Race Driver: GRID

Codemaster’s racing games have always been comprehensive; from the first TOCA on PS1 through to the most recent V8 Supercars or the excellent Colin McRae’s Dirt. You could never hassle Codies for the sheer value that your massively inflated purchase price (yay, for being at the bottom of the world, eh?) buys you.

Whilst Grid is no different, Codemasters still felt it necessary to come out and say that Grid is not about ticking boxes on the back of the packet or about performing spreadsheet-like real world simulation. Grid, they say, is all about having fun in a high powered ball of steel at 200+ kilometres an hour. So they say…

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Grid’s heritage is beyond doubt – even if you weren’t familiar with its excellent precursors, the quality of the presentation of this title will immediately allay your concerns over the team’s prowess, polish and attention to detail. The user interface is an extension of the excellent mould-breaking one previously used in Dirt, with things whizzing around in 3D space like no user interface widget before it.

The gameplay, too, is oh so very tight. No matter which class of racing you’re currently participating in, be it supercar, muscle car, track car or Formula 1 - things feel great with a very real connection to the road. You can always feel the rubber as it starts to let go when hanging on the very edge of traction through that tight right hander. The adrenaline rush you get when hitting the track-side turf after overshooting a corner will be very familiar to V8 Supercars players that spent much time in the hills of Bathurst.

A brand new gameplay feature, which turns out to be a very important one, is the debut of the Flashback control. What it amounts to is this: at any time, you can call on the games instant replay feature and, thanks to the excellent controls of said replay, you can scrub through it (forward and backward in time. Bungie take note) to any point in the last 20 or so seconds of your lap (ok, Bungie win here…). Where Grid stands alone, however, is that, at any point in this replay, you can press Square and continue playing from that point. That’s right, you can now go back in time and retake that corner you just made a right meal of and perhaps not end up wrapped around a pole / off the track / or dead.

That’s cool, right? Being able to go back in time? Sure it is – mostly. However, it’s also something of a significant negative, for one simple reason: the fact that you can go back in time at any point has allowed the game’s designers to get rather extremely over the top with the risk factor. These half-million dollar, team of engineer supported supercars are for the first time - extremely fragile. Further to that, the tracks are rather fraught with risky, death-dealing obstacles. Further still, the AI is super aggressive and the physics interactions with your opponents are rather too light for our liking.

The net effect is that, when you’re around other cars, heading through a corner and traveling at anything near a competitive speed, it’s pretty random as to whether you’re going to get through the other side. Combine that with the fact that the replay takes a while to kick in (after you’ve pressed several buttons) and that you’re limited to four uses of the Flashback system per race. Suddenly it’s nowhere near as cool as it could have been. The net effect of this system is that it’s going to take new players a long time to get up to speed with the game; time that they’ll likely spend very frustrated indeed.

Graphically it’s mostly hot sauce, like you’d expect, however the lack of anti-aliasing (the game was tested with the PS3 set to 1080p on a 42” Toshiba TV) really does take the sheen off. The 3D UI widgets alias like crazy and in-game, anything not at right angles to the horizon swims like Moss Burmester. The interior graphics (which you will see a lot of, as they feature in the cut from replay to flashback) are seriously low resolution too, which seems oddly out of place with the high polygon count elsewhere. However, there are still lovely God-rays coming through the trees in places and the tracks look really nice, filled with plenty of destructible components to accidentally slide sideways through.

So there are lots of modes, it’s mostly loads of fun and the replay feature really is very well crafted. It looks nice, moves at a good clip and you always feel like you’re able to control the car and know exactly when you lose your grip. The Flashback feature feels like something with a lot of promise and we can’t wait to see what the next racing game that rolls out of the garage at Codemasters will be like.

"Grid is putting fun back in racing games"
- Race Driver: GRID
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 1 Hour


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Comments Comments (4)

Posted by crabman
On Sunday 13 Jul 2008 12:51 PM
the best drift racing yet to ever come out get this game
Posted by howzit
On Sunday 13 Jul 2008 9:08 PM
One of the best looking ones too!
Posted by Mach1_9pants
On Monday 17 Nov 2008 6:13 PM
Def a great FUN racing game..I just wish I could drift! Still even though I am rubbish still enjoying it
Posted by TheDreadedGman
On Wednesday 10 Dec 2008 1:28 PM
note: the PC version does support AA and it looks splendid, with smooth edges and fantastic models..

damage is superb with actual parts leaving the car and crunching up spectacularly...

I am a racing game fan and this one has an excellent feel to it, kinda like a cross between the previous more "racey" TOCA2 and V8 Supercars (TOCA3) and the "arcadey" NFS series...

Also the customized names in the sounds is pretty slick, you pick your name or nickname from a fairly long list and it will use your name in the dialogue...

overall very polished feel and the menus look great, although the 3D text is a little hard to read at first.

PS3 is chunky with NO Anti-aliasing? I guess the PC IS more powerful.. interesting.