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Jul 11, 2008
Available for the PS3 and Xbox 360
I’ll be honest; I’ve never been much of a fan of racing games. I’ve found them to be either too loose in over the top arcade style action or just plain boring simulations for gear heads. Grid is the latest racing game released by British developers, Codemasters into what is already an over crowded genre, but somehow they’ve managed to make a quality fun racing game that mixes the best of both simulation and arcade style racing.
In Grid you start off as a freelance racer accepting offers from various teams and earning cash for winning races. Soon you’ll have enough money to start your own team, buy your own cars and brand them with different sponsors as you see fit. Then you’ll be free to compete in three different geographical regions where, besides cash, you’ll also earn reputation points that will go towards unlocking new races. Europe features expansive track-based racing and endurance races like the Le Mans series. The United States is more focused on street racing and Japan is influenced by underground street racing with short winding tracks that are excellent for drifting. Each of these regions demands different types of vehicles.
Grid has 45 different cars to choose from, everything from Formula 1 to muscle cars and you can buy and sell them at will, however you will need certain types for certain races. Sometimes a race will give you little choice on which car to use which is disappointing, but all the cars are fun to drive and modeled beautifully. The cars take damage that can severely affect the way they drive, so avoiding collisions is important. If you do end up crashing, Grid offers players the unique feature of “flashback” that rewinds you to the point of your mistake allowing you to try taking that hairpin turn over again.
The controls in the game are responsive and they are also fully customizable which is great because the default setup didn’t feel very natural. Grid has several levels of difficulty for players of all skill levels and many driving assists that can be turned off or on. In multiplayer mode, Grid has support for up to 12 players connected via the PlayStation Network. All of the racing events from the single player game can be played online and if you are the one creating the match, you get complete control over the race types, race length and damage options. In the ranked matches these are voted for by all of the players in the lobby.
Graphically Grid is impressive. Menus are slick, intuitive and easy to navigate. Many of the races feature beautiful backgrounds, though you won’t have much time to enjoy them as you speed by. The game also features multiple camera angles and slow motion replays of your victories and crashes. Grid’s audio tends to be a little stale. There is constant canned chatter from your manager and team mates that get repetitive quickly. The game could have also benefited from a much larger soundtrack.
Overall Grid is a fun stylish racing experience. A well blended mix of racing styles has something for everyone and its flashback feature allows some forgiveness for pedal heavy crash racers like me. Hardcore and amateur racers alike should be pleased by this game.
Rating: 8 out of 10