For those who aren’t familiar with the GRID franchise, its roots go back with the TOCA series on the Playstation many years ago, which is where I did a lot of my Racing gaming. However, this current installment of GRID isn’t like your parent’s TOCA as the franchise comes into this current title with significant upgrades. Putting out a title that I feel is a huge simulation with a lot of arcade elements mixed into it could help bring about the days of titles before that could spark new memories and moments for players taking the time to experience GRID.
CLASS IN SESSION
When the game first starts the player is started off into a series of races in the WSR (World Series of Racing). Three different car types which were nice (and a bit dramatic) and creative way of Codemasters to introduce the player to the different types of cars they will have access too. You have the potential to place in first or last if you finish. Once the three races are done than it will open to the main screen and present the options to either Career or Multiplayer mode. Once again, I appreciated the attempt by Codemasters to place this experience in game because it will give the player a taste of the main course to come. Touch upon the palate of the players with just enough to not to overwhelm but entice them to stick around and see what more is in store.
Playing Career mode, you are a member of TEAM GRID (I changed my name to Nightmares) in the WSR against 14 other racers (eight teams of two). If you noticed on the bottom left of the screen you will noticed the name of your teammate who is racing along with you trying to place high in the races to gain points for the team. Along with some instruction from your crew chief you will be encouraged to try and finish as high as you can as winning individually is a big thing (and more overall points) but making sure the team points matter as well.
Having a teammate can work out to your advantage as well when you need a push to pass the pack or maintain your lead. One example I thought was really nice was when my crew chief asked me if I wanted my teammate “to block a rival from advancing” (by clicking the directional pad to say yes or no) as rivals can produce a challenge compared to other racers who are not rivals. Teammates are a great edition to have when playing because if the chemistry is good and you are winning the ability to feed off each other will go a long way regarding success overall as a unit.
There are six vehicle types with 13 races events in each vehicle type with a Showdown Event as the 14 and final race of the vehicle type. This “Showdown’ event will put you against a racer of supreme skill set to see how really good you are at the vehicle class you completed In one of the events as the “Showdown” you will race against Fernando Alonso (2-time Formula One World Champion and one of the All Time Greats of the Sport).
It is a fulfilling campaign in my opinion as you have a multitude of cars and tracks to race on throughout the Career Mode if you choose to go thru them all. A nice selection of cars and real-world tracks are in place with new additions to the series such as a track in Havana and an oldie but goodie in Sydney Motorsport Park. Vehicle wise we have various models from over 17+ car companies including Audi, Nissan, BMW, McLaren, Aston Martin, Subaru, Porsche, Ferrari and Ford.
GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS
One of the key features GRID wants to push in this installment is the new Nemesis system where if you cause another racer to mess up or crash into them too much it will trigger the AI to become super aggressive and target you during the remainder of the race and possibly others. With over 400 unique AI arrangements there is plenty of differences players will run into during the Career mode. It is fascinating to see it play out as I rammed into a back of a driver when I was going into a turn too hot. A red helmet icon than appears on the driver you wronged, and they will become your rival. I will say this much regarding the aggressive AI…they are ruthless. It’s not a good idea to just ram everyone and that includes your teammate. Because if you fall behind and are trying to make a comeback for the victory the task is even harder when you are in a field of 15 against 1.
The game is a comforting mix of simulation and arcade. Penalizing you if you drive recklessly, but still giving you the feeling of being able to get behind the virtual wheel and unleash all types of moves on the tracks with fun and abandonment. However, you must understand that it doesn’t mean you can just play this game like Demolition Derby and get to the finish line first. You must break, learn when to drift, accelerate at the apex and above all be patient. The controls are not too complicated to get a hang of and easy to master eventually as the on-screen assist is nice to have to let you know when to apply gas and when to hard break at a corner when you are approaching way too fast.
Multiplayer provides a Quick Match and Private Match option. With online cars, you have the option of buying if you can afford it or loaning the car for s small percent of your earnings. Not too bad if your pockets are deep. Waiting for other players to join has an interesting track area where you can spend time fine-tuning your drift skills or just ramming all over the place and checking out the collision system in-game. Gameplay during the Online portion went smooth with no lagging I noticed at times as well. Players can set up private matches or participate in skirmishes with other online users with all the vehicle types and race conditions (track and weather) to choose from.
Customization is plentiful, but not as deep as some fans of this feature will like. There are plenty of 8 different classes of skins in the livery section that are unlocked either through leveling up after XP gains or unlocking new races through progression. XP is earned during races resulting in leveling up which will unlock customization options (stickers and banners) and even teammate drivers with 4 skill sets (Loyalty, Skill, Attack and Defense).
Overall, the game has its good points regarding longevity and car type selection. However, for the beginner, it can get frustrating with the controls. It can be really disheartening, to be honest, and has the potential to turn a causal player off due to its steep learning curve. But, when I finally got my first victory, I was excited because I was able to read the screen lines better and knew when to brake, drift, apply gas and maintain control. I was able to start using my teammates when I wanted to make a push to advance and eventually all the frustration I initially felt slow (not completely at times) faded away.
I started to enjoy the gameplay more once I was able to give it a chance to show me all that it could be. It really motivated me to keep playing and progressing through the Career mode which will keep most gamers occupied for some time. Grid is its own creation, but players will see the slight resemblance of other racing games and appreciate the newest installment in the genre of Motorsports Racing. Patience is key to get a true and enjoyable racing experience from GRID, but if you are short on that be prepared to miss out on a very good title.
Grid is its own creation, but players will see the slight resemblance of other racing games and appreciate the newest installment in the genre of Motorsports Racing. Patience is key to get a true and enjoyable racing experience from GRID, but if you are short on that be prepared to miss out on a very good title.