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GRID The Verdict

GRID The Verdict

When I first played Codemaster’s newly rebooted GRID I had just come back from a weekend at the Wales Rally GB. A weekend of serious motorsport, off-road motorsport at that put me in the wrong mindset to play GRID for the first time. This isn’t a sim like Codies recent DiRT Rally 2.0 or their F1 series of racers. Nay, GRID is an arcade racer, and one with plenty of depth.

In my first few races in the Touring car class, I was trying to drive like this was a combination of DiRT and F1, a style which really didn’t suit the new GRID, and especially not on a racetrack. After a couple of races, I soon realised that leaning into GRID’s arcade elements was the best way to enjoy the action on course.

Everything is set about getting up close and personal with the other cars on track, while there isn’t any obvious rubber banding going on, the setup of the classes and events means that you will often end up in some bumper-to-bumper action, especially when diving into the first corner on any track. This action is encouraged as it plays into the Nemesis system which is highlighted as the great new feature of the game.

To be honest, I haven’t really noticed anything special with the Nemesis system. The theory is that if you get too involved with an AI competitor, they will become a Nemesis and potentially pose a danger to your winning chances. Sadly, despite being able to gain a Nemesis pretty easily after a few bumps, I haven’t observed any driving especially focused on knocking me out of contention. The handful of times I’ve been sent into a spin on purpose have been from random opponents I’ve overtaken rather than my Nemesis.

There is also a disappointing lack of longevity with this system. Within each class of racing there are thirteen events, culminating in a big blow-out Showdown event. As each AI driver is stated to have their own unique driving style and attitude, I was expecting to be able to build up a rivalry during the course of events within a class. Sadly not, with the Nemesis seemingly limited to a race-by-race basis.

It’s a missed opportunity, and one that turns what could have made for a meaningful series of races within each class into a block of standalone multi-race events. With something like F1 there is the narrative of the championship season, along with the ever-expanding routine of choosing development paths for your car. DiRT 2.0 has the challenge of the simulation, team management and championships to hunt for. Compared to its stablemates, GRID feels lacking.

Where it lacks in the niceties that have propagated through the genre, it makes up with variety. You have a number of main classes – Tuner for the fancy Japanese imports, Stock where you work your way up to a NASCAR truck, Touring which is a hat-tip to GRID’s roots in the TOCA games, while GT is my favourite featuring some of the highlights of the GT class in the World Endurance Championship. Aston Martin’s can steal my heart.

With different tiers of cars within those classes, there is a constant desire to complete events and earn much needed money to allow you to buy the next car up. Fortunately, to get to the Showdown events at the culmination of each class you only need to complete ten events. It’s a wise move in allowing you to get to a Showdown without being forced to grind through, or even get a podium, on ever event.

Beyond the main classes is a Fernando Alonso branded block of events. Clearly Fernando is bored in his time away from F1, but his name provides an easy way to shoehorn some single seater action into proceedings. However, like most games which aren’t the F1 series the single seaters here are fiddly and annoying to drive.

The invitational series though is the place to go if you want to get your hands on the best machinery. You don’t need to buy the cars here, saving you a pretty penny but still allowing you to get behind the wheel of legendary machines like the Ferrari 330 or the Porsche 917. Once you dig beneath the entry level cars in the regular classes, gems like these shine the game in a whole new light.

Even better, you don’t need to work through the invitational events in sequential order. A number of them will be unlocked once you have completed required events in the main classes. Just by completing five GT events, not even having to win them all, and I was able to take the Ferrari 330 out to Silverstone. Wonderful.

Despite the missed opportunities around the Nemesis system, the races are exciting. There’s a welcome mix of real and Codemaster’s crafted tracks, some of which you might remember from earlier entries in the series. It’s a thrill to see the AI racing each other hard, there aren’t any follow the leader races that you see elsewhere. I’ve seen opponents slide off wide at Silverstone, or get launched into the air around Havana while their tendency to flash you during night races is pleasingly reminiscent of real-world endurance racing.

There are options to perform a hot lap to try and qualify hire up the grid, but after a few of these I tended to avoid them. Starting from the default starting position of 14th is more than good enough to get stuck into the action and knowing that you can progress through events just by completing them takes the pressure off having to win.

Even playing on a standard PlayStation 4, the game looks stunning. The moody clouds of Silverstone contrast nicely with a sun kissed San Francisco, while a drenched city circuit around Havana pushes the tension up a notch or two. I’d love to see this in 4K on Pro, it’s sure to be a gorgeous sight.

The new GRID isn’t perfect, beyond the limited implementation of the Nemesis system you are liable to incur frustrating time penalties for corner cutting, great for a sim but feeling decidedly out of place in an arcade leaning racer like this. There are also some funky camera effects in chase mode where the camera zooms in closer to you when an opponent is close behind you. It’s disorienting and something I would have been happy to do without.

