Grid Legends is the first game in the Grid series to be published under the EA license since the company’s acquisition of developer Codemasters. And while it’s understandable why fans of the franchise would have concerns over the future of the series with a company like EA at the helm, let this be the review that squashes those qualms.
This is a game that was made with as much detail as any Codemasters title of the past, if not more. With the money and name of EA behind it, Grid Legends offers players the deepest and most enjoyable game in series history.
One thing I always seem to harp on with racing games is the ability to play with both a controller and a wheel. So many games struggle to get the feeling of controlling a car with a control right that it can make the game unplayable if you aren’t using a wheel. Grid Legends doesn’t have that problem. No matter how you want to play, the controls are responsive and the cars feel how they should. Nothing feels like you have an advantage one way or the other, depending on your assists of course.
Speaking of assists, the game offers a number of them to help you get into the action no matter your skill level. It’s nothing game changing that other racing games haven’t done before, but it’s always important to point out that no matter your ability, the game can be tailored to you.
Racing against the AI, though fun depending on your settings, can often feel like a crapshoot. Sometimes, they feel too easy to get around while other races they feel like nothing you do will get you by. And that’s with the assists and difficulty being the same for each race. It’s still an overall fun experience, but it takes a bit to find your sweet spot with the difficulty after you get the hang of things.
Once you get comfortable behind the wheel, you’ll see where Codemasters really shines with Grid Legends.
As you race through various events, you’ll earn credits which you can use to unlock and upgrade your cars and your team. In total there are over 120 cars available spanning nine classifications with each having a different feel to them. Electric vehicles feel drastically different from trucks, and everything in between. It’s one of the best aspects of current-day racing games: developers have gotten great at making every car feel unique. Grid Legends is no different.
Sticking with available cars, Grid Legends gives players a chance to try out cars at any time, even if they don’t own them. All cars are available to be loaned, which lets you drive the cars for a 50% reduction in rewards for that race. Also, you can’t customize any car you have on loan, nor do they count towards distance-driven achievements.
What is great, though, is no matter where you are driving your cars, it will accrue the goals you have for various upgrades. That means whether racing solo or online, you never have to worry about missing out on unlocks.
With the customization, there are a number of liveries to choose from when upgrading your car with options to show or hide sponsors. I would’ve liked a custom livery suite, but the options available certainly help keep cars looking fresh.
For those that like depth, Grid Legends offers quite a bit of it depending on your interests. For those who care about single player racing there are two main offerings: Career and the game’s Driven to Glory story mode.
The story mode features 36 chapters to play through with cutscenes throughout to help bring everything together. The mode has you race in a number of different vehicle types with various goals. It’s a narrative-driven mode where you’ll certainly be more interested in the cutscenes and the story than any of the racing you do within it. In fact, the story itself, despite having some of the typical racing story mode tropes you’d expect, is well written for a first-time offering. It’s set the foundation for documentary-style modes in racing games and may be what Codemasters offers in the future to really set them apart from other studios down the line.
What I don’t like about the mode is that you know about your goals before even getting to the chapter. I’m just not a fan of knowing what I need to do in Chapter 26 when I’m sitting on Chapter 3. Learning what I need to do is part of the enjoyment of story modes. Giving them away just takes away from that a bit.
The game’s career mode is another option for those that like the solo player aspect of racing games. You go through various levels of events – 250 in total – from Rookie up to Pro and beyond, unlocking and upgrading vehicles and building the best team you can. Building your team requires various upgrades through either mechanic development or teammate development. Each has their own benefits that will help you perform better on the circuits thus earning more rewards.
While there isn’t a lot of strategy behind your decisions within the mode, there is a path you can forge yourself while playing. You get to choose how you want to progress, what sponsors to sign with, and how you want to improve. So, while it could be deeper, it offers enough choices to make the mode quite fun.
Outside of the career and story modes, Grid Legends features an in-depth Race Creator that adds a lot of replay value to the game. From locations to car types to length and more, the Race Creator allows you to let your mind loose when creating events. It even saves them for use later should you want the same options again.
One of the more impressive features is the game’s new “Hop In” ability for multiplayer racers. Even if a race is on-going, you can join in and take over an AI controlled car right at that moment. It works flawlessly, and definitely adds to the options when looking for online races.
With online races, the game offers cross-platform play, allowing you to race with your friends no matter the platform. Another step in the right direction for the future of multiplatform games.
I do wish the quick race option would give you the option of a randomly generated solo race on top of looking for an online race. But online racing is enough fun that it’s something I’m willing to look past. Luckily, the Race Creator offers a randomize option to let you have that experience albeit in a few extra steps.
Grid Legends is as visually stunning as any racing game Codemasters has ever released. Every vehicle and location look nearly photorealistic, and there’s nothing that feels out of place.
Little things like the waves crashing along the coast in Havana during a race just add to the immersion that Grid Legends provides. There’s really nothing like it at the moment from an overall presentation aspect. No matter which of the 22 locations available you decide to race on, you’ll be left impressed by the detail put into each environment by Codemasters.
Even the audio of each vehicle sounds accurate. So accurate that it’s admittedly funny when starting an electric vehicle race. You get this intense music and introduction to the race, and as soon as the green light flashes it’s immediately a juxtaposition to the calm, quiet sounds of electric cars.
I would like a better replay suite that I could access at any time. I may be in the minority, but I love rewatching races, and trying to get the best screenshots I can with various angles. Being able to go back and watch a race allows you to experience things you may have missed while you were focused on the action. The replay suite they offer at the end of the race is fine, but it’s just not deep enough for my liking. It’s not the end of the world, but it does take away a bit of the fun for me.
Grid Legends Review Verdict
When I stop to think about Grid Legends and its overall standing, the word that constantly comes to mind is, “fun”. Whether it’s racing around shipping containers in a Japanese shipyard or cruising through the streets of Chicago, you can’t help but find yourself immersed in the experience.
Grid Legends isn’t a game that tries to take itself too seriously as opposed to being a racer for all levels of players. It’s not a top-level simulation, nor is it really trying to be. Instead, it provides a great balance between arcade and simulation.
Make no mistake, Grid Legends is an incredible racing game made for fans of racing games.
Are you planning on picking up a copy of Grid Legends? Let us know in the comment section below and join the discussion at the official SGO Discord server.
Note: A copy of Grid Legends for PC was provided to SGO for the purposes of this review.
Grid Legends is another great racing game from Codemasters, showing that with more support from a publisher like EA, the team can put out even better racing titles.