After a five-year absence, Codemasters is back with its latest installment of the GRID series, simply titled GRID. After the release of GRID: Autosport in 2014, the series went into hiatus, but now with promises of a better driving model, stunning graphics and solid AI, Codemasters is about to release the long-lost relative to the TOCA series back out into the wild. In today’s sim-heavy racing landscape, there is not necessarily a need for titles like GRID and Wreckfest — and the amount of room for error is noticeably smaller than in previous generations — so how does the GRID reboot hold up?
What I Like
With arcade racing titles, gamers will often be met with a mixed bag when it comes to the driving model of said game. With GRID that is not the case because you feel an incredible connection between the car and road, and it all blends together to create a fun driving model and that blurs the line between arcade and simulation.
The approach with GRID in terms of handling is not much different than what you find in F1 or NASCAR video games. You need to understand and approach the correct racing line consistently, often let the car roll through the turns, and feather the analog movement and gas and break. Not every choice is zero or one hundred, and understanding the nuance of the controls will serve you well on greater difficulties.
The driving model in GRID is a combination of street, drift and dirt racing, yet it blends well together to create a realistic and fun experience that adds to the overall enjoyment of the title.
Codemasters made it a point of emphasis in describing the beauty that resides inside of GRID, and the team did not oversell it. I tested GRID on both the PS4 Pro and my gaming PC, and both were stunning to take in, both in terms of vehicle resemblance and environmental track re-creation. On top of the game looking beautiful and running at a consistent and robust frame rate, the in-game weather effects are handled incredibly well, and as the weather changes so does the way the car reacts to the surface of each track.
Racing games can be a bit tricky when it comes to graphical fidelity. If the developers do a poor job on the driving model and AI but deliver a visually appealing set of graphics, it will often go unnoticed because of the failure in the other two categories. Thankfully Codemasters has delivered on all three fronts with GRID, and that allows me to appreciate how beautiful the game looks and runs.
If you have ever had the chance to play previous GRID or TOCA titles, then you will feel right at home with the career mode in the newest iteration of the GRID series. While it may be presented in a different style, career mode gives the player the chance to race in multiple disciplines with multiple car options. So whether you love Touring, Stock, Tuner or GT, there is a designated path for you to follow. Regardless of what you choose to start with, the option to go down every single direction is available, which adds a tremendous amount of depth and longevity to the title.
As you start your career, you are issued a basic car, and as you win and earn more in-game currency, you can upgrade your car choice. I would have loved to have had the ability to improve specific cars during career mode as that would have added even more depth, but the option to buy new vehicles as an upgrade is the path the developers chose. While it’s not a huge detraction from the overall enjoyment of the title, the ability to upgrade and tune your car is pretty standard in today’s world of racing titles and would have served GRID well.
On top of the depth career mode already adds to the game, racing on the higher difficulties provided in the title delivers quite a steep but fair challenge, and I often found myself having to retry a particular race to accomplish the preset goals.
Each race will allow you to turn a hot lap for qualifying and that will determine your place on the GRID. However, I would have liked to have seen a real practice mode before each race to help with track familiarity because I found more enjoyment in choosing a random spot in the GRID and fighting my way through traffic rather than relying on qualifying to determine my place on the GRID. Regardless of your approach to each race, there is a lot of fun to be had in career mode, and I would imagine this mode is where most will be spending their time.
The developers promised that the AI in GRID would deliver wheel-to-wheel racing, make genuine mistakes, attempt to realistically block, and be aggressive when incorporating their overtaking maneuvers within the race.
That’s a lot to promise out of the AI in an arcade–style racer, but GRID delivers exactly that. Even on the easiest of difficulties, the AI drivers will force you to be smart and aggressive if you plan on taking their spot away, and most certainly will pay you back if your attempt goes beyond what is acceptable.
The best part of Codemasters delivering on all fronts in terms of AI is that you can see it play out right in front of your eyes during each race. You will witness AI drivers fight each other for position, look for different lines, and make big mistakes in trying to attempt their takeovers.
What I Don’t Like
Shallow online options seem to be a reoccurring problem with many racing titles, and it is once again an issue with GRID. While the servers were flawless in my time with GRID online, the options were not. More specifically, the lack of options. Once joined in an online session, you will find yourself with two basic options as your choices: private event or quick match.
That is where the online options end. At least in a private match the game allows you to choose between multiple options that you would find in an offline session, but I was hoping for more and quite frankly expect more these days in terms of multiplayer options. GRID simply does not meet those expectations.
Lack Of Licensed Tracks
GRID delivers a decent number of choices in the form of street and circuit tracks, and lap or point-to-point options, but with how well the AI competes and how fun the handling is in the game, the track options seem a bit weak, especially in regards the real-life circuit choices. GRID does well in the depth department for sure, but with the addition of another 8 to 10 real-life tracks, the depth and longevity could have been even more significant, especially for those who typically are not into arcade racing titles.
Creation Suite (Where Is It?)
As mentioned earlier, the beauty and detail of each car is handled exceptionally well in GRID, and the option to have a legitimate creation suite inside the game would have served its fans well. The game does offer several paint schemes and liveries, but in a game like GRID the developers needed to let the community show their creativity. A strong creation suite seems like a given in an arcade racer that promotes career mode as the selling point, yet here we are.
In a game like GRID, it is hard to deliver a solid driving model, strong AI, deep career mode and package it together in a way that is appealing to a racing community with multiple interests and styles. The newest GRID title will appeal to many people in many ways, and that’s precisely what the developers are hoping for I believe. With so many quality racing options on the market right now, Codemasters has delivered a unique experience that should have mass appeal and deserves a spot in the rotation, especially for you offline racers.