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Gran Turismo Sport is HDR's killer app

Gran Turismo has rightfully earned a reputation across the years in pushing the limits of console technology, and after some unconvincing early betas, GT Sport looks like delivering another phenomenal technological masterclass. Earlier this week, Sony unleashed a massive demo version, allowing players to sample a wide variety of events and features. It’s opportunity for an early glimpse at near-final code and it’s especially impressive for users with high dynamic range displays. Many games benefit from HDR, but with GT Sport, the upgrade is so pronounced and so beautiful, you’re clearly not getting the full experience without it.

The majority of our gameplay took place on PlayStation 4 Pro using its high resolution mode – which remains a checkerboarded 1800p presentation with a native 4K user interface. The results aren’t as crisp as other PS4 Pro titles or indeed Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One X, but it’s still a gorgeous looking game in motion and the Pro showcases GT Sport and HDR at its best.

GT Sport offers a remarkable level of detail in every facet of the presentation. The move to PlayStation 4 means that materials, textures and lighting are all amped up beyond what was previously possible. In making the leap to physically-based rendering, the game features more realistic surfaces and objects throughout its environments and across the lineup of cars. Textures are much sharper and more realistic as a result even up-close. The game retains a sense of scale that no other sim racer can quite match – the way its environments stretch out into the distance create the illusion of a large world.

But more than anything else, it’s the support for high dynamic range that has left us most impressed. Some games utilise HDR well but clearly, not all implementations are created equal, and many fall short. Gran Turismo has always been a series created to push the boundaries of technology so it’s no surprise that HDR plays a huge role in its presentation. And in a world where so many HDR screens offers such a wide-ranging experience, Polyphony Digital is to be commended for its set-up process.