Had enough of hearing about Crysis? Codemaster's latest effort does to road racing what Codemasters’ Colin McRae: DiRT did to off-road racing.With GRID, the successor to Supercars (or more accurately the TOCA or Race Driver series as it was known internationally), Codemasters has raised the bar in every way. It does to road racing what Codemasters’ Colin McRae: DiRT did to off-road racing – it captures the drama, intensity, and above all, the spectacle of racing, without being beholden to realism or indulging in cheap arcade-style thrills.
Slide like a fool
The single-player campaign mode is simple and streamlined. Your general goal is to climb the ladder by winning races, which provides you with more money to unlock more cars, events and tracks. Events are grouped into three regions – North America, Europe, and Japan – and as you’d expect, events are tailored to each location. You’ll be racing muscle cars in North America, Le Mans in Europe, and sliding around like a fool in the Japanese ‘drift’ events.
|Look Ma, I'm drifting|
In addition, you have limited opportunity to customise the appearance of your cars, but beyond that, you can’t configure or tweak their performance in any way.
Get sponsored - virtually, that is
That’s the basic skeleton, and if unlocking cars and tracks doesn’t appeal, or you’re more interested in customising your cars, you’ll be better off with Simbin’s astoundingly pure GTR or TOCA series. That said, you shouldn’t discount GRID just yet – there’s some tasty meat on those bones. Take, for example, the sponsorship system.
Each sponsor you accept (you can only select a limited number) will pay you a certain amount of money if you satisfy a particular condition in a race – for example, one might pay $10,000 if you come first, another might offer you $3000 just for finishing. Selecting the right sponsors (and keeping them happy) provides another layer of strategy, variety, and intensity in each race.
|Replay "Flashbacks" let you ‘rewind’ the race to a previous point|
Once you’re on the track, GRID comes to life. The graphics are incredible, the engine sounds are meaty, and the replays are almost too spectacular for their own good – the ‘cinematic’ mode leaps around too quickly for you to see your car in action, and the fixed camera modes don’t provide enough flexibility.
Replays also give you access to a new gameplay element: Flashbacks. These let you call down a limited number of divine interventions, allowing you to ‘rewind’ the race to a previous point – typically before you’ve just smacked into a barricade. Racing purists will probably spit blood at the thought of such an option, but thankfully you can turn it off in ‘Pro’ mode.
and ...[cough]....there's AI
We said that Codemasters has raised the bar in every way, but that’s doesn’t mean GRID is perfect. The AI still slows down too much around corners and is either too aggressive or too passive, and playing online is laggy and provides too few cars (only 12). But these are minor quibbles for its intended audience. Codemasters has once again delivered a game that captures the variety, style, and tension of racing, while still managing to appeal to racing nuts and arcade enthusiasts.