I’m a big fan of racing games. So when I got the opportunity to go and experience the upcoming GRID release, I jumped at the chance. It’s being developed by the legendary Codemasters studio, who have a long and rich history of releasing quality racing titles. You may have heard of Toca Race Driver, DiRT Rally and Colin McRae Rally just to name a few of their greatest hits. Their latest project is due for release on October 11th 2019, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the newly rebooted GRID.
Before I was able to get my hands on the game itself, Director Chris Smith gave us a short introduction and some background to the development journey so far. There were two things that immediately struck me. Firstly, as Chris explained, racing games fall on a scale between arcade and simulation racers. GRID sits further along toward the sim end, but features some key arcade elements. Secondly, this is a reboot for the franchise as it has been over five years since the last game in the series was released.
The first thing that hit me when I got into the driving seat was just how lovely GRID is looking. There are a wide variety of tracks to play that are located all over the world. These include day and night events which take place in a range of weather conditions. As well as this, there are also loads of cars to choose from. Career mode showcases all of these and there are six “threads” of events to play through.
One of these is Fernanado Alonso’s, who has been working closely with the GRID team acting as race consultant. In his event series you face-off against some of his Esports team before getting to battle it out with the man himself in his very own showcase event. Exciting stuff indeed. The difference here to the last game in the series, is that you only have to play a certain amount of the events in each thread before you unlock the showdown, whereas before you had to complete every single one to do so. It’s clear this game is about choice and is designed to cater for the different needs and wants of gamers across the board. Whether you prefer arcade or simulation racers, there should be something here that appeals to you.
In GRID the cars control well, and there are various assists you can switch around, depending on how you like to play. Keeping in line with the theme of choice, this allows players a more realistic experience in terms of handling if they choose. Be warned, even with assists you will still need a certain level of skill to defeat your opponents and finish in pole position.
In terms of style, GRID leans towards the simulation racers as I mentioned earlier, but has arcade elements to ensure the game is fun and accessible to all. An example of this is that racers are allowed to get physical with each other, and if you bump a particular opponent too much, you will create a nemesis in them. This means they will become totally focused on beating you and not being afraid to shunt and shove you to throw you off course. Another arcade element is simply the fact you can race supercars around the city streets pretty irresponsibly and face no penalties or consequences. It’s fun to play, but very much still grounded in reality, just not too realistic to detract from the enjoyment.
As well as this, something out of the blue will happen every now and then, such as a car flipping, or your vehicle taking sudden damage which affects how it performs. The idea behind the AI is unpredictability, and providing some unique, enjoyable experiences. This gives the AI certain traits and personalities, and this varies greatly between the pack. There is also a choreographer at work in the background, to further enhance this unpredictability. The idea behind all of this, is to make each race unique, and provide memorable racing moments.
GRID is also geared towards progression, and there are plenty of rewards for you to earn as you play. These include banners, cards and accolades, the last of which allow you to brag about your driving achievements to anyone and everyone. You also accumulate points for skillful driving as you race for things such as straight line speed and drifting.
There are still some rough edges at this stage, as you might expect, however Codemasters’ GRID is shaping up to be a really exciting, deep and satisfying racer. I personally lean more towards arcade racers, however the formula that the team at Codemasters are working on is looking to be a perfect blend of casual and serious racing. And most importantly, it is lots of fun to play.
To see my attempts at driving a muscle car around Shanghai, check out our seven minute gameplay video below.
Massive thanks go out to the team at Codemasters for inviting us to their hands-on event with GRID. You’ll find the game launching on Xbox One, PS4 and PC come October 11th 2019 – we can’t wait!