"If everything is under control you are just not driving fast enough"
-Sir Stirling Moss
Welcome to GRID, Codemasters' latest offering of motor sport erotica, this time dropping the TOCA branding in favour of dipping into the pools of racing from all over the world.
To begin with I must state that this title has not been designed to be a petrol head's dream where you can alter practically every part of your car to find that extra 0.001th of a second around the track, nor is it a veritable encyclopaedia of internal combustion. In fact the number of cars available is around 45 in total, with no form of tuning or modification possible in the game. As Codemasters put it "it's all about the race".
On the menu screen you will see the usual selection of options, multiplayer along with race day and grid world. Race day allows you to set up single races on the track you want to race on, with the car you wish to drive, setting up the number of laps etc, then getting on with the job. For example if you wished to you can set up a true 24 hour jaunt around Le Mans but let's face it who on earth would actually want to sit for 24 hours driving around Sarthe?
Grid world is your single player career mode, where you start out in the seat of a Dodge Viper with 1 lap just to finish the race, doing so rewards you with your rookie license. Now don't expect this to be a cake walk, as I can pretty much guarantee that you will crash on your first few attempts as the handling of each car in this game differs vastly. Also the handling itself is geared towards a more arcade like feel rather than a simulation. After completing the race and gaining your license you are greeted with your first garage, complete with an annoying American mechanic along with his annoying American business accountant who looks after your winnings allowing you to concentrate on winning races. You start off with a broken Ford Mustang Boss 302, to which you need to earn £40,000 until it becomes race worthy.
As you have no cars to race with you begin by driving for other teams, earning a couple of thousand for the drive with the chance of earning extra if you achieve their target for that race. This varies from finishing the race in X position to finishing the race ahead of rival team Y. This will be done for a couple of seasons as to be honest, driving for other teams isn't the best form of income due to poor pay cheques.
At the end of each season, normally after around 4 races, you get the opportunity to race at the world renowned Circuit de la Sarthe for 24 hours of Le Mans. But don't worry you won't actually be driving for 24 hours, in actuality the race lasts 12 minutes so for you of a mathematical persuasion you would have deduced that 30 seconds real time equates to 1 hour of race time, but during this 24 hour race you do still get a day/night cycle and driving at night on a track you aren't too sure of, especially on your first couple of seasons is a nerve wracking task. You have the option to drive for another team, enter your own team or skip Le Mans, but I highly recommend racing it either for someone else or your own merit as the prize purse for 1st place is rather tasty indeed, and adds a nice chunk of funds to your bank balance.
Ok so we've fixed our broken car and now our team is ready to race, time to start earning the big bucks. There are 3 main regions to race in: American, European and Japanese locales. Each region hosting various championships ranging from the usual circuit affairs for touring cars, muscle cars, pro tuned street cars to formula 3 and LMP1 class open seat cars.
An interesting addition to the game is the introduction of the Touge event found in the Japanese leagues. This consists of 2 cars going head to head in a 2 leg race against each other. Contact is strictly forbidden; you will suffer a time penalty if you are the chasing car making contact with the lead car, which could make you lose the race. The winner is determined by your overall time over the 2 legs. The first leg you start off with a slight lead going down a twisty Japanese mountain road while second leg starts you slightly behind your opponent going back up the road.
It's a nice change of pace from the usual circuit affair and with the strict no contact rule there is more emphasis on trying to pass your opponent cleanly which at times is not exactly an easy task, especially in the early stages of your career when your Mustang is up against a pro tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Each championship win will gain you much needed cash along with reputation for that racing body. For example complete a championship in the ARL gains you reputation with them which contributes towards a pro license with them. Each new license opens up new events with bigger prize purses, but usually means spending more cash on buying a car which is eligible to race in the event. Alongside this you also gain sponsors from winning championships, which also generates income when you complete their requirements in each race, ranging from finishing the race to finishing no lower than 1st.
Your team can have up to eight sponsors in total, 1 major and 7 minor. The major sponsor slot doubles their cash reward when completing the requirement, so think carefully which sponsor you wish to place in that slot.
Right so now we're out on the track with AI drivers who aren't autonomous like Gran Turismo and just methodically stick to the racing line except to overtake. Your opponents here will drive aggressively, jostle for position, misjudge lines making mistakes or spinning off, and if needs be will nudge you out the way, normally resulting in a trip into gravel city. Or if you're unlucky you might receive a high speed shunt which inexorably will lead to a hefty crash either crippling or writing off your shiny car.
But do not fret for "Flashback" is your friend. This feature allows you to rewind a few seconds of your race, say moments before you get smacked into the barrier of failure. Press the magical button and you're placed back in your driving seat in a fully working car again, meaning you can take an emergency action to avoid the crash. So you can have a laugh at the odd spectacular crash, viewing it from a multitude of angles before finally rewinding to the safe point to try again.
Do not try to rely on this marvellous race saving device of flux capacitor like goodness as you are limited to the number of uses, which is dependant on difficulty level you choose. The higher the difficulty level the number of uses reduces, but to offset this the reputation and cash gained from winning increases, so finding the right balance is key to success. A steering wheel would be a wise choice of peripheral to get the best from the game, failing that then a game pad with analogue sticks should suffice.
It would also have been nice to have been able to save and share replays amongst friends. Say you have a rather vicious crash with 3 other cars and the resulting aftermath looks like a scene from destruction derby the musical, it would have been nice to save that crash then go to little Michael O' Hooligan or Patricia O' Violence on your favourite messenger software and go "look at this, I've just created carnage". Then you both can merrily enjoy the twisted metal.
Visually the game looks good, it looks really good. All the cars are accurately modelled and all the locales and scenery look great which adds to the overall impressiveness of the game. The car damage seems pretty much unrivalled as you can, if you wanted, destroy the entire car. Nudges and shunts will dent body work, pop windows etc. but won't affect the performance or handling too much. Heavier crashes will start to affect your wheels, steering, gearing, engine, braking and radiator systems which can reduce your cars performance making it more difficult to reach that top step of the podium, so again emphasis on trying to keep contact to a minimum weighs in your overall racing style.
The overall look of the game has a gritty grimy feel to it, instead of a clinical polished look other racers have. This I personally feel gives GRID more appeal than other racing titles. Granted there aren't as many cars to drive or tracks to race on but everything works so nicely together. Overall Codemasters has created another winner and it is a title I highly recommend in getting.
Race Driver: Grid (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
"If everything is under control you are just not driving fast enough"-Sir Stirling Moss Welcome to GRID, Codemasters' latest offering of motor sport erotica, this time dropping the TOCA branding in favour of dipping into the pools of racing from all over the world.