Through all the ups and downs that Sony’s first party output has seen since the early days of the original PlayStation, there’s one franchise that has stuck around as a mainstay and a pillar for the company, enjoying unwavering success with most of its outings. Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo has been a trailblazer for as long as it’s been around, and now that it has made a triumphant return with the recently released Gran Turismo 7, we, and many others, have been thinking back on the celebrated series’ incredible history, and how it has progressed as time has gone on. To that end, here, we’re going to rank every Gran Turismo game till date from worst to best- though even at its worst, this series has had more to offer than most other in the genre.
#9. GRAN TURISMO (PSP)
Gran Turismo’s portable debut (and to date, its only portable outing) didn’t arrive easily, and though those many years of development and delays didn’t result in the stellar quality that this series is generally known for, Gran Turismo for the PSP was by no means a slouch. Offering surprisingly realistic visuals (for its time, and for the hardware, if nothing else), tight simulation and driving mechanics, and a healthy roster of vehicles to choose from, the portable racing sim made a strong impression on most who played it. There were clear issues, of course, with the lack of upgrades and a traditional career mode being chief among them, but even so, it was a solid taste of Polyphony Digital’s series on the go.
#8. GRAN TURISMO 6
Gran Turismo 6 arrived smack dab in the middle of the biggest lull the series has experienced to date- and it showed. It did, of course, excel in all the ways that a GT game is expected to- it had a sizeable roster of vehicles, was brimming with its love for detail, authenticity, and attention to detail, and as always, its driving mechanics were second to none. Some questionable decisions, however, dragged the experience down in unfortunate ways, from its iffy microtransactions to its unnecessary focus on multiplayer gameplay.
#7. GRAN TURISMO 5
Gran Turismo 5 was where the series’ downward trajectory began (and lasted until not that long ago). Arriving after a long and protracted development cycle, GT5 was far, far from a bad game, and like pretty much every other game on this list, it’s still probably one of the best racing sims we’ve ever played, at least where its driving and sim mechanics are concerned, while its incredibly vast offerings in terms of features, tracks, and vehicles were mighty impressive. But with a half-assed damage system, frustrating progression in its career mode, and surprisingly little improvements being made over its direct predecessor, Gran Turismo 5, for all of its excellence, didn’t quite live up to expectations.
#6. GRAN TURISMO SPORT
Gran Turismo Sport remains one of the most controversial and divisive games in Polyphony Digital’s series- and looking back at the state it was in at launch, it’s not surprising to see why. There was no shortage of core issues with the game, its overriding emphasis on online multiplayer being chief among them, especially since it came at the cost of a traditional single player experience. The fact that the game launched with a disappointingly small selections of tracks and vehicles didn’t much help matters either. Sure, Polyphony Digital’s post-launch support did eventually turn GT Sport into a far better game than it was when it launched, but it was still far from the game series fans wanted it to be.
#5. GRAN TURISMO 2
Gran Turismo 2 is, in essence, the prime example of a perfect iterative sequel. Following up on its revolutionary predecessor was by no means an easy task, but Polyphony Digital chose to do it in the best way possible- by expanding on all the biggest strengths of the first game. More cars, more tracks, a better physics engine. There’s an argument to be made that perhaps its unambitious nature as a sequel held it back from being as memorable as the first game was, but if all you’re talking about is execution of ideas, there’s little to dislike here.
#4. GRAN TURISMO
The one that started it all. In pretty much every way, the original Gran Turismo has been thoroughly outdone by its many successors, but given the game’s significance, you can’t help but respect it. For its time, it was an absolutely revelation. It looked amazing, it controlled like a dream, it was brimming with an impressive roster of modes, cars, and tracks, and above all else, it established ideas and mechanics that have by now become staples not only of the series, but an entire genre.
#3. GRAN TURISMO 4
Now that we’re in the top 3, there’s very, very little separating the three games that are left, and there’s a strong case to be made for each of these three being the definitive Gran Turismo experience. Gran Turismo 4 is, for many people, still one of the best racing games out there. It’s the quintessential GT game, with excellent driving and physics, best-in-class visuals, and oodles of content to keep players busy for dozens upon dozens of hours. Not everything in the game was equally fleshed out, but there was more than enough here to impress even the most cynical players.
#2. GRAN TURISMO 7
Gran Turismo had been in a bit of a slump of form since the launch of GT5, with the multiplayer-centric GT Sport being something of a nadir for the series, so there was a great deal riding on Gran Turismo 7. It pretty much had to be a return to form- and boy did it succeed in doing that. For fans of the series, the genre, and car culture in general, this game is a dream come true. Its single player component is densely packed and ingeniously structured, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, and the level of authenticity and realism displayed here just blows you away. It’s also probably the most approachable game in the series in a long, long time, so it may very well bring in a massive audience- even by Gran Turismo standards.
#1. GRAN TURISMO 3: A-SPEC
It’s hard to top Gran Turismo 3. It is, in every sense of the word, an unabashed masterpiece. It may not have been overflowing with content the way something like Gran Turismo 2 was, or Gran Turismo 7 now is, but the game’s biggest strength lay elsewhere- in how focused and tightly designed it was. Its roster of vehicles was full of cars that felt amazing to control, it had some of the best-designed tracks this series has ever had, and for its time, it looked unbelievably amazing. It’s not just the best Gran Turismo game, it may very well even be the best racing game ever made, period.