Game Review: Race Driver: GRID
Release: June 03, 2008
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3,PC
MSRP: $59.99(Xbox 360 and PS3) $39.99(PC)
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Let me start off by letting you all know that I’m really not a racing genre fan. Driving around in souped up cars is not something that really “drives” my interest. Games like Forza or Gran Turismo seem to bore me after a couple hours because, to me, they are lacking something. That something is called fun. But, on the other side of the spectrum, there are games like Burnout, which is extremely exciting and fun, but after a while becomes monotonous and starts to tire and wear on you. Codemasters has found the sweet spot between fun, excitement and realism. With games like Dirt, Colin McRae’s series having been developed by Codemasters, I kind of knew what I was getting into: racing that was fast, sort of realistic, a tad bit of over the top, and a whole lot of fun. Once again Codemasters pulled through with GRID. I knew what I was getting into and I love it.
You’re not going to get a Gran Turismo level of graphics with GRID, but you will get something that is very good. The tracks in the game are very beautiful and I really wouldn’t expect anything less. The cars in the game are sometimes amazing and other times lacking. I’ve noticed that this really depends on the value of the car itself. Some of the lower end cars almost look last gen, it doesn’t seem like the team really put time into these cars, instead they seemed to focus on the high end, expensive cars. And these cars look extremely good, especially when looking around your car or while driving in the cockpit view, which looks so nice in certain cars that even if it is harder to drive in this view you will tend to want to, just because of how well it looks on your television. While we are talking about the cars, I have to tell you that one thing that’s extremely important in GRID is the crashes and destructible cars and this is another area where the game excels in. The visuals on the car damage is excellent, several areas of each car is destructible and when you crash into walls or other cars you will see it and it looks great. Even though most racing games tend to spend most of the time tweaking the visuals on just the tracks and cars, you can tell that Codemasters spent quite a bit of time working on car damage and for that I’m extremely grateful because this is something that I notice the most and this is what I love the most about the visuals. The only thing that doesn’t really appeal to me in this game is the visual effect that you see when you are driving extremely fast, the motion blur. Now I understand that when you are driving at around 150 mph things won’t be completely clear, but in the game it seems like a distraction more then anything else. Other then this, the game is very visually appealing.
Probably one of the weakest points in the game is the audio. The cars sound good, the crashes sound great, the in game music is decent but GRID has nothing that sets it apart from every other game. Now I’m not sure if the team at Codemasters actually captured every different car sound like what’s done in Grand Tursimo and to be honest, that’s not really necessary in this game. All the cars sound the way you think they would sound, but at the same time, nothing seems to stand out from the pack of the racing games genre. The crashes in the game, do however, sound pretty nice. I love hearing some of the collisions that happen when I was crashing into walls are other cars but at the same time, just like the prior comment, there is still nothing that makes this stand out. There is several other things that you will notice while driving like the crowd noise when you drive next to the stands, the audio that is present when your slip-streaming off of other cars or when there is a engine from a car right behind you in your rear speakers, all of this sounds good but at the same time all of this has been done before at some time.
For me and for what I enjoy from my games, the gameplay in GRID really seems to make it stand out of the crowd. The game has several different types of races, all ranging from drifts races, destruction derby’s, head to head, normal races, and even the Le Mans 24 hour race (which is in an accelerated 24 minute format) among with a few more game types. With all these different types of races and different tracks this is where the game really excels. Just doing the races itself is loads of fun but when you add the instant replay feature (the ability to rewind and replay/redo a part of the race), the team rankings, the individual rankings, earning sponsors and the Xbox 360 Achievements (sorry you PS3 and PC users) you will see how much fun this game is. I find myself always trying to excel over everyone else so I can earn more money, buy new cars, get new sponsors and unlock new events. I am constantly trying to unlock new features. One of the new things that really helps the gameplay in GRID is the rewind feature, a single player only feature that allows you to essentially redo areas of the race where you can either replay the spot where you totaled your car or maybe just a turn that you scrubbed and maybe lost a few spots on the standings. Now at the beginning of the game this really isn’t a feature that you use quite often but the further you advance in the game the most useful this feature will be as the races tend to get more and more difficult. Other then that, I have to say that GRID, as a whole, is just a really fun game. While I have at times became extremely frustrated at the game, I have loved every minute of it.
The controls are a lot like the graphics. All done in a very nice way but nothing that stands out. Everything is really simple, you have gas and brakes done with the triggers (all on the 360 version), camera view changes down with on the of bumpers, steering with the left thumbstick, panning around your car with the right thumbstick. Its all like almost every other racing game. Nothing special but all really simple and easy to pick up and play
There are so many races in this game and so much to do. There are nine (ten if you count the head to head race that you get after you finish all nine races in each section) in each class in each division of the game. Along with that, there is another global division that is opened after you finish a number of events. So running out of new races is something that will not happen any time soon. What you will run short of is different tracks and locations. There is only something like seven different world locations and around 40-50 different tracks. This is what I feels, hurts the replay value of the game. Another feature of this game is the online multiplayer. Its, for the most part, pretty well put together. I did several online player matches playing against people mostly from Europe as they received the game early. I played around ten to fifteen online matches and I was pleasantly surprised to only experience lag in one match, and that was very brief. The lobby system was done in a nice way, the host selects if there is car damage, catch up, race length and a couple other things. After each race instead of the host picking the next race (always to his advantage) everyone in the lobby votes on what the next event is. This was a surprise to me as I really haven’t seen any other game implement this into the online the way its done it GRID. Its kind of a good and bad thing I guess. At times when I’m hosting I would like to only pick certain races but you can not do this with the voting system. Everyone as a whole has say in what event is done next and the majority of the vote determines the next race.
GRID, like every other “next-gen” game has a price of 59.99 on the consoles and 39.99 on the PC. The price is fitting I guess because it does have a pretty good replay value and very good gameplay but on a game where there are several areas that are well done but at the same time, they don’t stand out, I would have loved to see it dropped by ten dollars on all consoles.
As someone that really doesn’t like racing games, GRID draws me into it and I really have enjoyed almost every minute. As a whole, this game is a great package with almost every aspect of the game having a very solid score from myself, I really want to urge you all to check this game out. With the crashes, the replays and just the amount of events in this game you wont run out of things to do any time soon. And this is something that I can easily see myself going back to a several months from now just like I still do with DiRT.
Steve’s Bottom Line
If you have enjoyed any of Codemasters games in the past this is a must buy for you, I have no doubt about that. If not, I still think that this is a game that you need to play so you should at least rent this.