either way. It was one very fast, furious and incredibly fun ride. The fastest I’ve ever had and might have until I get the chance in something faster. It was almost over too quickly, though. And it was really barely stretching its legs. Still, I suspect that among the other rides there, it’d be much like Stealth, the super-fast accelerating rollercoaster at Thorpe Park. Great fun.
But then it was time to actually sample the game itself. After taking pics of all the pretty VGTs around, I sat down and took my first sample in of GT Sport. With a controller, of course. I’m hopeless with a wheel and probably will continue to be until I can actually drive. And maybe even then I’ll still be hopeless.
The first thing that I noticed (read: caught me out) was rather significant; GT Sport is finally going to an R2/L2 control scheme. While this might be a bad thing to confess, I did all my reviews here and before with the old-school X-button control scheme. This has actually been ridiculously outdated for a long time now and so I’m glad that’s what I’ll be properly judging stuff with.
But what was I judging with it first? Well, I’d decided before I’d got there. Of course it’d have to be one of the Mitsubishi Evo’s that are now in the game. I’d seen the new Group B Rally Car on the dirt track and I’m not ashamed to say I was very aroused by it. And the Group 3 version that eventually came around as well looked promising as well.
So inevitably, neither was available for me to sample on the demos. It was always going to be thus, wasn’t it. So I decided to take probably the next best thing; one of the new VGTs. I picked the one I was most curious about, the Hyundai N2025.
Sadly, the tracks to test it on turned out to be rather limited. I decided at that moment that Brands Hatch was the one to go for, which was not that great a choice as it happened. I’m really not that good at the circuit in anything, and especially not in an LMP1 spec racer. But from what I could sample the Hyundai was pretty impressive. It’s obviously not the best test for any new sounds, since it’s so quiet being a hydrogen car, but its grip was still lovely and was certainly a great help.
But there wasn’t much time to sample too much else because coming up on the big screen coming up was a race on the big screen. Group 3 on the Nurburgring, mercifully reduced to just 1 lap this time, and which proved to be damn frenetic. The final race of the day proved to be just the same. Also, I failed to clock it until it was mentioned at the end of the first race, but it turned out that – I’m guessing through a largely GTP-inspired effort – they’d managed to get Tom commentating on the race. We were all impressed, PD were impressed, I thought he made a damn good effort too…what are the odds on him getting hired?
But after that it was time to get back to more cars. And, after hearing Kaz’s presentation again, I thought I’d go out and try as many of the newest cars as possible. Or indeed anything I really liked.
First up was the other new VGT available to us now, the Bugatti.
I actually ended up going on both new tracks in it, Northern Isle Speedway and Tokyo Expressway. I went for the latter first, and it again didn’t really turn out to be ideal for the Bug. While I’m sure it’ll be conducive to some good racing, it really is far too narrow and unforgiving to properly test something in it. So the Bugatti was rather left out there. But even so I did notice the sheer level of grip it had and how easily you can adjust it in a corner. So it’s certainly a solid drive on first impressions.
I did my only real actual race on the Northern Isle Speedway in the Bugatti. (Everything else I tested in Time Trial.) To be fair, a short track is not really the ideal place to test anything, and I have to say it seems a little out of place in this game now, unless they do put in something akin to NASCARs. Then it’d be ideal, I suspect.
The Bugatti is also blessed with an onboard view, thankfully, unlike most other VGTs at the moment. As it turned out, it would be the only one I could really sample, for reasons that are pretty silly but which will be explained in a moment.
Also given a test on Tokyo Expressway was something that wasn’t really that new, but still worth testing in my eyes. The Nissan GT-R 2017.
This was as good as I could reasonably expect, a grippy speed machine of a road car that actually could keep itself on the Tokyo Expressway. Here though, I uncovered a problem.
The switch view button, which is now the square button, wasn’t doing its job on the TV I was playing here. Thinking it had been set to something else, I tried R1 and found it switching to…an ugly shot of some hexadecimal extreme of the track’s environment. Pressing it again made it fine, but it was pretty disconcerting. At first I thought this was a GT-R exclusive issue but it happened with everything else I tried on the one TV I did a good deal of my testing on. Judging by the car sounds that seemed to be picked up, I suspect it might one day be used to be a cinematic camera of sorts…but when you can’t see the car here, driving it is, unsurprisingly, impossible. So I was stuck driving everything here in nose view. Annoying.
Still, it didn’t really distract me from driving anything else. Even though not everything else was that good at the job.
The Volkswagen GTI Roadster is not new to us, but this racing version certainly is. Volkswagen would have to be mad to actually race a roadster against GT3s, but the Supersport VGT is being reserved for the rally class in this game, unsurprisingly. I look forward to trying it out here, but I noticed this race version wasn’t all that good. Indeed I suspect that whilst the original was 4WD, this is RWD only and was consequently a whole lot slippier for it. That, and I was driving it on Brands Hatch. I did not enjoy this anywhere near as much as the original VGT.
