Race Driver: GRID Reader Review
Codemasters: King of the driving games. It started with Colin McRae Rally and TOCA Touring Cars, and we now have Colin McRae Dirt and Race Driver GRID.
GRID is essentially the answer to "What would happen if I took the Colin McRae Dirt engine and applied it to circuit racing?" The answer is simple: You get an amazing game.
Codemaster's slogan for GRID has been "It's all about the race" and it really shows. Like previous Race Driver games, this is all about quick-fire races where you must try to win championships. Starting off, the AI is amazing. It will fight amongst itself, it will make mistakes, it will spin off and it will punish you if you make a mistake. The only issue I could find is that it occasionally turned in on me, but only after a very ambitious move. Overall, a very positive start.
The other thing that makes the race impressive is that the atmosphere is first rate. The graphics are amazing, easily some of the best from any game this generation. The models are detailed and the environments are very lush and intricate. All the more fun to smash them to tiny bits! (More on that later). The graphics are made better by the framerate which never slips up and some awesome lighting effects.
The sound is equally impressive, with the cars sounding like you think they should and crashes sounding equally dramatic. The only let down is the team radio, which is well done but very repetitive. Your manager only has a couple of ways to tell you that a car has spun out, and the same phrases repeat a lot. Add this to the fact that he's only correct around 60% of the time, and you will come to dislike your manager rather more than you value him.
Getting on to the actual game, the handling is pretty arcadey but is also fast and responsive. It all adds up for a rewarding handling model which also puts some emphasis on realism. The only segment where this falls down a little is in the drift challenges which work well enough but feel a little clunky compared to the rest of the game.
One of the best features is "Flashback". Flashback allows you to rewind time a limited umber of times per race should you crash or spin or anything like that. You get a short replay where you can choose a point to restart from, then a quick button press and you're back on track. The only thing I miss is an inability to save replays, as you can achieve so spectacular crashes thanks to the amazing damage model. GRID is happy to let you smash a £12 million into a deformable tyre wall ad it never gets old.
In terms of structure, GRID is divided into 3 regions, the USA, Europe and Japan and each has their own selection of races. Generally, you'll find something to like, although the drift challenges are a little clunky and feel out of place with the rest of the game. In reality, I found myself largely ignoring Japan, and instead focusing on the US and Europe.
So that's Race Driver: GRID. A quick fire, good looking and great handing racer which serves up a treat. There are a few issues, but in light of all of the big pluses, you won't have any trouble overlooking them.