When Gran Turismo 7 was announced as a cross-generation release for both PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, some fans were disappointed the game would be curtailed so as to not take full advantage of the newer hardware. Most people who want PS5s still can’t get them, so a PS4 release was necessary to get the game into as many people’s hands as possible. Which is good in the long run, because GT7 happens to be a great game that anyone with a passing interest in cars should definitely check out.
In the lead up to release I was very curious how Polyphony Digital would manage to pull off the last-gen versions — not just for PS4 Pro, but base PS4 as well. GT7 has a lot going on — certainly a lot more than GT Sport, due to its dynamic time and weather simulations. Something had to give. Thanks to Digital Foundry’s recent side-by-side tech analysis, we have a very good idea of what had to be scrapped or changed to ensure a smooth driving experience on older platforms.
The simple answer is resolution, but you likely knew that already. I played both the PS5 and PS4 versions of GT7 on my PS5, and it’s impossible to miss how much sharper the PS5 version is, as it runs at native 4K rather than the checkerboard construction the PS4 Pro implements. Of course, loading times are exponentially shorter on PS5, resulting in almost no wait for races. Seriously: It’s just a flash lots of the time, maybe three or four seconds in the worst-case scenario.
But GT7's worst quality — its always-online nature — actually benefitted this study, as it enabled Digital Foundry’s John Linneman and Alex Battaglia to present the exact same replay data across multiple revisions of PlayStation hardware for a seamless comparison. As you can see, the PS5's power normally presents with far more detailed foliage and trackside assets; smoother edges with better anti-aliasing; more defined, precise shadows that render in full fidelity at longer distances; and higher quality car models, particularly for the computer-controlled vehicles the player is racing against.
In single frames, maybe it’s hard to tell a difference. But when switched back and forth, it becomes obvious why the PS5 version looks better. Toss in a dash of motion blur to dial up the sense of speed, and voilà: you’re looking at a new-gen product.
Still, the PS4 version performs admirably on older hardware, and the fact Polyphony was able to get the game onto a nine-year-old console in a comparable — if far from perfect — rendition is something that should be celebrated. Because it means everyone can enjoy GT7, a game that is about spreading the joy of cars to everyone.