Thursday, 23 June 2011

Race Driver: Grid

Motor racing has been around for decades, it has brought fun and joy to millions through Formula One, Le Mans, Touring Cars and many other forms in other parts of the world, such as Drifting and Touge in Japan and Muscle Cars in America and Australia.
    You can try your hand at all of them in Codemasters' classic racer.
    Starting out as an amateur driver in a new team, you are tasked with bringing in the money by first racing for other teams in order to bring a Mustang back to life as your first team car. After that, the world opens up to you and you will begin racing for your own team and start catching the eye of sponsors. This is where the customisation comes into play.
    Rather than allowing the player to upgrade the car's parts, you are only given the option to create your own paint job from existing designs and customising the colours to suit your own preferences. Then you name the team, add sponsors (all of which come with objectives to fulfil in order to receive the cash bonus) and later add a team mate, once you have earned enough to hire one.
    There are three territories to race in: Europe, Japan and USA. Every territory comes with its own distinct racing events and courses, all with varying degrees of difficulty and sense of identity, brought to life by breathtaking visuals. Through winning races, you will gain reputation points that will eventually unlock licenses to race in the higher tiers and, eventually, race in the Global championships – six events that mix and match courses from around the world.
Grid's, erm... grids offer up to 20 racers at once!
    And that does not include the Le Mans 24 Hours race at the end of every season. Simulating a 24-hour clock complete with day and night cycle, this race takes around 10-15 minutes to complete and offers multiple classes, just like the real thing. Winning your class is the only objective you have – the ultimate aim being to buy your own top-tier racer and win the event outright.
    It is the racing itself that takes first prize though, with fantastic physics that convey a real sense of connection between driver and car, tyres and road, offering the most direct control of any racer and then coupling it with the best AI. The computer-controlled racers will fight for position, yield the racing line and, though rarely, they will play dirty.

    It is at these moments when the Flashback option comes in handy. No longer will you have to restart an entire race when something goes hugely wrong (and in Grid, you can total your car so “hugely wrong” is inevitable for even the best driver), instead press the Flashback button and you can rewind a few seconds and get straight back into the action – just remember to learn from your mistakes!
    From casual beginnings through to fierce competition in later events, the difficulty is customisable via AI level, Pro Mode (turns off race restarts) and various handling assists that can be turned on or off, making it an extremely accessible racer for everyone.
    Many new games have come and gone since Grid's 2008 release: Forza Motorsport 3, Need for Speed: Shift and its sequel Shift 2: Unleashed, and of course Gran Turismo 5, but not one of them has managed to recreate that perfect blend of realism and a touch of arcade fun that Grid so gleefully flaunts.
    And that is why the unconfirmed sequel still sits at the top of my 'most wanted' list.