In the past, I’ve complained a time or two about Codemasters’ racing games being a little too much for the enthusiasts. That’s fine and all, but it also shuts out the newbies that are trying to get in on the action. Since then, it has made a few adjustments here and there to driving systems to make them more adaptable, while at the same time challenging. But when Dirt Rally 2.0 came out earlier this year, as amazing as it was, some of those frustrations came bubbling back up.
But now we have Grid, which is essentially a redo for the ongoing racing series that got its start years ago on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As you might guess, some of that nervousness arose yet again. But as I got into the first few races that the tutorial presents, that went away in favor of an engrossing racing experience that works for all players this time around. Yes, Codemasters finally, ahem, circled around and created an experience that no fan should miss.
Don’t get me wrong – if you tweak enough of the in-game options, Grid is still as challenging as you want it to be. There are many systems to take advantage of here, particularly drifting, which can make you a real master for the course. But it’s nice that the developers didn’t make it too much about the hardcore fans, and settled down enough for newcomers to have fun with the game. Now that’s balance.
There are different vehicle types across a slew of circuit races, including rally cars and specialized vehicles. Yes, they can differ. But the controls that debut with Grid are nothing short of excellent, as you get a hang of the systems and really make your engine purr throughout each race. I was surprised how much handling had been tweaked so that it’s fighting against the inexperienced user as much. Granted, I also changed a few settings and found myself back to where the original GRiD came from, more or less. So there’s leeway for both.
What’s more, the brands are reliable and well represented with some amazing car models. I got a real kick out of seeing the Ferrari and Porsche brands again, even though some cars looked a little too souped-up for their own good. But hey, that’s part of the intimidation game, right?
There are 12 different locations to race across in Grid, scattered across the globe. And each one features a number of distinctive events to choose from, particularly with the Zhejiang Circuit in China. They all offer a great deal of variety, which is very cool, though it does shorten up on the track count in general. No matter – the tracks that are here are pretty impressive; and there will be more added to the game via DLC in the months ahead. I also enjoy the weather and nighttime racing effects – they really add something incredible here. In fact, the game is just shy of taking the first place lead from Forza Horizon 4 on the Xbox One front. Not to mention that it pulls ahead of the previously released DiRT 4 by a few hairs.
The sound is good, too. You aren’t hammered too much in the ear by your captain, though he will warn you if you make one too many rivals on the track. (Maybe watch who you bump into, okay?) The in-game engine noises are phenomenal, especially in stereo; and I really like the small bits of in-game music scattered throughout.
So Grid has the staying power with presentation and controls, as well as being enjoyable for all to play. But what about longevity? Well, it’s got that to spare too. The game features a wide assortment of tracks and circuits to choose from, and a huge selection of cars to mess around with and tweak with liveries and more. You can also earn currency by pulling off combinations of tricks in the game, like getting a good drift on and following the pre-set driving line that gives you the best route to follow in the game. (It’s not mandatory, though.)
You can also call upon teammates to lend a hand, “attacking” other cars (not like Burnout or anything, but providing a progressive edge). But, again, creating enemies is also possible, as all you have to do is get a few bumps on someone or knock off their ride to make them more aggressive. It’s a neat touch, though, especially when you have several holding grudges as they ride along your tail. And even teammates can be mad at you if you act like a real dick.
Finally, if you feel like you make too many mistakes, you can once again rewind during a race. There’s only so many times you can use it without really affecting your race winnings, so you might want to save it for when you need it. Still, it’s wonderfully done, and you’ll find proper moments when to use it best.
I really love what Codemasters has pulled off with Grid. What it’s missing with track count and making people too mad at you, it makes up for with an abundant amount of racing options, solid controls, a lot of systems to tweak, great online play and a presentation that really pops off the screen. If the publisher can continue to follow this route for future racing releases, fans will have a grand time hunting for that checkered flag.