Developer Codemasters is well known for its “Touring Car” (or “TOCA”) series of racing simulations. Dating back to 1997, the series is still evolving and delivering epic, submersive digital racing experiences. The 10th entry in the franchise and soft reboot of the 2008 title of the same name, GRID is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Streamlining the career racing experience
If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you are likely aware of my preference for minimalism, particularly in sport game menus and objective paths. I always appreciate a linear path to my sporting game objectives that doesn’t involve excessive and unnecessary branching options or hidden objectives. As such, I was immediately impressed by GRID‘s career mode.
GRID lays out its entire career path in one confusion free menu screen. There are 6 primary event lines to compete in. Each is a series of races building towards a final showdown event. Completing just 4 of these showdowns will earn the player a qualifying position in the GRID World Series—the final endgame of career mode.
Each path offers a different style of racing, such as Touring, Stock, or GT to name a few. Along the way players will obtain newer, better cars for their livery using in-game reward currency. Your objectives are clear, concisely laid out, and the next goal or reward is always visible on the horizon.
I’ve played so many racing sims where goals are unclear, or where objectives are scattered, hidden, or outright difficult to follow. It may not be for everyone, but personally I love GRID‘s no-nonsense approach. As a somewhat OCD gamer I can easily follow each path on my way to racing glory.
A little help from my friends
GRID may not feature dynamic “drivatars” made up of friends or other players like certain competitors, however it does try to create a racing environment with personality nonetheless. It features 400 unique AI drivers, each with their own skills and “persona”. These traits will affect how each AI racer drives, so getting to know your opponents and their tendencies by name is beneficial.
Throughout your career you’ll be able to sport one AI driver as your teammate. Your teammates abilities therefore become a benefit to you, and selecting the right teammate can help you succeed in your current objective. New teammates can be purchased with in-game currency or unlocked through progression.
Your teammate doesn’t just provide you with additional rewards—they actually attempt to influence the race in your favour. Based on their strengths and skills teammates will attempt to work with you with co-operative racing techniques. In-game rewards will also increase with overall team success.
Know your enemy
Alternatively, you can also make enemies mid-race through GRID’s “Nemesis” system. Failing to follow proper etiquette or bumping an AI opponent one too many times may set them off. A disgruntled opponent thus becomes your Nemesis, and will take the opportunity to rub you out in return if they can.
It lends an odd sense of sentience to GRID’s AI “personas”. In the past a player might bump and grind against the crop of cookie-cutter AI cars indiscriminately. The Nemesis System in GRID however gives an eerie feeling, knowing that each car remembers you, and one ill-timed bump may be enough for them to take your actions personally.
Naturally defeating your Nemesis in the race gives additional rewards. This adds to the thrill of the race and gives meaning to victory even when not coming in 1st place. Additionally, random rivalries may also appear in a race regardless of race behaviour. These rivals provide additional victory objectives and more rewards for defeating them.
A short stack of tracks
When it comes to locale, GRID is a bit on the lean side. There are just a scant 12 circuits across 8 countries to race in, which is generally fewer than most racing titles of the same caliber. New tracks are coming down the line in future releases however, albeit likely at an additional cost.
That said, a variation of routes for each circuit does ultimately add up to over 80 different racing scenarios. In that regard it isn’t that you’ll be racing only the same 12 configurations over and over. And those tracks that GRID does offer are certainly both enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.
Furthermore, GRID also allows for the creation of custom racing scenarios. Here you can choose custom cars, tracks, and win conditions across multi-race events. Once your ideal race is ready, you can even challenge your friends.
A very forgiving game
GRID definitely offers a challenge for racing veterans, but I would argue its best features keep beginners in mind. For starters, it has a standard rewind feature that can be used at will and with seemingly little or no penalty. This is great as it allows racers to learn from their mistakes and still progress with in-game rewards.
Secondly, GRID allows players to race a lap for their grid position with each race. Unlike racing games that usually start the player at the back of the pack, in GRID it’s easy to earn your place at the front. What’s even more useful to beginners is the ability to repeat this process over and over. You aren’t stuck with the results of your first attempt, but rather the hot lap for grid position can be repeated prior to a race.
GRID is a focused racing sim that’s light on locations but otherwise heavy on fun
GRID is by all means a competent racing simulation for beginners and veterans alike. It has a lot of features that are welcoming to new players, but still offers challenge and innovation at more difficult settings. Career mode is streamlined and engaging, and the “Nemesis” system is an interesting take on rivalry.
There may not be as many unique locales in GRID in comparison to other racing games, but route variations to offer some level of extended playability, along with custom races. The locations that are included look great, and controls are fun and intuitive.
+ Well-developed career mode
+ Teammates, rivals, and nemeses
+ User-friendly features
– Limited number of racing circuits
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF GRID
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.75/5