GRID Autosport (Xbox 360) Review

By Kyle Henderson 03.08.2014 1

Review for GRID Autosport on Xbox 360

Coming just over a year after GRID 2, the previous game in the series, Autosport is clearly a response to that game's less than positive reaction. It features a retreat back to the almost-sim nature of the original game and its TOCA series before it and dials down the nonsense to deliver a pure sports racing experience.

Codemasters messed up with GRID 2, arguably for the first time in its racing game career. While reviews were at least lukewarm, the message from the community was clear: it was too dumbed-down, too arcade-y and didn't place enough emphasis on the thing that matters most - the racing. To avoid that rotten aftertaste lingering for too long, the team has drummed out Autosport in a year, to hopefully assuage long-time fans.

It's mostly successful, although it suffers for that short development time. There's certainly a re-focusing back on the track action and the handling feels just as good as it did in the original Race Driver: GRID. There's very little in the margins, the season mode is very simple and the distractions are standalone custom races, or competitive online racing. The standard mode set.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Xbox 360

Season mode is the real juice of Autosport and, like most fruits, the first few bites are the tastiest. It's structured in a simple manner, there's no innovation or gimmicks, no racing for fans or social media attention. Races yield EXP, EXP provides levels, levels unlock new season options. Each season is a sequence of race weekends with a running points total for individual performance and teams. While the straightforward nature of it will go down well with people who just want to race, it becomes repetitive before long and the later stages can feel like a drag.

Each season starts with the choosing of a discipline. Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner, and Street are on offer initially with more difficult GRID seasons becoming available as the player levels up. Each offers a distinct feel in both the racing and the make-up of the season; race weekends are structured differently, with different races, qualifying and practice sessions.

Touring features classic TOCA style action, with more recognisable cars and often more physical racing. Endurance has longer races that are won by distance covered rather than lap times. Open wheel is far more technical, with an emphasis on perfect lines. Tuner is all about style, with events focusing on drifting. Finally, Street involves tight city-based tracks that produce claustrophobic action.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Xbox 360

While success in each discipline ultimately comes down to the same thing - good driving - there's a welcome effort to bring variety to proceedings. This was, of course, one of the most praised aspects of the original GRID and also one of the many things the sequel was lacking in. Attempting to reclaim some of what made the original so successful is a clear goal for the developers here, with the grown-up driving and menus, the more traditional career mode, the focus on sport rather than the popularity contest, and the inclusion of many more tracks.

GRID 2 represented a culmination of a slow transition for Codemasters, the beginning of which can probably be dated back to DIRT 2 - the more casual, colourful, fan-oriented side of racing, with happy pop punk music, annoying voiceovers telling how gnarly the last race was and sometimes obnoxious menus. There's certainly a place for that style but GRID just doesn't feel like it, and that was the key issue with GRID 2, so to return to a more reserved and serious place with this game is appreciated.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Xbox 360

That desire to return to purer roots permeates the entire package. It's in the minimalist menus and the forgettable lift music that plays over them (it's very Gran Turismo). It's also there in the simple team racing that most disciplines offer, with a pit man talking in the racer's ear and the ability to give basic team instructions the only distraction from the car and the track. While the simplicity of the whole game may be in part due to the drastically shorter development time, it works in the game's favour. This is a much more natural form for GRID to take.

The much missed cockpit cam also returns, a bizarre omission from GRID 2, although it's an unfortunately pared back version. While the option exists to race from the actual perspective of the driver, car interiors haven't been recreated with the meticulous detail displayed in previous games - instead they are just a black blur regardless of what car is being driven. It's a step in the right direction, though, and probably just another unfortunate result of the limited development time.

While the changes between GRID 2 and Autosport could be argued to have drained the series of character, they are almost all perfectly suited to the style of racing that Codemasters is going for with these games. People who were upset about the decidedly non-serious attitude of the first sequel will find much to like here; a game committed to racing at the expense of everything else.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Xbox 360

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Codemasters has done the respectable thing with GRID Autosport. It has taken the overwhelming criticism of the second game and done its utmost to fix it. It could have taken a little longer to do so, and the team may have produced a richer game, but to want to get this apologetic entry out as quickly as possible is understandable. While not a must-play, for anyone who appreciates racing lines and car management more than whatever it is Need for Speed is offering these days, it's certainly recommended.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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