There’s a lot of competition in the racing genre, especially on Xbox One and PC thanks to the Forza series. But there’s always room for another quality racer, especially one that goes out of its way to offer something a bit different.
Enter Codemasters’ GRID.
Playing through GRID‘s opening events on PC, one thing is clear from the outset to anyone with fully functioning eyeballs: it looks gorgeous. At 4K with everything set to max, GRID could just be the best-looking game available when it launches, especially when the adverse weather rears its ugly head. Cars are wonderfully modelled, lighting is sumptuous and tracks are dripping with detail. The little touches like sparks flying when you get a rub on with another racer and confetti filling the air when you’re approaching the finish line are the icing on the cake.
Considering the eye candy, GRID performs really well, too. My gaming PC isn’t beastly – it’s an ageing i5-6400 paired with an Nvidia RTX 2070 – yet it can run GRID at max settings with a near constant 60FPS if I drop the resolution down to 1440p. That’s not bad at all. I daresay I could get it to run at 4K 60FPS without losing much visual flourish if I tinkered with one or two settings, or simply switched to DX11 mode. Plus, the game’s not even out yet, so there’s still time for some optimisations to be made.
It’s GRID‘s career mode that’s going to make it enticing for racing fans. Offering up about 100 events, most consisting of multiple races, you’re not going to get through it in just a matter of hours. Events are split into many disciplines, and you can jump into them in pretty much any order that you please. Then, when you want to dive into another, you just need to make sure you have enough money to afford a vehicle to compete. There’s Touring, Stock, Tuner and GT, each offering something a little different. Then there are the Fernando Alonso events that aren’t for the faint of heart, and a whole host of invitational events. And of course, a career isn’t all that GRID is set to offer. Free Play will let you create your own events with any of the cars and tracks included, and there’s also online multiplayer.
The racing itself is what’s really going to set GRID apart from its competition, though. Perfectly towing the line between being an arcade racer and a simulation, it’s accessible and fun, yet also rewarding for those who display skill. It looks realistic and the racing feels intense, with loud, meaty thunks sounding out whenever you make contact with another car. And you’ll likely hear them often because you’re free to tussle with the competition and throw your cars into corners a bit. That’s not to say you can just hold down the accelerator and charge around the track like a maniac, though – the money that comes out of your winnings for repairs will deter you from that. And unless you brake for corners and follow the racing line, you’re not likely to place highly. Especially if you crank up the AI of your opponents.
I should mention that you’re not a lone wolf on the track, either. You have a team member, and their success is also beneficial to you. If they place highly you get more money, and if you want to come out on top as a team then you both need to put in a good performance. With just the push of a button you can check in on your teammates status, and even prompt them to either attack for a better position or go on the defensive. Though as you’d expect, pushing for victory can often result in mistakes being made. If you’re not happy with your teammate’s performance, you can even sack them and hire a new one. They may be more competent, but they also may want a higher cut of the winnings.
After playing a couple of hours of GRID, I’m looking forward to playing a whole lot more of it. The only worry I currently have is of the possible lack of event variety. I’ve taken part in circuit races, point-to-point races and time attack events in which achieving the fastest lap time is key to victory. They’re all good, but it would be nice if GRID had something else to offer to break up the action a little more. Regardless, everything I’ve played points towards it possibly being one of 2019’s must-have racers, right beside Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0.
GRID launches on 11th October for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Pre-order the Ultimate Edition for additional content and three days early access.