Back in November 2018, we sat down with the latest racing title to hit Xbox One, a successor to the iconic Rollcage – GRIP: Combat Racing. It’s fair to say that we enjoyed our time with what is one of the most unique racers to arrive on Xbox One in recent years, but that’s not to say it didn’t have a few issues we would have preferred to have seen ironed out. Thankfully since it launched the developers haven’t stopped the hard work and have pumped out numerous improvements to ensure it becomes remembered for all the right reasons. And after having already introduced some worthwhile changes with the comically titled ‘Big Ass update’ GRIP has now received another free update, this time in the form of AirBlades.
Now the first thing to note about this update are the new vehicles that it is named after – AirBlades. There are 15 new ones to choose between in the AirBlades update and as the early pictures suggested, each and every one has ditched their wheels in favour of a more anti-gravity thruster-based approach to movement. It has to be said, Airblades may just be the best thing since Wipeout.
Each of the vehicles comes with a unique appearance and when compared to the usual vehicles of GRIP, they bear very little difference, beside their hovering nature. They can still go over jumps, they can still be driven on all surfaces and they can still be controlled in the air with a simple release of the accelerator. But there are a few changes to note that make them a worthwhile addition.
The most notable change for me is the fact that whilst they drive much smoother than the original vehicles, cornering does become more challenging thanks to the fact that you’re essentially drifting your ‘pod racer’ around the track rather than using physical wheels to grip to the surface. When travelling at some of the ridiculous speeds that can be reached in these things, that can become a little challenging – although it is a challenge that should be cherished and not criticised.
Each of the new vehicles can be used in both online or offline races as well as any ongoing or new Career you choose to partake in, and with mixed events also possible, there is no greater sight than lining up against both your typical four-wheeled GRIP racing machines and the new AirBlade vehicles. Obviously there is the question of dealing with hazards such as rocks and bumps in the track, but as you’d hope, the new Airblades deal with these by simply racing over them, with contact only being made should you hit them at an awkward angle, much like in the regular vehicles.
Another huge positive for the new vehicular additions is that each one can be customised just like the original vehicles; different stats for Acceleration, Speed, Grip, Brakes and Strength are all in place. There is therefore no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find one you that you feel comfortable using.
Joining each of the new vehicles are 6 more tracks as well. Two of these have been created for the purposes of our fancy new flying racers, with space becoming the new locale to race in and little gravity presenting an all new issue. This is especially so should you take a corner too sharp or be on the receiving end of a missile attack… both reasons to be finding yourself floating into the abyss.
To round things off Caged Element haven’t forgotten things off the track either with a number of performance improvements and UI changes to help GRIP run smoother and faster when setting things up. Racing also now feels better thanks to improvements to the A.I. racers, ensuring you can remain competitive no matter how good or bad you are at sticking to the tracks, with a fantastic selection of difficulties for all player skill levels.
Should you have already played GRIP and enjoyed your time with the game, the latest update is one that you should certainly take a look into. With it now proving to be a new home for anti-gravity racing, and plenty of fun to be had with the new vehicles and tracks, we are almost looking at an all-new game. It’s not quite at that level of course, but with GRIP now harbouring a fantastic blend of exciting tracks and tons of vehicles, there is little more to want and need from a racer.
If you’ve yet to play GRIP: Combat Racing, make sure you check out our full review so you can get the low-down on exactly what you’re missing out on. Just remember though – Airblades transforms this racer into a whole new beast.