Driving a car effectively is a two way thing. It's as much about your input - your stomping on the brake pedal, or your tugging wildly at the wheel - as it is the output of the car and all that it's telling you at any given point. It's what amounts to that near-indefinable 'seat of the pants' feeling that's integral to driving well - the way every bump of the road finds its way to your derriere, or how amidst all those vibrations you can tune into the individual knocks and scrapes. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to have experienced a major mechanical failure, you'll likely be familiar with how your car served up subtle warning signs well before things went truly south.
When translating all that into a racing game, there's only ever really one point of contact as opposed to the all-encompassing feel of being in a car, where those vibrations and sensations are translated through all that plastic and metal you're sitting in. With a racing game, it tends to just be the piece of plastic that's in your hand that does all the talking, which is what makes it such an important piece of any set-up.
If you've been lucky enough to race with a Direct Drive wheel - which are thankfully much more affordable now thanks to Fanatec's mid-tier efforts, though still expect to pay north of £500 for a complete package - you'll know the difference the extra fidelity of feedback brings. I got my first DD late last year, and it's not too much of an overstatement to say it's been transformative.
And now along comes the DualSense, which is just as transformative in its own way and not quite as costly (if you can find yourself a PS5, of course). We got a taste of its potential at the launch of the PlayStation 5 with KT Racing's WRC9 which gave it a fairly good workout, but its implementation in Gran Turismo 7 is something else entirely. Each car's brake has its own weight, in accordance with the real thing - slam down the anchors on a ride with ABS and you'll feel it pulsing and modulating the pads under your fingers as it works to avoid a lock-up, and do so in a car without and you'll feel the tire scudding over the surface.
It works for the accelerator too, a tangible breaking of traction felt via the trigger when you're spinning up the rear wheels (something that happens quite a bit in Gran Turismo 7 where it's possible to strap a turbocharger on a humble sportscar and that can have you experiencing wheelspin all the way up to 4th gear). It's something that truly comes alive in the wet weather events, where you'll feel the splash of puddles passing under and that terrifying moment when the wheels free themselves from the road and you're aquaplaning out of control.
It's a revelation, frankly, and in tandem with Gran Turismo 7's outstanding visuals and 3D audio it makes for a driving sensation that's unparalleled on console. Here's a game that acquits itself well enough on a wheel - and on a DD it feels just fantastic, once you've dialled it in a bit - but also one that feels almost as rewarding when playing on a pad thanks to all that DualSense magic. It's a talkative little thing, which is just what you want when engaging in the dialogue that's at the heart of all great racing games.
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