An all-time favourite game of mine is Burnout 3: Takedown. The launch title I bought alongside my PS3 was MotorStorm. The outside chance of a new Ridge Racer is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Well, I mean, that last one's an exaggeration, but Bamco, it's time. Come on.
The point is, I love arcade racing games, and I probably always will. Often free of stuffy manufacturer licenses and untethered by reality, series like Burnout can really let loose. Flying around at ludicrous speeds, chaining together physics-defying drifts, and boosting your way to victory — these colourful, high-energy games are always fun, super satisfying thrill rides that never get old for me.
Having said that, I do dip my toes into more serious racers. I've enjoyed more sober driving titles like Race Driver: GRID, the F1 series, and DIRT Rally 2.0, to name a few. Though they're much more grounded, many games like this, which tread the line between arcade and simulation, still offer that excitement I'm after. There comes a point on the racing game spectrum, however, when sims become too realistic, and I start to lose interest. For the longest time, I thought this included Gran Turismo.
On PS2, I played Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and Gran Turismo 4. To be honest, I'm not sure what possessed me to get the latter, as I found the former to be dull as dishwater. I would've been quite young at the time; when GT4 rolled around, I'd have been 15 or 16 (and, let's remember, obsessed with Burnout). I thought the series was too clinical, straight-faced, and boring. It felt slow and rigid, with a sort of holier-than-thou sensibility that got up my nose. In my early noughties bedroom with my little portable TV, I convinced myself it just wasn't for me, almost resenting the fact it was somehow popular.
I've sat on that mindset for what is scarily close to 20 years. Many times Polyphony Digital has put out another gorgeous driving simulator, and many times I've ignored them. While I've continued to enjoy arcade racers through the years, my stance on sim racers and Gran Turismo has gradually softened, but I've always just assumed I'd bounce right off any new entries. I suppose I never put the time in to consider a) my tastes and mindset maturing, b) the games incrementally improving, or c) that I might one day work for a PlayStation-centric website.
During the PS5 reveal, Gran Turismo 7 was announced, and my colleagues were getting amped up about it. I couldn't care less, but I was obviously happy they were happy. Cool. The game released earlier this year, and those same colleagues talked it up, saying it's the best one in a long time, a return to form. Great. Have at it. Where's my new WipEout?
Just a couple of weeks ago, I received a Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel for review purposes. I'd always wanted to give these things a proper try, so I was looking forward to diving in. Sammy pointed out that, if I was going to review a wheel, I should have the PS5's flagship racer with which to test it. So, this was it, then. After about 17 years of apathy, I'd be playing Gran Turismo after all, and I had to, because it's my job.
You can read much more about my thoughts on the wheel itself in my review, but my experience during this little project has been quite eye-opening. Not only do I have a far greater appreciation for wheel-and-pedal setups and what they do for racing games, I've almost completely U-turned on GT. And I think it's because of the bloody wheel.
When I began playing a handful of racing games with the T248, I wasn't having a great time. Ultimately, I think I was impatient, expecting a wheel and pedals to transport me, unearth my digital driving potential. To start with I was extremely clumsy, far too heavy-handed, and the result wasn't pretty. I was entering corners much too fast, and then would be surprised when I ended up spun out on the grass. This sucks.
Then I booted up Gran Turismo 7. I knew little about how the game operates, so I was surprised when the very first thing you do is a Music Rally stage. I did know about these, and enjoyed the laid back drive to a classical medley, but it's an odd way to introduce the game. Then it plays a preposterous eight-minute sequence, detailing humanity's history with the automobile before kicking into high gear with some impressive gameplay shots. I couldn't help but crack a smile at what I was watching.
Obviously, though, the on-track experience is what began to change my mind. Those initial races in my wholly unremarkable Toyota Aqua, along with the first set of licence tests, were bafflingly enjoyable. I think what clinched it for me was the fact I was trying to learn how to properly use this racing wheel at the same time. Starting fresh with GT7 — a game that opens up rather slowly — I was almost forced to rewire my brain. Having you begin with a run-of-the-mill production car, especially with certain assists activated like the braking zone, was actually ideal. I could absorb this, learn how to drive the wheel and pedals in a not dissimilar way to learning how to drive for real: with patience, practice, and respect.
I guess I felt this most during the B-licence tests, which taught me about more nuanced use of the brake and accelerator, as well as giving me time to get used to steering with the wheel. GT7 was setting me up for success in other games as well as itself. I'm not saying I suddenly turned into racing game god, but I think this was the turning point where I finally started to "get" the T248. It was quite satisfying.
I also started to understand Gran Turismo, however. The racing wheel aspect certainly contributed, but I think some credit should go to the game too. Its purposely protracted start is kind of genius, because if I was thrown in at the deep end, I'm not sure I'd be writing this. It's quite a complicated game when everything is unlocked, but through the Café, it's all delivered to you in a relaxed, friendly manner that's super easy to digest.
