GRID Review – Pissing Off Other Drivers Can Be a Bad Thing

Developer Codemasters has unleashed its latest racing title upon the world. Is GRID race ready and worthy of your hard earned cash, or should this one be left in the garage?

Read on to find out

Developer Codemasters has been making games since 1986 and created their first Touring Car Championship game in 1997. Since then, they have released 9 more racing titles in the series, expanding to not only have touring cars but Formula 1, GT, and muscle cars as well. They turned to two-time Formula 1 World Champion driver Fernando Alonso to act as a Racing Consultant to assist them in creating a truly authentic racing experience, and that was a smart choice.

The Long and Windy Career Road

The career mode is where you’ll find the meat and potatoes of the game. In order to reach the GRID World Series, you are going to have to spend a lot of track time, and hard earned GRID bucks, just to unlock that final series of races. The career is split up between four different categories of racing types, and six different collections of series of events. In order to unlock the category finale, called a Showdown, you’ll need to complete a set number of events or defeat a set series within a category. Some of these events consist of just one race, but most have 2, 3, or 4 races in an event. That translates into a lot of racing just to unlock the final set of races. For example, the touring category requires 10 events won which is a minimum of 24 races in order to unlock that showdown while the Tuner category will have you racing a minimum of 26 races to unlock that showdown.

Actual racing is split into a couple of basic types. You have a time attack mode where whoever has the fastest lap time after three laps wins and then you have the standard race type. A standard race will allow you to either run a flying qualifying lap to determine your GRID placement or start at the rear of the pack. Depending on your skill level and difficulty setting, that qualifying lap might be pretty important, or it just may be a waste of time. You’ll have to run through a few courses and see where you fall on your skill level to determine that. There’s also a team aspect to an event and you’ll have to hire another driver in order to compete as a team. Drivers have specific skill sets and skill levels, so be sure to choose the best driver for your current event.

Nemesis System

In order to create a more authentic, and sometimes hostile, race environment Codemasters created the Nemesis System. This is a system where certain drivers can easily get pissed off at you and do whatever it takes to either take you out, or finish ahead of you. It really doesn’t take much to piss one of these folks off, as we barely brushed up against one guy and he proceeded to play crash-em-derby with us. Just because some other driver isn’t marked as being borderline aggressive doesn’t mean you can’t piss them off. We intentionally started at the back of the pack and tried our best to see how many other drivers we could offend by violently rear ending them, and we ended up with six pissed off peeps chasing us down and trying their best to take us out. Fun times as long as Terminal Damage is disabled and the Damage Level is set to visual only. Otherwise those folks would have left us waiting for a tow truck trackside.

It’s a great system but did have its shortcomings. Some of the driver’s anger would carry over to the next race in an event, but not all of the folks you pissed off cared anymore. Once you completed an event, all of the anger seems to dissipate and none of the drivers care anymore that you violently (intentionally?) tried to take them out. This short term memory takes away from the drama that could have followed you through your career and it really feels like Codemasters dropped the ball somewhat. Maybe these other drivers have a impressive anger management coach, but human nature says some of these people should hold a grudge, at least a little bit. Each AI driver races a little bit different, and each driver seems to have their own breaking point when it comes to pissing them off, but they all forgive you at the end of the event.

Each AI Driver Feels Unique

It’s really interesting to sit back in 4th or 5th place and watch the AI front runners battle it out for position. Every AI driver has their own skill level and traits, and watching an AI driver go from 1st to 4th because they took a corner too hot is not what you expect to see from an AI in a video game. It’s also odd to see 3rd place spin out because 4th bumped their rear end just right. It’s honestly not what we have come to expect from a video game. The AI is almost human in that they can commit errors just like the rest of us, and lose positioning or crash out and have to call it a day due to their own stupidity. The computer has always been flawless up to now, and it was paramount that we were flawless in order to defeat them. Of course there are highly skilled drivers in this game that require near perfection to defeat, but it’s not every car on the friggin track even if the difficulty is set to Very Hard.

Adaptive Damage and Control System

The Damage Level for the game can be set to Full or Visual Only and your vehicle will slowly get beat up if you aren’t careful. You can also turn Terminal Damage on and off. If you are new to racing, stick to visual only to start out with as the damage can really slow your vehicle down if you have enough of it. When set to full, we noticed that not only did we lose power if we hurt the engine area or transmission, but the body damage makes a difference with the fast cars at high speeds. We were in a car that could go 230+ MPH at Indy and we had hit the straight once already. The car felt almost glued to the track as we got up over that 230 mark. We were subsequently rear ended going into a corner by someone we had pissed off and our back spoiler was damaged. When we hit that straight on the next lap, the car felt like it was going to fly off of the track, it got loose as a goose and squirrelly as hell. That damaged spoiler clearly made a noticeable difference. As for Terminal Damage, your vehicle can be totaled and your race day would be done.

Depending on your skill level, you may want to turn on the Flashback feature, which allows you to rewind a race a small amount of time. Take a corner too fast, too wide, or get pushed off the track? On the PS4 you just have to press the triangle button to back the race up to right before the mishap. You can set this to infinite or to a set number of flashbacks per race, again your skill level should determine that. You can also adjust the ABS, Traction Control, and Stability Control. GRID uses a 3D racing line that can be turned on or off or just be on at the corners. The racing line in the game has to be one of the best we’ve used, as it not only changes colors, but also raises like a flap when you need to slow down, and raises and turns red when you need to break. It’s very informational and can help new drivers learn proper breaking and cornering techniques.

Impressive Graphics and Track Recreations

When playing the game on a PS4 Pro, the graphics are impressive. Well detailed cars, inside and out, with damage stripping them down to chassis and frames, gives the game a realistic feel. Whether you are racing in Havana Cuba or Brands Hatch in England, the tracks look just as impressive. There are 13 different locations, with multiple layouts at each, which add up to 82 different tracks you can race. Weather is also nicely recreated with puddles slowing down your car on a rainy day or a beautiful sunset blinding you as fly into a corner at 90 MPH. GRID really is a gorgeous game on a PS4 Pro.

This being developer Codemasters first foray into this generation of gaming, they did a decent job of creating a graphical beast that outshines all of their previous installments in the GRID series, and allows the gamer to create a set-up that is either a fun arcade racer, or somewhat more of a difficult racing simulator, all determined by the difficulty settings. Anyway you decide to play it, just know it’ll be a fun time.

 

8


GRID review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.