Gripshift Reader Review
The art of the "Stealth Release"
Odd isn't it how the run up to christmas features such a huge flurry of games releases, that inevitably the odd one or two gems will fall by the wayside, only to be discovered purely by chance languishing in the January sales bin just as you're nervously wondering what you're going to do with those unimaginative vouchers Auntie Dora bought you for christmas, and stuffed into an inappropriately "kiddie" card, despite the fact that you're 38 next birthday.
So yes, this is how I entered the world of Gripshift, a world where gravity is practically non existent, and women are impossibly beautiful, men are impossibly duderific, and cars are impossibly dune-buggytastic.
(Note : The reviewer is prone to making up his own words where none will fit, but they're all clean, after all this is a family show).
Jump up, jump up and fall down
As the article abstract says, this game cannot really be classed as a racing game, though there are buggies, checkpoints and timers in it that might lead you to believe that it's all about racing. Nossir. To be honest, it treads warily over ground previously covered by the likes of Digital Jesters' "Trackmania" in that there are platform elements here, and a fair amount of puzzling.
Gripshift's tracks are impossibly suspended in mid air, floating high above limitless drops which will pitch your buggy into an endless abyss never to be seen again (until you restart the level of course). Aided by the floaty gravity the idea is to get from the start to the finish, via any checkpoints along the way, collecting collectables and avoiding obstacles, traps, and various other nasties.
It might seem obvious at first that there is pretty much a well defined path between start and finish, but the aim is to do so as quicklly as possible to garner the all important gold medal for each level, swelling your credit score enough to progress through the difficulty settings. Sound easy? Not so, and a lot of the time you will have to learn not to fear Gripshift's terrible drops, and will have to learn to take the odd leap of faith here and there.
Add teleports, mad elephants, fans, jump-pads and nasty shovelly things and levels become more and more challenging as you progress.
OK so there is a racing game in here, hiding, cowering
That's not to say that there isn't racing action here. Some levels involve racing against AI opponents with the aim of crossing the finish line first, in fact there's a championship mode outside the main challenge mode designed purely for race fanatics. Oddly for me personally, I actually thought I'd enjoy the racing element more, but ended up horribly addicted to Challenge Mode and the bizarre platformy goodness therein.
So you think you're done? Nope, stay put. Added to Challenge and Championship mode are more goodies. Firstly there are the minigames. Think Super Monkeyball's odd little "pool / bowling" minigames and you'll get the idea. The minigames are a fun little diversion but can prove to be a bit shallow so don't linger too long, especially as we haven't even covered the most amazing part of Gripshift...
...the track editor. Yes folks, you read me right. This is a PSP game, and yet it manages to shoehorn a fully fledged and beautifully simple to use level editor into your PSP. Sidhe (the developers) claim that any levels in the game can be made with the editor, and this is definitely true. Comparisons are inevitable to Trackmania's editor but personally I prefer Gripshifts, as it seems easier to use, and though it does have a block limit (for obvious reasons) you can still make some fantastically complicated and pleasing tracks. I've spent hours monkeying with this particular part of Gripshift, and the beauty of the game is that you can trade home-made levels with friends and race mulitplayer on them. Superb! Now why don't we see stuff like that in more games eh?
Bear in mind that you're getting a fair amount of bang for your buck, and given that Gripshift can be picked up for a tenner from some games stores (and in fact only retails for £19.99 RRP) you'd have to be mad not to pick it up to swell your PSP collection a bit. It's very addictive, superbly presented and prettier than the girl next door (assuming you live next door to Jennifer Connely).
7 / 10