Two other not new cars I sampled weren’t all that good for me either.
First was the Peugeot 908, which I made my first drive on the Nurburgring. It wasn’t an entirely successful endeavor. It was even more wild and out of control than the typical LMP and really wasn’t better off for it. Still, it didn’t escape me here that the sound did appear to be rather closer to a modern day diesel LMP.
The Mazda LM55 was rather better, as would be expected of something like it. I could really throw it around the Nurburgring properly, but as it turned out my driving prowess didn’t do it many favours. I mean, in this I managed to crash at Aremberg without cocking up Schwedenkreuz first, which never happens to me on the Nurburgring these days. Normally I cock up the first one then end up blowing the second as a result. I can’t imagine that the sole Magners I had there had anything to do with it. I’m not that lightweight normally and I wasn’t that night either. But I wasn’t really there with the LM55. It’d be great otherwise.
The three best cars I tested were also pretty much the last three I properly tested.
I wasn’t expecting too much from the Alfa Romeo 4C Group 3, if I’m honest. I was really expecting it to throw me around the Nurburgring and make me back out of driving it immediately. But then, whilst I hate to bring up the doomed word ‘Forza’ in here, I thought much the same would happen when I drove Forza 6’s Lancia Montecarlo. And that turned out to be a paragon of stability. The 4C ended up providing much the same result. Not to the same extent, mind you. There were plenty of little flicks to deal with and sometimes it did still snap quite badly, but at speed it is a great car. A car I’d certainly consider driving in the events it’s allowed it…were it not for the aforementioned Evo, of course.
The one car I drove all night on Willow Springs was the Volkswagen Golf GTI. What it seemed to prove most of all was how much tracks can affect one’s perception of a car in any game. Indeed, the Nurburgring from my experience is actually a great choice because I’ve noticed it makes the great cars really shine and the bad ones look as hopeless as they are. But, if anything, Willow Springs is nearly too good a track. Because I’ve noticed it makes plenty of cars seem really damn good. And that’s probably why the Golf GTI felt like the best thing I drove all night.
But in any case, there’s no escaping the fact that its turning in was utterly perfect. It hooked onto the road with absolute precision and with no hint of hesitation. These days even slow cars can feel fun when done right and the Golf GTI is one of these. I suppose this is why it is considered one of the best cars in the world right now.
The Mazda MX-5 ND was the last thing I drove all night, and my only drive on Brands Hatch Indy. It wasn’t a very long drive because I was pressed for time before I had to go home, but it was plenty long enough to see that it was a good as I thought it would be. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, actually. MX-5s in the past have varied from surprisingly stable to far more out of control than I want an MX-5. This swang on the drifty side of the scale for sure. That wouldn’t be what I wanted if it were wild drifting, but luckily this wasn’t. This was very controlled drifting that was completely harmless and still fun at the same time. I really quite like the ND as a real world car – I reckon it might be as sexy as the NB was, too – and I can tell I’ll probably enjoy it once I have the game itself. I’ll take one in metallic red, please.
There wasn’t much else to sample at the time first-hand but I can at least comment on other bits that have been announced. Sport Mode is pretty much just what we all expected, and given the car count I suspect they can’t possibly get in every relevant Lancia, so that means I’ll be going for Mitsubishi in the Manufacturers cup. Especially with the sweet, sweet promise of what is called ‘Group B’ rallying in this game…oh yes. Though I suspect I’ll be mostly spectating races seeing as I’m a long way from the best driver in the world.
The single player mode in this game doesn’t look the greatest, but then I suppose that’s not really what they’re focusing on. I’m as impressed by the graphics as everyone else mostly is, but I suspect they really have taken the livery editor a little too literally. Because at the moment it does appear to be just that. A menu where you can edit a livery…that is already on a car. But not create your own from scratch. Still, if they do it properly, I have many ideas for liveries to put on, say, some GT3 cars. Ideas I’ve applied in other games already…
But I suppose I really should say that I’m loving the idea of Scapes. I don’t say this too often, but I do really love travelling. And so somewhere with 1000 different photo spots in a ridiculous number of locations is a massive appeal to me. Especially because the photos themselves will look so utterly brilliant. So I look forward to that.
Really, what I’m waiting for now is the next batch of cars we can drive to be unveiled. Because that’s what I’m in it for, into the whole racing game genre for. To drive as many wonderful cars as I can.
Because, let’s face it, I’m probably not gonna drive in any of them. Maybe ride in a few of them, like the Huracan there. But mostly at this rate it’ll just be stuff like the last thing I ended up in; the miserable old 388 bus that took me into London for my train home. Needless to say, that will not be in Gran Turismo Sport.