Just days away from the release of the highly anticipated Gran Turismo 7, it’s finally time to look back on Polyphoy Digital’s long franchise history. A mainstay of first-party PlayStation studios, the Japanese developer is one of Sony’s most important assets, and each new installment of Gran Turismo is a small event in itself not only for lovers of rubber that crunches the asphalt, but also of techos who scrutinize each pixel to see the technical progress of graphics, generation after generation.
Here’s our ranking of the franchise’s best episodes, from worst (even if it’s all good to go) to best.
5. Gran Turismo PSP
OK, it may sound crazy, but you have to put it in context: Polyphony Digital has managed to fit a game into a single small UMD (and 1GB of data) Gran Turismo complete, with more than 800 different vehicles, 45 circuits and all the management of physics that is incumbent on the games of the franchise; all at no less than 60 frames per second. For the technical exploit alone, the title deserves its place.
4. Gran Turismo 2
We’re going to be purists, but Gran Turismo 2 still represents a certain idea of the car game, very different from that of today. Where modern simulations do in the plethora of gifts all the time, the second episode of the PlayStation offered a slower, more sustained and addictive progression where the rewards of the skill arrived only drop by drop, like a just gratification after so much effort, steering wheel in hand. Another way of seeing the virtual race, in short. And what music…
3. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
Nothing was the same when it arrived: bigger, better looking, stronger than all the competition, nothing came close to the third episode when it launched in 2001. From gameplay to car models to management of light, nothing seemed more realistic at the time, more visceral than Gran Turismo 3. And that only one year after the launch of the PlayStation 2, enough to command respect.
2. Gran Turismo 6
After a controversial fifth opus, Gran Turismo 6 had to reconnect with the fans. With fierce competition from Microsoft’s Forza, Polyphony Digital had to redouble its efforts for this true sign of the PlayStation 3: the title then arrived in 2013, just after the formalization of the PlayStation 4. But ignoring the problems of generation, Gran Turismo 6 shone with its realism, its massive collection of vehicles (more than 1200 cars) and its improved career mode.
1. Gran Turismo 4
What other episode than the fourth to complete this ranking? It all seemed so oversized when it first came to us in 2005, just two years before the launch of the next console generation – and yet the title hasn’t aged a bit in all those years. Gran Turismo 4 introduced the famous B-Spec mode, now essential, which put the player in the shoes of a team leader, or even the photo mode to take advantage of the exceptional modeling of vehicles for the time. Even the console was entering its 5th year of existence at the time, Gran Turismo 4 was already riding far, far ahead of the others.