Once I had the hang of how it operates, I started to realise I was genuinely loving GT7, regardless of the wheel. I'm not sure I know how to describe it, but there's a very particular quality this game has that I've not really appreciated before. It's so disarmingly nerdy about cars that you get caught up in it. Why am I watching this replay of my race in a Renault Clio? Why do I care what Luca has to say about rear wheel drive Japanese sports cars? What exactly am I getting out of washing my Mazda RX-7? Well, GT7's replays look spectacular, Luca's enthused summaries are endearing, and I want my nice cars to look their best, obviously.
This isn't necessarily a game for car lovers — it's a game that loves cars. I honestly feel I've gotten more from my short time with it than I have from any other racing game in recent memory. It is a bit pretentious, but it's also a rich, addictive racing game with far more enjoyable action than I anticipated. I'll still always love arcade racers, and I sincerely hope they make a big comeback, but the Thrustmaster T248 somehow upended years of indifference towards Gran Turismo in just a few days. If nothing else, I'm grateful for that.
Have you ever held one opinion of a game that totally changed once you actually played it? Do you also pop on Scapes Movies for a few minutes just to admire it? Go for gold in the comments section below.
Yea glad to see you enjoyed it. As an ex pc sim racer with a pretty good wheel at the time. I know how u feel, you just can't beat the feel and accuracy of a wheel and pedals. It turns the racing games you play on their heads.
My pc was dying and I was tempted to get back Into simplier console gaming, albeit at the sacrifice of my beloved sims. So since I've had f1 gt7 wrc10 and assetto corsa competition. But still no wheel yet. I'm tempted but it would mean a setup I haven't room for anymore.
I'm tempted getting a wheel and I miss those days. But I also don't miss the constant ffb fiddling and stuff that eventually killed sim racing for me.
One day I may get a wheel for ps5, if just for old times sake! But if you get good settings you can still have fun on a pad gt7 does this very well even if it feels heavily assisted, f1 also does a great job on pad and is challenging, then there a
Acc, that's as hard-core you will get on a pad!
Gt7 moan: they need to add the ability to sell cars and to save mid championships
Im back playing Split/Second,wish Blackrock Studios were still around, would love to see another Pure and Split/Second. Dont have much room for a wheel unfortunately.
It took me a while to get used to driving with a wheel on GT5. I was still getting faster lap times using a pad but once it clicked it felt glorious. I remember trying to master left foot braking and was even practicing it in my real car to get it down to a tee.
I'd love to try the Forza games with a wheel but one is enough.
Put your skills and new found love for the game to the test in the weekly push square fastest lap challenge on the forum
Can't believe you are driving a Suzuki swift Steve. After all the enjoyment fro GT7, surely you fancy something a bit more luxurious....
Like a Ford Focus.
Now try a racing game in VR for your next revelation
@Perturbator yep thats the next step and raised the level of realism ten fold. I could never get on with vr too long as a glasses wearer. But yea totally agree!
This, minus the wheel, was my GT7 experience. I love arcade racing because I race casually. Yet I bought GT7 launch day without rhyme or reason, with not having touched the series since the original. 45 hours later I’ll settle in for a few races a week and constantly try to improve my missions to Gold.
One baby step at a time.
Awesome to hear 💕
I was never the biggest GT fan back in the PS2/3 days (more of a NFS/arcade fan) but I enjoyed 7 enough before I got my Logitech g923. But since then, it's been an absolute blast. Love it.
Although I'm still the kinda guy to drive a Ford Focus around the Nurburgring against a bunch of super cars online 😂
If GT7 gets a PSVR2 mode then I'm instantly sold.
Ive always been fond of GT's amusingly slightly dry nerdiness about cars, as easy as it is to poke fun of it. And the racing has always been good. Cant really justify getting a racing wheel though, they're expensive.
Ive certainly bounced off stuff before; I tried xcom 2 amd it nearly put me to sleep. Proceeded to give it another shot and inexplicably became horribly addicted. Couldn't even say why.
Since writing this I’ve been playing it on a regular controller as I needed to pack the wheel away to save space, but I’m enjoying it a lot all the same. 🚗
Now go for all the gold times on all licenses and attempt some gold times on circuit experience. Also try racing clean in some online sport races and use the qualifying for practice and experience for whatever track its on. Just try best to avoid rammers early on as you try better your ratings to move up. All of which will make you a better racer overall. This is what I adore about GT it pushes you to do better, makes you want to learn the tracks and cars even more
I got the Logitech G29 recently and have been having a lot of fun with GT7 and relatively quickly found myself being faster than with the controller but more importantly the experience is so much better. More recently I've moved onto the likes of Assetto Corsa Competizione which is a big step up in terms of being a racing sim and also some Wreckfest which is great fun with the wheel.
