The way Polyphony Digital has scaled Gran Turismo 7 on three different PlayStation consoles, each with a very different performance profile, is absolutely fascinating – not least because the developer has also given us the mechanism to easily produce a huge range of comparison assets to browse, posing the differences are laid bare in a remarkable way.
Race replays can be saved and shared on the cloud across all consoles, while access to in-game cameras effectively gives us the ability to switch between versions at will. It’s clear that the game is indeed based on the existing Gran Turismo Sport engine, but the balance between exploiting the PS5 while still looking good and running flawlessly on PS4-class hardware is remarkable.
Let’s start with the absolute basics then. We’ve already established that the PlayStation 5 runs at native 4K with no sign of dynamic resolution scaling, and it’s clear that the latest-gen consoles are sticking to GT Sport’s established formula: it’s is native 1080p on the base PS4, reaching checkerboard 1800p on PS4 Pro (although if your Pro is set to 1080p output resolution on the console front-end, that’s what you will get instead). The PS5 then increased clarity, but we also noted less edge aliasing artifacts. Comparisons between the base PS4 and Pro beyond pixel count are minimal – they really are very, very close – although we did spot some lower resolution texture elements on the vanilla machine. However, you can essentially think of the standard PS4 as a 1080p rendition of the Pro experience.
It’s the comparison between Pro and PS5 that’s perhaps most interesting: both target ultra HD displays, but the Pro does so with around a third of the PS5’s pixel count. Meanwhile, in raw computing power, the PS5 has around 2.5 times the GPU power of the Pro – but it does a lot more than just push more pixels. In this regard, it’s similar to the recent Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 delivers a far greater boost to the experience than the raw teraflop numbers suggest.
That said, the GT Sport engine base means older machines still get a competitive experience and at first glance you might think the PS5 improvements are subtle, but the more you look at how the games compare, the more you enjoy the increase in loyalty. Foliage is always tricky to render: there’s a lot more and much better quality of it on PlayStation 5. Some circuits also increase tree density – to the point where in some cases Polyphony actually uses completely different, more detailed models on the new console.
The lighting also gets a substantial boost in fidelity – not just in its quality, but also in its implementation: the PS5’s indirect lighting solution is much better, simulating light bouncing at a quality superior to that of older consoles, especially visible on more reflective surfaces. Volumetric lighting effects also seem to be lacking on older PlayStation machines, while sunbeams are replaced with a less effective bloom effect.
By extension, cast shadows also appear reduced in quality or lacking compared to the PS5, with a much less effective cascade of shadow maps as well, looking visibly blurrier not too far from the player. This push for improved fidelity on PS5 also extends to vehicle models, where ambient cavity occlusion is missing on older machines, serving to give us a more realistic and shadowy look on PlayStation 5.
Beyond that, the new machine boasts a huge range of improvements, perhaps too many to mention, but there’s clearly an increase in texture quality across the board, while transitions level of detail (LOD) are much more obvious on older machines. Even with cars relatively close to the player, it’s possible to see less complex models in-game on PS4 and Pro when put side-by-side with PS5. Reflective quality is also improved: as in many driving games, GT7 uses a dynamic probe-based system where environments are dynamically sampled and then mapped onto reflective surfaces – like the car’s hood in “roof camera” view. “. They already have a fairly low resolution on PS5, but PS4-class machines are scaled down even further.
In-game motion blur is also implemented on PlayStation 5, adding to the feeling of speed and immersion. This is missing on PS4, but is accessible on PS4 Pro if the console front end is set to 1080p – as mentioned earlier, this replaces the checkerboard 1800p with native full HD, freeing up power for motion blur, as in more open the door to 60fps replays and likely improve in-game performance as well. 60fps replays are also optional on PS5 – ray tracing is the default, which limits performance to 30fps, but high framerate mode disables RT effects on replays and menus, effectively trading fidelity for fluidity.
Performance? There’s not much to discuss here. All versions target 60 frames per second and while slowdown is possible on all versions of the game, it’s the PS4 class of hardware that is generally less stable. In fact, it’s fair to say that the extra features added to GT7 mean that this new game seems to have more lag than its predecessor, GT Sport. That said, races in extreme wet weather combined with a crowded grid can cause performance drops on all PlayStations and sometimes this extreme load results in lower frame rates on PS5 earlier in races – although the tables are turning later. Performance is generally good in GT7, however, and in most scenarios it’s the new machine that’s smoother overall, outliers excepted.
It’s also no surprise to see that loading times are vastly improved on PlayStation 5. It’s true that GT7 on PS4 and Pro is still vastly improved over the quirky menu system and extended loading times of the PlayStation 5. PS3 era, but with the comparison between PlayStation 5 and its predecessor, we’re talking about an order of magnitude improvement or better – 30-40 second charges are usually completed in four seconds at most, sometimes faster ( as little as less than a second). In fact, the GT7 launch day patch actually reduced load times compared to the review code. Transitions from menus to gameplay are now virtually seamless in GT7 and that makes a huge difference.
In the end, Polyphony Digital delivered three excellent versions of Gran Turismo 7. As with other first-party Sony games, the PS4 and Pro versions are mostly identical – resolutions aside. And since the base engine was built for this generation of hardware, it’s still a great looking game – and major engine improvements (such as dynamic time of day, weather, cloud rendering, etc. ) make their way into all versions of the game. Comparing the PS4 Pro to the PS5 is almost like comparing a well-scaled PC game from its low/medium to high/ultra settings – with a significant resolution boost added in too. I’m still not particularly happy with the fact that the game requires internet access to run, but it opens up a nice feature: not only can replay data be shared between all consoles, but in-game progress is also freely interchangeable.
Whether it’s Gran Turismo 7 or Horizon Forbidden West, we’re often asked if the cross-generational requirement prevents the PS5 from being all it can be and if the existence of PS4 and Pro versions limits the scale and scope of the game. On the one hand, the obligation to maintain three consoles instead of one can have an impact on the resources of the studio. However, on the other hand, it must be emphasized that brand new game engines based on exciting new rendering paradigms do not appear out of thin air – they take a long, long time to develop: an interpretation of GT7 built from the ground up for PS5 would be impossible to deliver just over a year after the console launched. Expect new and exciting things from the upcoming Polyphony Digital game, but what’s clear from our testing is that GT7 on PS5 offers a huge range of improvements and enhancements over the last-gen version. of the title – and you get a vastly improved experience on Sony’s latest machine.