Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
A racer with cinematic flair
- Best-looking racing game on the market, tons of variety with different vehicle classes, events, and venues
- No vehicle tuning, basic single player structure, plain multiplayer
It may be a little basic in some respects but its a fun and energetic racing game.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
As gas prices continue to climb higher, speeding along miles of digital asphalt isn't a bad alternative. GRID rockets past other racers with its cinematic flair and spot-on handling, shifting into gear with an inventive flashback system and gorgeous graphics. That lead is short-lived, however, as the lack of vehicle tuning and basic structure leave it a bit square.
Back to the future
On the single player side, there's more than enough high-octane action in GRID to go around. A lengthy career mode called "GRID World" has you earning cash and acquiring reputation points by competing in events ranging from muscle car runs to endurance challenges to tuner races. The structure is exceedingly simple: win races and you progress deeper into the game. Similarly, multiplayer takes the same basic approach. All of the events and venues unlocked in "GRID World" mode can be accessed online with no added frills.
Since the lack of sophistication won't motivate you, the game relies on the sheer quality of its driving to get you working. Races are fast, furious, and undeniably satisfying. Handling is superb, straddling a fine line between simulation and arcade mechanics. You'll notice wild differences in handling among the various vehicle classes, enough so that there's a real challenge when moving from a muscle car to a tuner. Should you slip up on the track, an innovative flashback system enables you to literally rewind the action and resume the race. It's a forgiving addition that prevents you from having to restart events due to unintended errors.
Racing a la carte?
Unfortunately, GRID lacks something that's common to most other racers: meaningful vehicle customisation. While team branding allows you to set a colour scheme and paint pattern, vehicle tuning is completely omitted. All of your hard-earned cash can only be spent on buying new cars, not refitting those already in your garage. With only two dozen available vehicles, there simply isn't enough variety to counter the egregious lack of tuning. To be fair, it's an intentional omission geared toward making the game widely accessible and in that regard the game succeeds but it was still disappointing to not be able to head into the garage and make tweaks to my car.
Still, despite its rather basic approach, GRID does deliver an intense model of racing that is as enjoyable as it is plain. The lack of vehicle tuning and the dearth of available cars leaves one corner of this square missing, but that doesn't keep it from rolling along. When you consider that it can cost as much to fill your gas tank as to buy a copy of the game, it's that much easier to be hip to the straightforward, yet energetic racing that GRID offers.
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