GRID is a game about excitement. Whereas Gran Turismo is about engineering and Forza is about the beauty of cars, GRID is much rawer than that. It doesn’t slip into the cartoon-esque arcade games like Need for Speed and Ridge Racer, nor does it delve into the intricacies of motorsports like the F1 series pushes towards, instead it’s about the engine noise, the contact, pushing your skills to the limit, and in its purest sense, racing.
Grid Autosport is the third in the GRID series and it goes a long way to make up for missteps in previous games. Despite apparently a minority of players using it, cockpit mode is back. There’s also now a range of different disciplines with tuners, formula series, drifters, stock cars and street racers all offering up tournaments in the campaign and playlists in multiplayer. The multiplayer is also fleshed out and although at the time of writing it was impossible to find a game (as it’s not out yet) there’s a comprehensive suite of options designed to help you set up car clubs and compete with other players across the world in whatever kind of race you’d like. It’s also a massive feather in the game’s hat to have a decently implemented split-screen mode, allowing you to not only race against your friend but also the AI in races that appear to be as fully featured as the core experience.
Before you get on to the track there’s a wealth of options regarding you car’s tuning and your difficulty settings, what type of damage you want to switch on, whether you need unrealistic assists or even real ones like traction control and how hard you want the AI to be. Push the difficulty up by making it more realistic or your opponents more challenging and you’ll get more XP per race which will unlock future events quickly. We played through the game on normal and were constantly unlocking new races but there’s at least some incentive to keep the game challenging for yourself.
Once you get into the race the first thing that might strike you is that this is not a pretty game. Even on PC it looks distinctly last gen, with some adequate car models and lighting but nothing that stands out or that can compete with current-gen titles like Forza 5 and Driveclub. The game’s console heritage is clear and there’s a distinct lack of physicality to the models and movement, with cars scraping and deforming against each other but never really feeling like powerful chunks of metal and glass.
Of course once the race starts you forget all about that and are immediately thrust into one of the more thrilling racing experiences available. From real touring car racetracks to blasting through the streets of Barcelona, every track has been meticulously crafting to create opportunities and hazards every few metres. Each discipline feels different but whether you’re powering down a straight in a roaring muscle car or slipping through the inside of a hairpin in a graceful Formula 3 car, you feel the drama of racing. The controls are tight, the handling is just loose enough to reward some ridiculously risky moves while still feeling somewhat like a simulation. Throwing an open-wheel car into a powerslide on a gentle corner that allows you to overtake the back of the pack might not be something you’ll be seeing Jensen Button doing but it’s breathtaking when it works.
When it doesn’t work you can just tap ‘Y’ to have the whole thing reset to give you another go. This has become a fairly standard feature in many racing games now and with difficulty settings limiting the number of uses it definitely avoid the horrible frustration when a simple mistake on the last corner costs you a ten minute race.
Overall Grid Autosport is fun. It may not be pretty, or as expansive or realistic as some of the competition, but in terms of sheer enjoyment coming from racing, it’s up there with the best of them. We can’t wait to see this series make a current-gen entry so the graphics and models can catch up but if you’re not too fussy about the little details this is an absolute blast.
We would be giving this a seven due to the intense fun but rough edges, we are however awarding it an eight purely because of the inclusion of a substantial split-screen mode. Split-screen is something that’s been all too often overlooked by racing game developers in the last decade and it’s still a mode we use regularly, so well done to GRID! We need to remember that when we review games, we’re looking at the perceived value of the game. You could easily lose hundreds of hours to learning every corner and perfecting every discipline, and the extensive multiplayer modes only compound this. As a single player game it’s much close to a ‘7’ so plan your purchase accordingly.