GRID Autosport (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 04.10.2019

Review for GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch

When was the last time a Nintendo console had a serious racing game? The likes of the annual releases of Formula One, for example have not appeared on there since F1 2011 on 3DS, and that was all but an impressive outing. Racers on the Wii U, outside of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed and Mario Kart 8, were practically non-existent, except for the absolutely excellent, but poorly sold arcade style Need for Speed Most Wanted U. What about serious racing in recent years then? Any in the genre that were actually good? GRID Autosport on Switch aims to be that game. It may not be a pure simulation, as it offers a compromise between arcade-like speed thrills, and realistic handling of cars, but it's the closest thing the system has received so far to something like Forza. It's different for sure, but gamers should be pleased to see it happen anyway, even if it's not the next big GRID release coming out on PS4 and Xbox One, just shortly after this one.

GRID Autosport on Switch, for those unfamiliar with previous releases, is a port of a 2014 PS3, Xbox 360, and PC game. That one was, itself, an enhanced re-release of GRID 2, which had not been received quite as favourably as its ground-breaking predecessor, Race Driver: GRID, which first introduced the time rewind mechanic called "flashback" that other racers like the Forza series now imitate. This Switch release of GRID Autosport then offers everything the original had, bundled with all of the DLC released so far. This includes over 100 cars to choose from, and 20+ different locations to race on, which means 20+ race tracks proper, but even more "routes" on each location. Indeed, depending on the discipline being played, each track may adopt a different configuration that lends itself to the type of ride as well as the way the cars are being thrown on the asphalt, be it through drifting contests or endurance tests where preserving tyres is the goal.

In conclusion, this is very feature-filled, with lots of car brands, types, and models to choose from, and most if not all of the big names in racing tracks are present. No complaints there then, except perhaps the nit-pick that there's an almost retro feel to it, because the line-up of cars present here is a product of its original release time-frame on the older generation of machines. That is to say, the line-up of cars has not been refreshed to reflect the racing models of 2019, but, still, it's hard to scoff at what's on offer, and the feeling of driving a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport 1184 hp is still one heck of a rush.

Modes are aplenty too. The usual suspects are present with Time-Trial and Quick Race both allowing to choose from any car and track out of the gate. The types of races present are also aplenty: classic racing, time attack, the aforementioned endurance mode, eliminator, checkpoint (which acts as your arcade-like experience where checkpoints need to be passed before the countdown hits zero), demolition derby, the aforementioned drifting contest, drag and, finally, sprint. The meat of the experience, however, is in the career mode. That mode offers five discipline types, each of which may introduce race types from the aforementioned list.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch

'Touring' offers typical races with qualification sessions and then the races proper against other CPU cars. 'Endurance' forces the player to play it safe and manage their tyres to the end. 'Open Wheel' pits against one another One-Seater cars in competitions like Formula 3 where collisions with other cars on the track are to be avoided at all costs. 'Tuner' mixes drift and time attack events together in one tournament while offering players muscle cars to play with. Lastly, 'Street' is what the name suggests: racing through the streets of big cities around the globe in tuned production cars and hyper cars with varying road width and surface types. Career mode tracks an experience level in each of the discipline types and experience points are earned by winning tournaments, and fulfilling the demands of sponsors on each race, either that of the team selected, or of competitors which will then offer the player a car on their team in future seasons if he or she manages to impress them. Passing experience level thresholds in each discipline unlocks the 'GRID Series' discipline for that level, which is the most challenging as it mixes elements from all the others in one tournament, putting all that earned experience to the test. Completing Career mode is a daunting prospect that could last a very long time indeed, especially if one is to unlock every possible team and sponsor under every competition.

A selection of extra Drag, Touring, and Sprint championships not present in career mode, thus not contributing to overall experience levels, are then added in for good measure to offer even more substance to what was otherwise an already compelling package. It's also possible to create custom cups by choosing from existing tracks, disciplines, cars, weather conditions and so on. The amount of choice is not overwhelming but plentiful nonetheless.

