08 October 2019 (released)
12 October 2019
Racers are a dime a dozen nowadays but people like me can’t get enough of it. Racing fans enjoy the spectacle, the possibilities new dynamics and all those lovely cars to crash and ride. The Grid series has always had its loyal fan base and over the years has survived while others like Ridge Racer and Burnout have fallen. Yet it’s never claimed that high spot such as Forza. But things could well change with the Codemaster’s revival simply known as Grid. Can it blend elements of arcade style racing with hints of professionalism with the presentation and attention to detail? Let’s see shall we?
As mentioned before, racers have a way to excel in terms of cleaver mechanics and excellent presentation. With the right developer, a racing game can look miles better than any AAA shooter and implement gameplay dynamics which often inspire others to borrow a few ideas. Forza Horizon 4 showed us that driving a fully living and breathing world, where the seasons change and your skills would adapt along with them made for a compelling and exciting driving experience.
Grid decides to play it safe but goes full out in terms of style and content. In terms of presentations, Grid has some things which are great and others which are sadly lacking. Competing against other heavy weights in the genre, Grid does a good job in terms of visuals with full praise going to the highly detailed destruction on vehicles and the cinematic edge during certain events. It does lack certain features in presentation which Gran Turismo and Forza have excelled at, but the attention to detail in cars and the damage they take is impressive. I did experience quite a few stutters and frame rate drops during the CGI cinematics which were very noticeable. I can’t say if this will happen to all and testing on both an Xbox One and Xbox One X, we did come across some small bumps during particular cut scenes.
But the core of the game is pretty damn solid, with the developer packing in a whole heap of races and events to keep you going. Looking upon the number of races there were I was pretty excited to dive right in. With dozens and dozens of races ready to test your skills at, what kind of gearhead (not the Rick and Morty type) wouldn’t be drooling at the mouth! Plus there’s a good variation of races to embark upon. One of my favourites are the long sprints, where you run laps around a large track for 6 or so laps and do your best to take lead and keep it! Its intense stuff.
But there enough here to keep all types of racers something to enjoy. The driving mechanics are also pretty tight and easy enough for new comers to come along, learn and master.
However I found that Grid does throw all players in the deep end right from the get go, with very little ground to learn the rules whether basic or more advanced. There is a rewind mechanic which does help in lessening the learning curve but there are plenty of races where the design of the tracks are extremely difficult to learn and manoeuvre for even some veteran players. It feels like you have no chance unless you do a Hot lap, earn a top spot (ideally 1st, 2nd and 3rd), start the race in that position and never lose it. It is a little frustrating as recovering or even taking the lead in some races is near impossible and the AI can be ultra-aggressive if you do too well. That said, Grid does give you enough tools to ensure you can earn top spot, via the hot lap or using the rewind mechanic to ensure if another racer over takes you, you can plan and disrupt their move.
But does this mean the driving is at fault? No of course not. Grid does a fantastic job at creating a game with a high level of refinery towards driving. Keeping things rather simple so that again like mentioned before, newbies can come along and enjoy. While professions can master and earn the top spots they so desire. It is really that some tracks are just a little tedious and from the get go there are quite a few which prove pretty tough, even on a hot lap!
There are some mechanics which aren’t explained all that well, such as team mates. Which is a neat idea as you can engage with them to defend their position or go for the top spot. So if you’re still getting the hang of things, you can at least rely on your AI partners. They’re usually pretty good but again the tedious, ill designed tracks prove troublesome as responses and action are often ignored due to some heavy restrictions.
In an ocean of racing games, it’s difficult to ensure your game can sail above the water. But Codemasters have done a grand job with Grid and brought back a series from the depths of the ocean and have it sailing fine against the strong currents. (Okay, from driving to sailing is an odd mix!) But Grid is an excellent racer and while suffering from some dodgy tracks, being thrown in the deep end at times and lack of information at times don’t hindered what is otherwise an extremely enjoyable game.
++ Beautiful presentation (for the most part)
+ Immense amount of content (races, cars and extras)
- Some flaws in presentation
- Steep learning curve
An Xbox One review copy of Grid was provided by the publishers for the purpose of this review.