About a year after its debut on PS4 and PS5, Kazunori Yamauchi’s latest creature (here the special on the history of Gran Turismo) comes out of the box and also arrives on Playstation VR 2. Among the various contents that update 1.29 brings to dowry however, the landing of this hymn to car culture on the shores of virtual reality is not the only one worthy of attention.
In addition to having fun with five new cars and a famous track – returning from previous chapters – the drivers of Gran Turismo 7 (here is the review of Gran Turismo 7) will be able to challenge the artificial intelligence developed by the joint efforts of Polyphony Digital and Sony AI, or Gran Turismo Sophy.
A driving “filoSophya” never seen before
Without getting lost in futile chatter, we immediately inform you that our first experience with the new AI implemented in the game has left us speechless. The event currently available, which will remain available until the end of March, allows you to challenge it on four distinct tracks, each with different car categories. Don’t worry though: if you think you won’t be able to beat GT Sophy, know that it’s possible to calibrate its difficulty, calling it to compete with less performing machines than yours.
You can also challenge a single opponent driven by the AI and with your own car, for a truly exciting competition. If at the beginner and intermediate levels victory is affordable, at the expert level and above all in one-on-one you will have to know your vehicle best and, above all, the reference track, otherwise you will not be able to do anything but enjoy reading the license plate of GT Sophy’s car before it disappears over the horizon. Although at the moment the AI can only be tackled on specific circuits and with pre-selected cars, its behavior on the track really bodes well.
Forget about the notorious little trains of cars unable to overtake each other: the creature of Polyphony Digital and Sony AI will give life to epic clashes and fights at the last braking point. To give GT Sophy an extra touch of personality, the developers have allowed her to react to what is happening around her with smileys. When she manages to overtake us, for example, she will laugh at us and when she is rear-ended she will not fail to express her disappointment with her. In general, net of the limitations of this first contact with artificial intelligence, its potential already appears incredible.
In fact, they promise a future in which single player Gran Turismo competitions will be able to generate the same adrenaline as those in multiplayer. Insiders will clearly have to teach Sophy how to handle the cars in different conditions – think of wet asphalt or dirt – and during longer events, which require more pit stops for example. The great revolution promised by AI also has clear educational value. After each match it is also possible to view the replays from Sophy’s point of view, so as to be able to study the ideal lines to follow during the competitions. After looking at their inputs, we realized that they weren’t handled in a “mechanical” way. In fact, artificial intelligence is able to choke the brakes and accelerator pedals in bends to better stabilize the car, optimizing entry trajectories and maximizing exit speed. Furthermore, during the tests we were able to see how Sophy can make small mistakes, for example in the famous 130R curve of Suzuka or when entering some hairpin bends. It is not clear whether these oversights are intended or not, but they certainly contribute to making this machine seem as human as possible, making any defeat even more bitter to digest.
While waiting for more certain news on what the complete implementation of this advanced AI will be within the experience, we can already underline a first valuable fact. With GT Sophy the series could put an end to those CPU limits that by now clashed with the motto of “Real Driving Simulator” and go even further. In fact, his could become the most exciting single-player racing competitions ever.
From a content point of view, patch 1.29 adds Grand Valley Highway, a historic track featured in various titles in the series and five new racing cars. The track has been revisited both in terms of aesthetics and layout and, in this new guise, some sections of the classic circuit have been combined with existing locations located on the Californian coast.
The new map features four different configurations and a 1,200,000 credits Track Experience (provided you get all gold) to be tackled in the Nissan GT-R Gr3. All in all, the conformation made up of wide roads, fluid chicanes and hairpin bends to be covered at medium speeds, is guessed. However, we point out some penalties relating to track limits, perhaps too severe. Moving on to enrich the already vast fleet of cars, three historic 1960s models and two ItalDesign VGT concept cars were added. Given their fluctuating performance, the two prototypes are the worst part of the package, while – fortunately – the discourse related to the triptych of old glories is quite different.
The Porsche 911 Carrera RS and the Citroen DS Pallas are two fantastic collector’s jewels, while the Honda RA272 proved to be an authentic gem in the hand. The iconic shape of a crushed cigar, the transversal engine capable of delivering 230 HP and running at 12,000 rpm and the countless liveries already made available to the community – including that of the historic Lotus F1 of those years – make this racing car very pleasant to drive.
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