GRID Autosport on Switch feels therefore packed with content and indeed it is. It surprisingly weighs only 6.4GB by default, with an HD texture pack available to download for free from day one that pushes it to a total of 9.3GB when fully installed from the eShop. One would assume this was made to fit on an 8GB cartridge at retail, however this being a download-only release on Switch at time of writing, it is a bizarre choice. Maybe it is meant to allow players with less available space to still download and play it, or to make those looking for faster load times happy perhaps... unless a retail release is planned down the line, who knows? Load times, with the game and its HD texture pack installed on a micro SD card, aren't super short, but manage to still feel acceptable anyway.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch

On the topic of technical prowess, this is where GRID Autosport shines the most. It was capped at 720p and 30FPS on older generation consoles, with only the PC version allowing for higher resolutions and frame-rates. The Switch version offers multiple graphical settings, which is a rare enough sight to be applauded. One can choose from graphics mode, which appears to be a 1080p resolution in docked mode and 720p in portable mode, both capped at 30FPS, while performance mode unlocks the frame-rate which then hovers between 50 and 60FPS most of the time, but only rarely achieving its target of 60FPS. To achieve the latter, resolution is restrained as well as certain visual effects. For example the otherwise animated 3D models of the audience members get turned into still cardboard cut-out versions of themselves and certain reflections on cars and some of the shadow rendering get toggled off.

Portable mode then offers yet another setting called "energy saver" which does everything that performance mode does, while also capping the frame-rate at 30FPS like graphics mode, to reduce the load on the power hungry GPU to its minimum, ensuring the longest possible play sessions on the go. So many choices are a rare sight on Switch, and it makes such releases even more appreciable. The level of polish just feels simply amazing and puts to shame other ports like V-Rally 4, though admittedly the latter was a port of a current gen game... but still! It is a good-looking Switch title and scenery pop-in is kept practically non-existent. The polish also extends to control options, with tilt motion controls being available, as well as support, in docked mode anyway, for the GameCube controller adapter to allow the use of its analogue triggers for the throttle and brakes pedals. It's not that this is unplayable without analogue triggers but it does feel better that way, undeniably.

Another option allows throttle and brakes to be mapped to the right-stick, which indeed is the only way to fine-tune those elements while driving, in the absence of wired GameCube controllers and especially on the go - but this does indeed feel a bit too unnatural. The option has the merit to exist at least. Then, HD rumble is also implemented and the feeling of the vibrations of the car, collisions with other vehicles and the feel of the different surfaces being driven on like asphalt or even the paved roads of the streets of Dubai feel amazing in your hands.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch

However one thing does feel missing from such an otherwise extremely polished racing experience on a system like the Switch, which had been lacking such a really good one up to this point: multiplayer. GRID Autosport, at time of writing, offers no split-screen mode, no local wireless multiplayer, and no online component either. Not even leaderboards. This means that the only way one can enjoy their intense racing action with this game... is against the CPU. There are multiple difficulty settings, ranging from rookie to master, where things can get really tough, and plenty of driving helps to toggle on or off like auto-braking and a trajectory guide so that the challenge can be tweaked to suit everyone's need to keep things interesting and the adrenaline pumping throughout. Still, this doesn't allow one to measure up their skill against another human being, which may restrict its long lasting appeal. Feral Interactive promises a patch for online multiplayer is in the works for the future, though, but no word on local multiplayer.

Then, on that topic, there is something to be said about it feeling a bit too repetitive. Going through a career mode season, especially at first, there is a sense that the same locations get revisited over and over, especially when qualification have to be taken before the race proper and often the same race has to be competed in twice over before being allowed to move to the next race track. Granted, those are the types of rules that do happen in real life racing, and certainly those that yearn for an experience as close to real life as possible will like it but, for most people, it will possibly feel a bit too repetitive, and best experienced in shorter bursts. Lack of in-race music also tends to make repeating the same thing a bit even duller than it ought to be.

It's understandable that it doesn't have any though since this game was first designed for PS3, PC and Xbox 360 which all allow players to play their own music over the game's audio. Here, however, the Switch doesn't allow for this kind of thing, so while nothing prevents players from playing their own music at home to accompany the racing action... it's a different story on the go, where setting things up in such a way that it is comfortable to enjoy with music will be trickier. It's a shame, really, because the lounge music that plays during replays and menus (that almost lends it a kind of Ridge Racer Type IV vibe), would have been fitting for the kind of mood that each racing track conveys.

Screenshot for GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

GRID Autosport, in its Switch incarnation, is a technically accomplished port of a solid entry in a genre defining franchise that falls right in-between arcade fun and driving sim. The level of polish to ensure maximum performance and visual fidelity in both modes is astounding and Feral Interactive deserves all the praise it can get for it. With solid gameplay, a wide range of difficulty options, and an amount of content to please everyone, it is the de facto best serious racing game on the system at the time of its release. However, repetitiveness and complete lack of multiplayer at launch, hold it back from being absolutely perfect in every way.

Also known as

GRID Autosport

Developer

Feral Interactive

Publisher

Codemasters

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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