Overall I'd say getting a wheel has been one of the best investments I've made in gaming for many years as anything from racing sim to arcade racing is so much more fun with it
Whilst you dont have peddle control, gyro is an amazing feeling option if you dont have the room for a full set up. Once yiu make that adjustment, it feels great and its revolutionised how the game feels for me. Id highly recommended yiu try it if you havent😀
Interesting read. I always bounce off sim racers for a lot of the same reasons. However, recently I had a similar experience with fighting games and buying a fight stick. It really opened up the genre for me. Now I’m like well shoot, maybe I just gotta spend a ton of money and I can like car games now too haha.
I just hope they make it fully playable with PSVR2 , with a wheel that would be something special.
If the new Forza is playable offline then it will automatically be 10× better than gran turismo to me lol
@Smiffy01 pure is so much fun I got it bundled with my Xbox 360 was really hoping it would get added to the backwards compatible games list on the Xbox one
@Would_you_kindly Its on the bc list now, needs the disk though.
@Would_you_kindly forza will never be better than gt 😂 lol.
I still prefer cartoonish kart racing games over than ultra realistic driving games.
@Smiffy01 AHH cool (: didn't know that I'll have a look for a copy online
@Would_you_kindly No probs, the bundle pack with Lego Batman is quite widely available cheap.
I have always been a huge fan of all things cars and racing related. Arcade and sim games I love them both. Been a fan of GT since the first game and I really like GT7, wasn't a fan of Sport.
Slightly off topic but I would love to see a new Ridge Racer as well and a new Outrun and Daytona.
@Smiffy01 I am enjoying Hot Wheels Unleashes, but I wish it had some Split/Second-like elements where the real world settings would mess with the tracks. Have dogs and kids come through, something!
@MFTWrecks I need to get back into Hot Wheels Unleashed, got put off by the barrage of DLC for it not long after launch.
@Dloki I always use glasses in VR. Quest 2 has an extra eye-sleeve-thingy that gives you more space in the headset for glasses.
I've never tried a racing wheel in VR though...that must be racing heaven!
funny how things work sometimes honestly , you don’t like something at first. , and then you do despite it being the same .
it happens with me all the time .
I often watch the ‘preposterous eight-minute sequence’ when launching the game (except for when rest mode from a championship).
The only bit I feel disappointed with is the adaptive triggers I feel could have been used more significantly.
I’m having such a great time with the game. Under appreciated and somewhat swept under the rug by the media for some reason whereas it’s one of the best games of the year up there with Elden Ring for me.
Lucky you playing with that wheel 😛👍🏻
@JJ2 it’s a racing game the mainstream gaming media doesn’t really care about racing games like that.
They are obviously wrong if so.
@JJ2 sorry but the reason it got "swept under the rug" isn't some mystery or big injustice.
The game gave up much of what made it great for overly grindy gameplay introduced to push greedy micro transactions.
From not being able to sell used cars to the fact that cars that used to cost a max of maybe $5 bucks in the previous game were now going for $20+ each some even MUCH higher.
They made sure the grind would push many towards these overtly over priced mtx and made sure you'd get NOTHING in return if you picked the wrong one.
That's not to mention the fact that the presentation of racing itself (not all the OTHER stuff where you're not actually driving) was quite bland and sterile.
And no it wasn't a "realism" issue as games like assetto are even MORE realistic without that feeling of being completely bland and stiff.
I played it for a week or two but once I realized just how bad it was and how much the mtx system was absolute greed.... Back it went to Amazon.
Maybe forza will finally be the game that nails the super impressive graphics WITH great gameplay that dances that line of being somewhat Sim but with some style.
@Smiffy01 I only got it recently with a little DLC thrown in. I like it! It's a very pure racing experience, which I enjoy on many levels (though I still wish it had some Split/Second-like mechanics).
I actually play on Switch 'cause I intended to play it with my daughter (she LOVES Cruis'n Blast) but it is waaaay too advanced handling-wise. Definitely not the kid-friendly game I expected, given the license.
I don't mind the DLC. They even gave me a lot for free just perusing the store. But yeah, I didn't pay near full price for it.
@MFTWrecks Im gonna give it another go
Yeah man, I absolutely love gt7 on the wheel...there's a real beauty about it ...you just can't beat it....
As for a game that introduced me to a whole new genre, well, star trek online......I'd NEVER played a MMORPG before, and purposely stayed away from them....until I tried star trek online.....which I fell in love with...in my first month of playing that game, I actually put in the equivalent hours of 16 days of gameplay!!!!!! I've NEVER done that before!!! But I enjoyed it so so much.....and since, Ive been happy to give certain MMORPG's ago 😀
I love racing games.
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