GRID (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 16.12.2019

Review for GRID on Xbox One

Codemasters has dominated the history of racing games starting with Micro Machines in the '80s. Since then they've grown to be a more and more realistic simulation racing driven company, something that likely began with the TOCA Touring Cars series and extended into Colin McRae Rally and series such as the official F1 games. This reviewer's love of racer games began with the first TOCA instalment, which included Knockhill Racing Circuit in Scotland (a local racetrack). The grid series began back in 2008 with RaceDriver Grid, originally an offshoot of the TOCA series, which had adopted the RaceDriver moniker in the early 2000s. GRID as a series was always well received by genre lovers, and it is exciting to see it back pushing the modern technology and pushing for new fans in 2019. Time to dive right in and race your hearts out!

The opening of GRID hits hard and is incredibly visceral. It drops you right into a race that is midway through and sets the challenge of reaching 1st place if you can. There are three in the opening one, of the best of which is a Nascar race which runs the player vehicle through a giant crash in slow motion before giving control. It's an impressive opener that really sets the scene, with violent, busy races, and an unparalleled sense of speed. The presentation of the opening and career mode, which is story-less, is like a presentation of the racing scene around the world, with the game covering eight countries with a variety of city and real race tracks as well as promising more as future DLC. Simply put, it's a very strong opener.

User interface-wise, the developer has opted for a simple layout that houses a lot of options. There are so many customisations for players who want to play either an arcade driving game or an almost full-blown simulation. This can be switching off the racing line, reducing helpful assistance options, and more. It's fully compatible with racing wheel accessories, though these weren't tested for review. Controller button mapping is as standard in current-gen racing titles, but can be tweaked in the options menu. One of the most helpful and reliable features for racers is the rewind function. This has been a staple throughout the series, and it allows players to rewind section of the race if they crash or make a mistake. Given the difficulty of GRID, this will be a must for some people.

Screenshot for GRID on Xbox One

This is a difficult racer, often one mistake can cost you the victory and often victory is just out of reach despite racing well. This is why there is the ability to set gear shift distance before each race, with short-shifting being essential in tracks with lots of sharp turns and long for courses with more straights. Taking the campaign mode into the limelight, it presents players with a set of themed threads, and each thread covers a different car or race style. These have their own bank of cars to choose from and buy with your winnings or if you buy the ultimate edition, simply pick. There is a fair bit of content for a single player and that's also where the game shines.

Racing in 16 car events, pushing other cars around and struggling to follow the track due to the number of cars in play! This game is fast, especially from the cockpit view, which every car has. When combined with the number of racers, it can get quite overwhelming and is probably not best for people who suffer from travel sickness. The campaign mode features around 500 challenges of varying difficulties. While the track list may seem limited at first, GRID has a well-planned set of DLC with three-season downloads each featuring a handful of new tracks and cars.

Screenshot for GRID on Xbox One

This is supported by a visual aesthetic that could be described as chunky, why chunky? Well, every car has a heft that's unlike other racers, such as the Need for Speed series where it feels like driving a go-kart, here the screen is shaking, sparks are flying, lights flare, and cars and scenery break apart in "accidents." It's all very satisfying and, especially on Xbox One X, very sharp and detailed. Tracks have great surfaces that reflect light, and weather effects run over their surfaces while the small crowds at the sides of the tracks have plenty of unique characters and animations, meaning that if the race halts for any reason, the immersion isn't broken. It feels very congruous without overfilling the screen or complicating the view with muddy effects or superfluous flare. It's rugged and polished, striking a great balance between games and reality.

The sound design is equally full-on in the sound department, with the aforementioned roaring engines and heavy impacts alongside these great sounds is some really fun and well-integrated non-immersion breaking commentaries and team interactions. Each event is introduced by a pair of commentators who have a bit of rapport with plenty of jokes and quips about how they expect things to play out. This can be skipped, and if it is skipped they will cut each other short with a natural "Looks like the race is getting started" before switching to race commentary - which may be drowned out by the action. The interactions with the teammate are simple and controlled with the d-pad, they can be asked to defend their position or to fight for a higher spot each of which will have them respond to the team with a yes or no based on their current position and condition, it's nice to have this ally because of the nemesis system.

Screenshot for GRID on Xbox One

In races, it doesn't take much to scrape by other cars or even in a moment of anger smash them out of the way, but with GRID, it pays to hold this action for as long as possible. Once hassled, other racers can become more aggressive, especially if you keep ramming them, and be designated as a nemesis. Once they become your nemesis it's time to be prepared to dodge and drive tightly as they will come after you and they will try and ram you off the road, spin you on corners or even block your overtakes by swerving into your path. This system breaths further life into the supremely chaotic racing especially when you have more than one nemesis. It's the driving force of this game's unique catches, and is really exciting when pipping the post from your rival in the last second. Genuine excitement.

Upon release, this was missing split screen, but the developer has promised this as a future upgrade to the game, which covers one of the major drawbacks to playing this early. The only other bad point, which may be an Xbox One X exclusive one, and has to do with asset streaming, is the intro. For such a fun, well-presented introduction, it runs really badly with lots of stuttering. This also may be addressed in patched and updates but otherwise, it doesn't detract much from the experience as the gameplay doesn't stutter or even skip a beat.

Screenshot for GRID on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It's not often a racing game comes along and hits the sweet spot between simulation and arcade, and yet that is exactly the balance that the developer haσ hit with GRID. Fantastic, speedy chaotic, gameplay, supported by some great visual and sound design, giving racing fans of all levels and abilities another great title this year worth diving into with gusto. Totally recommended to genre aficionados, especially after the inevitable split-screen update.

Developer

Codemasters

Publisher

Codemasters

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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   

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