The Best Gran Turismo Game Revolutionized the Racing Game Genre

The best Gran Turismo game is the one that really revolutionized the genre. It's a true testament to what this franchise could do

By Jason Collins | Updated

best gran turismo game

The long-awaited Gran Turismo 7 launched yesterday (March 4, 2022), and the reviewers are already praising the game for its graphics, better sound, and better physics — courtesy of the current-gen gaming hardware and hard work and dedication of Polyphony Digital. However, the new game also came with a few downsides; according to VGC, the game is plagued by clunky menus and endlessly dull dialogues. In short, it brought nothing revolutionary to the genre except better graphics and better driving physics — more than enough to satisfy racing game fans, sure. But is it worth being called the best Gran Turismo Game? Unfortunately, the answer is “No.”

According to the Metacritic ratings, countless gamers over three decades old, and in our humble opinion, the original 1997’s Gran Turismo video game is still the best game of the series. It currently has 96/100 points on Metacritic, a whole point higher than the universally acclaimed Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec from 2001, and whole eight points more than the latest addition to the franchise, which currently sits at 88/100 on Metacritic. However, please note that Gran Turismo 7 released one day ago, and the more complete reviews by the fans still haven’t consolidated into a reliable score.

The reason why the original Gran Turismo remains the best Gran Turismo game is simple: it’s hard to forget or supersede a game that showed the world that racing games could still have a more serious tone to them and still be fun and accessible. In short, Gran Turismo was the game that started it all, the first true racing simulator that pulled racing games from the clutches of obsolete arcade games and made them a proper gaming genre we know today. Don’t get us wrong, arcade racing games were awesome in the mid-80s, but in the late 90s, they were good for about half an hour of fun, or until you run out of change.

Gran Turismo, which took five years to develop, was released for the original PlayStation in 1997, and it was the one gamers could enjoy on their gaming consoles for hundreds of hours and still want more — that’s how revolutionary it was. Compared to other racing sim games on the contemporary market, 1997’s Gran Turismo had all the hallmarks of a revolutionary game: superb graphics, great sound quality, great driving physics, a nice car collection, and an unforgettable soundtrack. Everything about the game was cutting edge. Everything about the best Gran Turismo game was cutting edge, and all that came before it was complete nonsense.

Fast forward to 2022, and its graphics are now considered a polygonal soup by today’s standards, handling subpar, car selection is old, and the soundtrack can be found on the “Oldies but Goldies” radio. But it’s still important to note that the success of an entire franchise is built upon the racing game in which the brake button wasn’t just for decoration; you actually had to use it from time to time. The best Gran Turismo game was a class act, and it raised the bar for racing games on almost every possible level. It was even declared the best driving game in 2017, twenty years after its original release.

In the end, it’s no wonder why the original Gran Turismo from 1997 is still considered the best Gran Turismo game. It’s the second-most influential racing game of all time, second only to 1982’s Pole Position, and the grandfather to all modern console racing sims. And sure, the new games might be better looking and have better physics and nicer cars. But you can’t beat the original idea, and the original Gran Turismo was truly groundbreaking. So much so that it even influenced Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed franchise, whose first release came out a few years prior.

Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely for the best Gran Turismo game to get a remake, even in an era devoid of original thought such as this one. Polyphony Digital launches two new installments per console generation, and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll take a step back to remake the original, especially considering the dual release of GT7, which is unprecedented in the series. Its availability on the PlayStation Now service remains to be seen, considering the level of changes Sony’s introducing to its subscription service, but it would be fun to revisit this game, nevertheless. Dust off that old PlayStation console.