Race Driver: GRID
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Grid was developed and published by Codemasters, the creators of the TOCA series. It is a game in which the player runs their own race team, acting as the primary driver. As players progress they gain sponsors and can hire a teammate to drive alongside them in certain events.
Edge ranked the game #41 on its list of "The 100 Best Games To Play Today", stating that "it blows cobwebs from the genre, with handling a great balance of sim twitchiness and arcade abandon, breathtaking speed, and a sense of being there like no other racer".
The game includes Flashback, an instant replay feature. From an in-race replay players can rewind to a desired previous moment and resume the race from there. Flashbacks are limited, becoming fewer the higher the difficulty level selected, and in Grid World there is a cash bonus for not using them.
Players can take part in 12-players simultaneous online or LAN races. Selecting either Ranked or Player Match will give several options, including Quick Race, Custom Match, Create Session, and Private Session.
An Arcade adaptation was published by Sega in 2010. Based on the main iteration of the game, it has two singleplayer modes, quick race and championship, and also offers multiplayer races if multiple cabinets are linked together.
North American publication Nintendo Power gave the Nintendo DS version a score of 8.5 out of 10. Praise was delivered to the game's robust car and course customization features, superb graphics by DS standards, and praised the multiplayer modes. Some mild criticism was delivered towards the game's single player mode for having flimsy car upgrading and lack of knowing what rewards you get before entering a race, but said that the good aspects far outweigh the bad.
The heart of GRID is the career-mode called GRID World. Divided into the three regions USA, Europe and Japan, the player has to earn money and prestige points to move up into a higher license category which then gives him access to more and harder racing events. These events are divided into categories like normal races, Drift-events, Destruction Derbies and even the famous 24 hours race in Le Mans.
But of course not every car is suitable for every event so there are several different series to chose from. So while the player drives a tuned car for the Drift- or Racing-events in Japan, muscle cars await him in for the Destruction Derbies in the USA or Formel 3000 racers in Europe. Each car also handles very differently. Of course the player needs to buy the suitable car first before he can enter a tournament. There he can decide if he wants to buy a brand new car or go over to eBay Motors and look for a solid used car which of course cost less but has already seen some crashes and might not provide the best possible performance.
Besides money the player also earns prestige points. These are required to unlock the next higher license category in the corresponding country. Of course tournaments give way more points than completing Driver Offers but the player can also get a few more points by adjusting the realism settings before the race. The higher the realism is, the higher the point gain will be after successful finishing the event. These settings include things like a difficulty level, traction assistant or how many flashbacks the player has available during a race. These flashbacks are similar to the Sands of Time in the Prince of Persia-Series. If the player for example drifts out into the gravel pit, he can activate the instant replay, rewind time a little bit and then immediately reenter the race at that point and try to avoid the crash.
Forget the underdog tag; this time Codemasters has created one of the finest road racers of a console generation. New features like Flashbacks deserve to become standards, and the visual excellence and richness and variety of the racing make for an exceptional game.
Starting off with an old, beaten-up Mustang, you'll need to race for other teams in order to earn the money you'll need to fix up your car, design your team's signature paint job and start your team. Racing for other teams earns you cash fast, and means you don't have to own a suitable car to enter an event, but it doesn't do much at all for your reputation - which you'll need to reach the advanced races. The good news is you can breeze past this first part of the game on one of the easier difficulty levels if you need to, earning the $30,000 you need in less than fifteen minutes.
While the 47 cars on offer might seem a little light on in comparison to Forza Motorsport 2, the depth and variety of the racing modes in GRID more than make up for it. You'll be racing across three continents (US, Europe and Asia) each with their own vehicles and several signature events like the demolition derbies and muscle cars of the US, the touring cars and circuit racing of Europe and the pro-tuned racers and Touge (head-to-head, no-contact mountain climbs and descents) events of Japan. And before you think "Jack of all trades, master of none," I can safely say that GRID excels in everything it does despite it's ambitious reach.
GRID is part-simulation, part-arcade. You can slide around a corner, but it doesn't feel like you're on train tracks like Ridge Racer. You'll have to brake to get around a hairpin, but it you're not going to spin out and ruin your race should you accelerate a little too early on the way out. It's just...fun. In contrast with a majority of racing games, the AI doesn't rely on cheating to win by sitting inches away from your rear bumper and waiting for the slightest mistake. If you pull off a perfect turn on the last lap, you'll be extending your lead. The rubber banding effect is absent, and it's a far more rewarding racing experience as a result.
GRID features a Flashback mechanic that is one of the most innovative ideas to hit the racing genre in years. Depending on the difficulty level you've chosen, you get a certain number of flashbacks per race. At any stage you can pause the game, scroll back through the replay, and resume the gameplay from a point in time before you'd made a mistake. It's a brilliant element that takes the frustration out of your inevitable mistakes - a Flashback is a far better option than restarting the race, especially when you've just lost it on the last corner of a twenty minute run around Circuit de la Sarthe. What's great is that those who think the mechanic is akin to cheating can choose to leave it unused, and those who think it's the best thing since Daytona hit arcades can use it to enjoy the racing without the frustration.
The pacing is beautiful - you can buy a competitive car for a new event type by winning a handful of races - so you won't have to grind for hours to progress in the game. Provided you're winning races, sponsors will regularly contact you. There's enough room on your car for one major sponsors logo, and several minor sponsors which you can change at any time. Each sponsor will set conditions like "Place higher than 4th for $3,000" or "Place 1st for $6,000", so with the right sponsors, you can rack up some serious cash for even a podium place. There's also a basic teammate mechanic that allows you to hire a driver to race with you. Having your team win in the team standings on top of winning the drivers championship means even more cash and reputation, and your sponsors will pay out on your teammates placing as well.
As you'd expect from the developers of DIRT, the interface and menu system is absolutely superb. It's incredibly quick and easy to navigate, you've got a clear indication of the differences between cars before you purchase them, and the time you spend watching loading screens is made far less painful by showing interesting statistics like the total number of miles you've raced, how much of the game you've completed and how far away you are from unlocking certain achievements.
If you tire of the clinical feel of simulations like Forza and Gran Turismo, but can't get into Ridge Racer, Need for Speed or Burnout, GRID could be the racing game you have been waiting for. And no matter what racers you're already into, the GRID experience is so undeniably fun that it's worth a rental at the very least.
Race Driver: GRID is released today, 30th May(Europe/PAL), on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainmentsystem from Microsoft, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainmentsystem and Games For Windows®. A Nintendo DS edition willfollow, please visit www.racedrivergrid.com for more details.
A common problem with GRID is that the force feedback effects will work for one race, but disappear in the next, or just not work at all. If this happens, make sure VSync is turned On in the Graphics Settings. This fixed the issue for me.
With these settings applied, the game feels pretty good with a wheel. A lot of the street races are clearly designed with a controller in mind, requiring a lot of tight turns in quick succession. It can feel pretty gimmicky playing with a wheel in those situations. Overall, though, there is a lot of fun arcade action to be had. If you have a VR headset, you may be interested to know that GRID works fairly well in VR using VorpX.
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