Codemasters are back with a new addition to the GRiD franchise, having taken a five year hiatus to concentrate on other efforts such as the F1 series, and their tough-as-nails DiRT Rally 2.0. GRID, however, has always aimed to offer something different in the world of motorsport related titles, aiming to allow those of all ability levels to thrash around some virtual tracks on four wheels without worrying about hitting apexes or pit-stop strategies.
From the get-go, it’s clear that the game isn’t going up against the likes of Assetto Corsa or Forza Motorsport in relation to car-handling. It’s just as viable to send a car around a corner sideways and still come out on top as it is to aim for the apex. In fact, it’s even encouraged as the game will bestow you with experience points for doing so.
The career mode opens by placing you into three different scenarios which introduce you to the announcers you’ll hear throughout as well as showing you the variation of the cars on offer. After that, you’ll be testing your mettle against various different series of races, ranging from lower-powered touring cars, through some meaty muscle cars up to terrifying open-wheelers which can easily get caught up with the other racers, leaving you pointing the wrong way into oncoming traffic. There’s no predefined path per se through the career mode, allowing you to concentrate on working through one class of car at a time, though the invitational series will dot you around classes.
You also have the ability to order your teammate around, with varying results. Your options are to ask them to push up for a new position, or to start hanging back and defending their current one more aggressively. This can be beneficial when you’re fighting up the grid - and need some insurance that those behind you aren’t going to ruin things. Though sometimes, it’s just not a viable tactic for your teammate to pull off, and they’ll let you know. Based on the difficulty you choose, the AI will either be a breeze to get past, or absolutely ruthless. Cutting you off in a corner, defending against your attempts to pass on a straight and being an all round nuisance to your progression. But if you start taking it to them, jostling with their paintwork for position, you’ll garner yourself a nemesis. And they’ll really make it known that they’re up for getting in your way.
Graphically, the EGO engine looks stunning, especially when paired up with HDR. The fanfare that goes on around the side of the tracks really gives an air of life to the races, adding to the feeling that there are living breathing people there watching the events unfold, an aspect that tends to be lacking from other motorsport games in that, there’s a crowd there, but very rarely do you notice them, unlike in GRID. It’s strange how much the odd flash of a spectator’s camera can do to add to the overall ambience. Audio cues tie into that ambience, in the brief interludes between listening to your car engine roar out a tune, you’ll hear the crowd - especially on the street circuits. You’ll also catch overtones of the race announcers as they keep the crowd in the loop on how the race is progressing.
It was genuinely a struggle to find something I didn’t like about GRID, leaving only a couple of seemingly nit-pickings than anything else. Some of the banners for the career events appeared to be pixelated, but that’s possibly just the way the game is resizing them internally. The glaring omission seems to be any kind of guided setup of your driver, which has become something of a staple in Codemaster’s games, so you’ll end up being “Player One” for a while until you spot it.
Overall, GRID is a title worthy of the franchise and should be in any arcade racing fan’s library. Taking what made the original GRID great and adding a touch of modernisation in terms of graphical fidelity has really made GRID shine amongst the sea of simulation-based motorsport titles. A breath of fresh air and a racing game that’s fun to pick up in both small and large doses, without the need to be a professional race driver in the process.
GRID (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
A fitting return to form for the GRiD franchise, especially given the five year gap since Autosport. Doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it’s a title anyone can pick up and play. Would be just as at home in an arcade cabinet as it is in the console under your TV or on your PC.