As Ars’ resident automotive guru Jonathan Gitlin tears through the nuts and bolts of this week’s new racing video game, Gran Turismo sport, you have asked me to pass the time by reviewing the top ingredients. Namely, Jon does not have a PlayStation VR headset or a 4K HDR display, and both are essentially and exclusively supported by the new Gran Turismo game (and the first in the series for PlayStation 4 Pro).
Basically, you want to feel comfortable by not buying either of those ridiculous items. I have good news and bad news for him.
4K/HDR performance: A well-oiled machine
Let’s start with the high-end TV stuff. This applies especially to TVs that are rated for both 4K resolution (a 3840 × 2160 pixel) and HDR-10 color gamut, and you’ll need a PlayStation 4 Pro to qualify on the net. All PlayStation 4 consoles are capable of pushing HDR-10 color, but the effects are more impressive with a higher pixel count, and you’ll need a PS4 Pro for that.
Anyone with a display rated for HDR-10 content knows how hard it is to find display material—the kind that looks amazing to anyone, as opposed to the kind of “I swear This is a beautiful scene” TV snake-oil. Complicating matters are a variety of “HDR” films and content that are not truly mastered for the high-gamut standard, not to mention the fact that for the game to really be in HDR, they need a perfect HDR-specific color and texture across.
Forza Motorsport 7 It looks great on my display, but as we said in that game review, it’s an example of an HDR shoe on a project specifically designed for standard gamut screens. Certain details, like a distant sunset or a faint light in a tunnel, can be picked out Forza 7 has the highest gamut of an HDR display, but the rest of the content, from racetrack details to car paint jobs to even the expansive blue skies above a course, can suffer from poor color detail.
Gran Turismo sport, if we look at it again, is absolutely meant for the “I spend way too much on my TV” people. There is really nothing like it on the market, and it is coming from a person who has looked Planet Earth II on a 4K HDR screen at least 37 times since its review.
The main point of difference comes from the lights on all cars. All headlights and headlights are, literally, brilliant. As in, they are bright as they all come out, filled with red white, yellow, and white color data. Most of the lights in the game are set in the highest gamut so they produce it natural glare effect in your face, instead of relying on the usual baked “fire light” effect that you commonly see in any car business. With HDR enabled and artificial glare reduced along the way, you still get to see low-lights that are sometimes stacked in high-lights.
Nearby lights, from solar systems to street lamps, aren’t shy about popping out GTSCrazy crazy cars, but the game also benefits from physical light that bounces off nearby areas, which the HDR color gamut pipeline reproduces in a beautiful fashion. Every race in the morning, evening, and night is bathed in an additional layer of orange, blue, or green, as depending on the objects and darkness in view at any time, and the effect is pretty amazing on sports red-orange car.
You can also take solace in the stupidly accurate color reproduction on the game’s expensive real-world cars, which really pays off if you settle for anything less than, say, the Ferrari-specific “rosso corsa” shade. It’s a certain shade of red, with a hint of orange under your eyes, and GTS is the first video game to feed precise, stunning color to a compatible TV with stunning accuracy.
Every car here benefits from the exact reproduction of such expensive paint jobs. How good are the results? Sure, Ferrari or Lamborghini sell the idea, but I’m more impressed by a really weird car: the Toyota S-FR.
This funky 2015 roadster is only available in one color GTS: Artificial, candy-runt banana yellow. My HDR display was able to reproduce its unusual hue in a manner that standard screens simply could not reproduce, especially to the combination of strong yellow data and hints of blue color mixed at the top of the gamut spectrum. I was both surprised and grossed out by the results at first—like, hey Toyota, maybe don’t let HDR TV owners see that.
But then I took it into the game’s virtual showroom, which saw the car driven around various real-world scenes like city plazas, race tracks, and even a cliff edge. In these scenes, the car’s interesting design and unique headlight system can explode with realistic and body-based shades while the dramatic, circular headlights explode at the upper ends of the spectrum. HDR lighting. The moment I watched the S-FR drive through the cobblestone streets of an old European city, I began to envy anyone who could own this strange-ass car in real life.
Once you are in the actual game, unlike any other GTSThe “car show” scenes, the HDR contrast is also noticeable, but it can come and go depending on the race you’re in. Bright afternoon skies put a nice blast of sunshine on every car and plenty of nearby scenery, and the night races are full of all the aforementioned light and color effects. But a foggy, mid-day race looks, well, just like a foggy middle of the day. Those humble, gray games don’t come out the same way, and you have to brick your expectations accordingly.
But even these “boring” scenes still look better in HDR than on standard resolution or color. (In good news for standard PS4 owners, all versions of the game run at a crisp 60 frames-per-second.) If you’re playing this game on a standard 1080p TV, you’re missing out on the details of he moved. the game’s visual design beyond viewing like fancy model cars.
Gran Turismo VR: Not much gas in the tank
The same drool cannot be applied to the game’s VR mode.
For one, PlayStation VR owners are limited Gran Turismo sport‘VR Arcade”s mode, which isn’t even fully featured like the 2D game’s Arcade mode. While you can choose from any race in the game for VR racing, you can’t adjust the opponent’s difficulty… and you can’t race against more than one opponent. The number of racers is likely limited to reduce the game’s rendering strain in VR, but I am at a loss to understand why the problem is turned down to the stupidest system the game can possibly muster.
That’s doubly bad once you consider the cost GTS automatically assists drivers who dare to enter the VR racing cockpit. Even though I manually disabled every assist the game has to offer, I was able to repeatedly slow down the auto and turn on the assists while driving as passively as possible in the game’s VR mode. Both of the automatic VR aids are more subtle than when they’re intentionally turned on in standard 2D driving, at least, and I’m still able to bump into walls or roll out of power.
In general, however, GTS really, really doesn’t want you to feel out of control while pushing PlayStation VR to its limits. What is strange, then, is that it is not a priority warm up VR racing game, maybe. Polyphony Digital has deployed the game’s rally races in VR for a reason, though they produce the mode’s most vomit-inducing moments. Meanwhile, for the standard, endurance racing that fills most of the VR Arcade, I’ve seen nothing in the way of sharp grounding techniques such as side-barring or grounding to add comfort. Anyone completely new to VR might want to hold off on this as their first VR experience, as a result, but otherwise it’s comfortable enough once you get used to how VR works.
Games run well enough in VR, but want DriveClub VR before that, GTSVR mode runs at a faked 120Hz refresh rate, which is really 60 frames per second with some interpolation generated automatically. This is not quite kept up with GTS‘s sense of urgency, and while the results should not make anyone sick by default, they fall short Project cars 2The default settings are “low” for VR, which results in 90fps performance on PC—and therefore looks more fluid. That game, in addition, is more comfortable in VR, because of the visual details that are expressed in the cockpit and a clear understanding of the real car’s movement and inertia.
Adding real insult to VR injury, none of your progress or effort in Arcade VR mode is paid with in-game currencies such as experience points, drive miles, or in-game cash.
As a result, it is difficult to recommend GTS‘s VR mode as a reason to buy this game. Sony should have added this description mode as a freebie to lower expectations to current PSVR owners. Commission any pay value to it is ridiculous.
As for the rest of the package: Stay tuned to Ars for Jonathan’s upcoming preview of the full game.