When I look at this new GRID, at first glance it seems a bit lightweight, especially when compared to its stablemates. But once you get stuck into the great racing and enjoy the variety of classes on offer, you’ll realise this is a welcome diversion from the sim heavy racing world we currently live in.

The Verdict – Headshot

Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Platform Reviewed – PlayStation 4
Review based on review code supplied by PR. Please see this post for more on our scoring policy.

Our Week in Games – Week 31

Our Week in Games – Week 31

With all this news of next-generation consoles, features they will include and exclusive games it seems I’m still living in the past. By far the most exciting piece of news for me this week was that Age of Empires II will be receiving an HD update exclusively for Steam. While the graphical update is minimal and not really all that it important, it will be featuring mod support and easy access to multiplayer gaming which is a big improvement. I could easily see this becoming my most played game of the year. Move over League of Legends, you’re not laughing any more.


Race Driver GRID Xbox Live on-demand sale

It’s been a long time since I’ve had proper fun with a racing game. Forza 3 was enjoyable as a serious driving sim and Horizon was a brilliant indication of what potential an open world racing game could really do. For me however, it had little replay value unless you have plenty of competitive friends on your leaderboards to provide a constant challenge. I’m talking about proper fun though, like you used to have as a kid.

Thanks to the recent Xbox Live on-demand sale, I happened to pick up a super cheap copy of GRID, a racing game with slightly more arcade roots. Despite its old age (originally released in 2008) GRID has stood the test of time well in most cases. Sure, the menu options are not up to scratch and yeah, it probably plays better with a controller than a wheel, but all that is forgiven when you start having fun.

Having damage always on was a brilliant idea as far as I’m concerned. Races become far more interesting with this unavoidable mechanic and taking out AI cars by clipping the rear of their car NYPD style is just far too tempting to resist. If your in the mood to hear the crunching of metal there is even a playlist (destruction derby) dedicated to smashing the crap out of each other. There are plenty of different game modes to sink your teeth into and even the online play isn’t all that bad, considering your actually expected to hit each other a few times in a race. Let fun commence!


True to my word I played Mass Effect 3 this week, and I’ll finish the Citadel DLC for next time, but for now I shall talk to you about… roguelikes!

Not since FTL have I played a sci-fi roguelike, so, uh, I guess it hasn’t actually been that long. But Sword of the Stars: The Pit (and proviso, I am not that familiar with the SotS setting) is a solid little offering. And the devs have already patched out my two main complaints, the lack of separate character save slots and the absence of mouse-control for targeting, which is a great start.

A turn based offering with a simple three attribute system and a few dozen skills, you take your character— either a Marine, Scout, or Engineer each specialising in Might, Finesse, or Brains respectively— down into the eponymous Pit, thirty floors of randomised alien weirdness, in a bid to save a surface colony from a nasty plague. There are doors to lockpick, machines to repair, computers to hack and, of course, massive hordes of monsters to kill: most of which wander towards you when you enter a new floor, rather than patiently waiting for you to come find them.

Being a roguelike, there is permadeath and random bullshit will irritate and annoy. But so far at least I’m yet to find an instadeath moment. Yes I’ve been brain damaged by unidentified chemicals, yes I’ve been mauled by half a dozen rats sitting beneath the manhole cover I climbed down through, but I’m yet to come across something that unexpectedly killed me outright. When I do die, it feels like it would’ve been avoidable, if only I’d made slightly different decisions in the lead up to that moment.

In related news, make sure you’ve got some armour-piercing weapons around because if you run out of ammo when there’s a goddamn Hopkinite about, it’s not fun. Floating little gits. Or chicken out and try it on Easy. Works for me!



This week saw the unveiling of the first chapter of The Last Doora sinister horror from The Game Kitchen. Apparently this game was made entirely for me; being a Victorian era low resolution adventure game, it ticks pretty much every box on my excitement bingo-card.

Lying somewhere between Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, TLD tells a creepy tale of late 19th century England. Although the puzzles are simple, TLD seems concerned far more with developing an atmosphere than making me scratch my head in confusion, something I’m greatly appreciating with little spare time on my hands.

After playing Home back in September, I’m sold on the idea that low resolution games can achieve a great deal in the horror genre. When your brain has only a few pixels to play with, you’ve no choice but to fill in the blanks yourself. 

In other news,  work has resumed on Galaxy Prime. It’s a randomly generated rogue-like I’ve been working on for about a year with no end in sight, but I’ve just hit that wonderful threshold where it’s actually become fun to play. Think Sid Meier’s Pirates in space, but, you know, not very good.

Good news crew, tonight we dine on space-calamari!
Grid 2 Teased By Codemasters – Reveal Next Week

Grid 2 Teased By Codemasters – Reveal Next Week

Oh my! That is a teaser trailer for Grid 2 from Codemasters and that has really caught my attention. The original was an awesome reboot of the TOCA series and few titles since have quite managed to match it. The teaser promised something else to come, probably the full reveal, next week on the 8th of August. Hell. Yes.