GRID, the latest racing game from Codemasters, is roaring onto consoles on October 11th (October 8th if you pre-ordere). Not sure who Codemasters are? They are the geniuses behind such celebrated franchises as F1 and DIRT as well as a number of other racing titles. Having been around for over thirty years I’d say it’s a safe bet they know a thing or two about video game racing. But enough about them. You’re here to see if I think GRID is worth putting your foot down and taking to the track.
They say it’s a racing experience like no other. They say it offers unrivalled wheel to wheel racing with thrilling moment to moment battles. Well you know what? If your going to talk the talk you’d best walk the walk. Let’s see how GRID really stacks up.
First off, the game looks gorgeous. GRID probably has the best lighting effects I’ve seen so far in a racing game, especially if you’re using one of the interior camera views. The sunlight streaming through the windshield can be blinding at times. Coupled with the glare of the light reflecting up from the dash on the inside of the glass, it can be very difficult to see down the road. The rain effects are next level too. I love how the water smears across the windshield with the wipers on. Cityscapes at night are breathtaking, and when the fireworks explode you can see them illuminate the clouds of smoke in a realistic manner.
Some courses are familiar, as they have appeared often in other racing franchises, but the variety on hand has enough new roadways to keep the racing feeling new and fresh. Some of the courses and locations are actually very reminiscent of some often requested tracks from other franchises that for some reason or other haven’t made it back into their line up. It’s almost as if the developers have been listening to the fans of those franchises and said “If they aren’t listening to their fans then we will”. A very smart move if you ask me.
Sound wise, I think Codemasters have nailed it. From the track announcers echoing over the loudspeakers to the sounds of the cars themselves it feels like an authentic racetrack experience, audibly speaking. I might say that the tires squealing can be a bit much sometimes but you get used to it. The menu music is your standard ambient soundtrack. There is no music during races, though that’s fine by me.
Gameplay features a fair amount of adjustability. One can go from a distinct arcade feel to almost a full on sim through various difficulty adjustments and assists. This really makes the game accessible and enjoyable for casual and hardcore sim racers alike. Codemasters have really put the focus on the actual racing and it shows. The AI in the game are better than a lot of human players I know (cough*MarkSherwood*cough) and they can be just as dirty if pressed. Codemasters have developed a pool of about 400 distinct driver personalities from hyper aggressive to passive and driver’s will adjust their driving lines around the track accordingly. It was nice to see the AI be equally aggressive to each other and not just me. It made the single player experience feel like it was more than just me on the track. I had the AI set to Hard as the default Medium difficulty was just a bit too easy in my opinion. But on Hard difficulty I would race as best as I could and finish anywhere from first to sixteenth. That’s because of Codemasters incredible AI and their obvious focus on the actual racing. It almost ensures that all cars in a race will be competitive from start to finish so even the tiniest mistake can be quite costly. I once fell from first to sixteenth in one lap because of two turns that I executed poorly.
Multiplayer almost feels like second fiddle in comparison if only because of the inevitable crash fest in the first corner. That’s not to say that multiplayer isn’t fun. Grid does have a penalty system for those that like to cut corners making it worth hanging in there to the end of the race just to see those penalties boost you from a ninth place finish up to fifth. Still not a podium, but satisfying just the same.
Now because of the extreme focus on racing there really isn’t much in the way of customization here. You won’t find a parts store to install various upgrades as they pretty much want all the cars in each class to remain comparatively equal. That’s why the racing is so competitive. There is a small bit of tuning however, through the use of various sliders to make a number of adjustments. While you can customize the livery of your car, it’s nothing as complex or detailed as the likes of Forza. A number of pre-designed paint schemes are unlockable. From these you can customize the color set with a pallette similar to Forza and turn sponsor decals on or off. That’s about it as far as customization goes.
The different game modes you have to choose from are Free Race, Career, and Multiplayer. In Free Race you can run a single race or create your own series. You’re in charge of everything from the car class, number of cars in the race, time of day and weather conditions, how many laps (up to 99), and a number of other options. Career is the main portion of the game where you progress through the different classes right up to the GRID World Series. The AI in this mode is actually quite fun and challenging to race against. The various personalty traits assigned to each driver really make each race unpredictable as some will let you by and others will fight hard to stay ahead. Bump somebody around to much or take them out, you better watch out because they will try for revenge. If they manage to get it, be sure that every other driver in the race will try to capitalize. Multiplayer is Multiplayer. You have Quickmatch which throws you int random lobbies and Private match which allows you to invite other players and set every race up to your standards. Much like Free Race you choose laps, car class, etcetera.
So, is GRID the perfect racer? I have to say it comes close. It definitely checks off a lot of the boxes that I look for in a game. There may be a few features from other titles that I would have loved for Codemasters to have borrowed from but that’s a moot point. The car count is decent, the locales are gorgeously rendered, the audio is spot on, track layouts are interesting, and the racing at higher difficulty levels is incredibly intense. I would have liked to be able to set the length of the race in Career mode as I feel the races are a bit short but that’s probably the only gripe I have with this game. If video racing is your thing do yourself a favor and pick this up. Right now.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.