Saturday 17 August 2019

Gran Turismo Sport struggles to hit full throttle

Gran Turismo Sport (PS4) ★★★★ Age: 3+

Gran Turismo Sport
Gran Turismo Sport
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

From one extreme to another in four years. Gran Turismo 6 shipped in 2013 with 1,200 cars and almost 90 track layouts but its successor (which we shouldn't call GT7 but could anyway) manages just one-tenth of the vehicles and half the tracks.

If those were the only omissions, then the review could move rapidly to waxing lyrical about its peerless handling, visual perfection, discerning track selection and much-improved audio. But we need to highlight, too, the absence from GTS of a meaningful offline mode, dramatic weather shifts or even transitions from day to night.

Series creator Kazunori Yamauchi would doubtlessly argue such pruning achieves a laser-like focus on Gran Turismo's speciality: the realism of motor racing. But try telling that to fans stuck with lightweight single-player content and the lack of a broad range of cars (GT6 had a lunar buggy, for crying out loud). Yamauchi also plans to build on the solid foundations laid by the initial release over the coming months, adding content as he goes.

If you can swallow that pill, then GTS still has much to recommend it. Sure, the atmosphere feels slightly po-faced (you must watch five minutes of excruciating video about online sportsmanship before putting a wheel on the tarmac). But the depth of its love for the discipline of racing (the endless patience required, the mile-after-mile precision, the myriad combinations of car type versus track layout) shines through like a beacon.

The Evil Within 2

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+

Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami rebooted his survival-horror template for the original Evil Within in 2014. But the maestro's influence has ebbed here in the sequel, a moderately open-world chiller in which a detective enters a Matrix-style alternative reality to search for his missing daughter.

EW2 fixes some of the original's flaws - the odd letterbox presentation, for instance - while cribbing from genre masterpieces such as Twin Peaks and The Last of Us. It wallows in gore and doesn't stint on jump-scares or viscerally repulsive creatures. It feels like perfectly serviceable horror fodder but, over its 15-hour running time, it lacks a true element of surprise or originality.

Lego Ninjago

(PS4/XO/PC/Switch) ★★★ Age: 3+

A lesser-known light from the Lego stable nonetheless houses some innovative brick-smashing, enemy-bopping, platforming fun for the younger player. It ties in with a cinema release - and probably doesn't make much sense without seeing it - but resembles the umpteen other Lego crossover games.

Ninjago does have a style of its own, thanks to more involved combat and a wider range of character abilities. However, copious glitches and long, long loading times undermine its appeal for all but the most fanatical Ninjago acolytes.

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