The Grid series was going strong for a few years, but then it took a break, but now it is back, but the question remains, is this worth getting behind the wheel for, or should it have remained in the pits.
GRID is very much like its predecessors in that offers up a few racing disciplines, which provide different ways to experience racing, in the past a lot of emphasis had been placed on the differences between them, but that has been removed this time. The game offers up GT, Tuner, Stock, Fernando Alonso and Touring Cars as the main options in your career to ascend to the top of the Grid World Series, if you want to take a break from it, you can also try some invitational events. In previous games, a lot of your progression was tied to the position that you came in, against the challenges that you were given. Progression in GIRD is handled quite a bit differently, you can still complete challenges, which grant rewards, but the bulk of your level is actually achieved by driving as good as you can. As you level, you unlock new items, such as banners, racers and such and at the same time, the higher your rewards can get.
Racing is the name of the game and you will do a lot of it, in fact almost nothing else but racing and there are times when you will get fatigued from it, but that is when you can dive into the management side of things. Here is where you can look at the driver that you team up with races, or your own profile and you will want to take time to invest in both. Your profile is more about showing off, you can choose different banners and flags for yourself, which other racers will see when you race them, and you see when going solo. On top of the flag, you can also add badges, which you can earn when you complete events, there are a number of ways in which you can display them, but it honestly comes down to showboating, so how you do, matter little. The other major aspect of the management is that you can choose who your teammate is, there are a host of drivers available, but you unlock more as you level up, thus giving you more choice. Each racer has a specialisation that they excel in, so if you are racing Stock for a while, you will want someone who is best in that, rather than Tuner. Taking someone in, who has the wrong specialisation, is not a bad thing, but they won’t perform the best. Each racer also has requirements that you meet when you hire them, like how much of the winnings they take from each race, as well as how much it costs to recruit them, so taking the time to research who works best for you, is crucial, if you want to earn some big bucks.
Earning money is an evil that the game requires, as that is how you purchase new cars, you are not gifted any and while you can stick with the same car for quite a while in your first racing discipline. When you move to another one, the game will offer you up more cars to select, the each meet the requirements of the new racing type and they will usually be priced around the same, the real difference comes out from their power and weight, as a heavier car will usually have a higher power rating, but take longer to get going. Once you have purchased your car, you can proceed into racing, or take sometime to fit out the look of it, most of this is based around colours and patterns, but there is a lot that you can do with it, I mean it is entirely possible to have a lime green car, without any sponsor logos on it, which thankfully mean you are not losing money. If you find yourself losing in a particular series, you can sell the car you have, take the cash and buy a new one, should you be short of funds. Earning cash though is quite easy, as you can earn a lot from racing, though you will lose a portion to your teammate, depending on how much they aim to take, as well as any damages you and they occurred in the race.
The game offers up two distinct race types, standard lap races, or time attack and both have challenges that you need to adjust to, depending on the discipline you are racing in. For example, in the Fernando Alonso style, you will race more open wheel and super cars than you would in Stock, which is more heavy built cars, like Nascar. If you are in an open wheel car, like the F1000 series, then you have to be careful when attempting to pass, you can clip another car quite easily and spin out, which can cost you precious time, which if you are in a Time Attack event, can be critical. The game still offers the ability to rewind, but those are limited, depending on your selected skill level, the more of a challenge you seek, the less you get per race or series. The game does let you attempt to score pole, by taking part in a single lap time trial, which if you get the best time, puts you at the top, or you can choose to skip it and just start near the back, but winning a race is not all you have to do.
In past games, just completing the race was enough, but here if you want to get the best score and rank up, you need to drive smarter than ever before, which if I am being honest was quite a challenge for me, as my usual method is to drop the pedal to the floor and just bash people out of the way. Now though, you earn points for actions you complete, and these can be as simple as sticking to the racing line, with the longer you stick to it, the more points you can earn. But you can get them as well, by overtaking and undercutting, sticking right on the other car and more, even drifting, which is something I did a lot of. Achieving these goals is not as simple as it sounds, as the track and time of day will determine your base level of success, for example, taking the time to drive around Havana in the rain, will be a lot more challenging, for just keeping the vehicle on the track, compared to doing it in the dry. You can even double down on the challenge, should you get a track that is at sunset and in the rain, but with a track like Shanghai, the rain is immensely more helpful, as it has many sweeping turns, compared to other tracks.
Speaking of tracks, this is one area where the game disappointed greatly and yes a lot of the usual race tracks from around the world are here, which is a real letdown, but many of the tracks that they developed for past GRID games are also here, in fact there are very few new ones. There is a good chance that this may not have been as big a deal as it is, if I had not spent dozens and dozens of hours on Grid Autosport for Switch, but as I did, seeing the tracks again, albeit looking a lot nicer, just had no appeal. The more concerning issue is that many of the tracks that they crafted in past games, were amazing to drive upon for the first time, and even some of the newer tracks like BLAH felt to cookie cutter, there was no real pizzazz for them, and it left me wanting. Please don’t misunderstand, the tracks that are here, are wonderful like San Francisco, USA or Okutama, Japan and with multiple times of day and weather options to drive around in, there is no shortage of fun times.
Sadly though, the fun times are brought down by the game’s bizarre presentation, which at times looks amazing, but also sounds horrible, which for a car game is a very bad thing. On the visual side, the game, for the most part, looks astonishing, the attention to detail on the cars is nothing short of mind-blowing and without a doubt, it is one of the best-looking car games around. The tracks, for the most part are wonderful recreations, there is a lot of attention paid to the elements that you normally speed past, like signs and trees, which is a nice change, the downside comes when you look for other things, like crowds. There were countless times when I would be in a race, be speeding down the home straight, with the crowd going wild, screaming and all, only to have there be no-one in the stand, not a single person would be there; this happened in time trials, which I can understand a bit, but in races, it just was not a good thing. The other issue, stemmed from tracks that had buildings all around it, like the street courses, these for some reason had issues display shadows, with the game only loading them in when I got near them. Don’t misunderstand, the game looks amazing most of the time, blazing around any city track at night, in the rain and the number of things going on is just staggering, there are just times when the shine comes off and you see less than perfect.
On the audio side, things are bad from the outset and most of that can be laid at the feet of the balance, it is just wrong, with cars sounding ok, but drowned out by the rest of the noise. The game for some reason, has all car noises attached to the same slider as the crowds, you can’t have one down, without the other going with and while lower crowds would be ok, it is the commentary that is the worst part. There are two folks who provide insights to the races, before them and make some calls during them, the problem is both sound like they would rather be anywhere else and that each time they do sound interested, it is when you skip them to start the race. During the race, their biggest problem is the comments they make, have no correlation to what is happening on screen and also, they sound like they are being shouted from speakers on random parts of the track, which provides a massive echo effect. I have tried tinkering with the levels to correct it, but honestly the best thing was to turn them off, they are dry and offering nothing of note to say. Even the crew chief states very little, unless you ask for updates on something and even then, it will only be as you begin a new lap.
GRID is a letdown, given how spectacular the series was before this, the racing itself is amazing, as expected from the developer and the game looks a treat, but it still manages to feel old. The track selection is minimal, and most are from existing games and for some reason modes like Endurance are missing entirely.
Review code provided by Codemasters