Grid Autosport Celebrates Racing - a 360 Review
This review was conducted on the Xbox 360. Game experience may differ depending on the platform (especially what you expect from a game may differ)
This review is focused on the Singleplayer of Grid Autosport
Grid Autosport reaches back to its roots to celebrate the sensation of racing.
For some people racing could seem boring. Going around in circles on the same track for hours. Doing the same thing every lap. They just don't get it. They don't know how hard it is to stay consistent. They don't understand the thrill of hitting every apex. Stepping on the pedal just mere milliseconds earlier than the car ahead to get a better exit from a corner. Fighting the same guy for laps and laps and laps while trying to learn their weak points and then finally going for the overtake. Priceless.
Racing is hard. It is not for everyone. But for those, who love it, it is the most thrilling, exciting, adrenaline-pumping senstation in the world.
Racing is hard. It is not for everyone. But for us, who love it, it is the most thrilling, exciting, adrenaline-pumping sensation in the world. Because of the same reason it is very hard to do a racing game. Not technically, because racing games might not be the hardest to make, but it might just be one of the hardest to make a really good racing game. A game that can capture the excitement and drama of cars going around in circles.
Did Grid Autosport succeed? Let's find out.
Grid 2 choose to go down a different path than Grid 1. Grid 2 wanted to reach out to a bigger audience. It wanted to be the next Need for Speed. It choose to have a very arcade-y handling. Cars sliding in corners. Apexes being nonexistent. It has disappointed many fans. Fans of the original game, who expected the second one to be a step up. For them it was not even a step backward rather the devs turning their backs to the original game. Luckily Grid Autosport is more Grid 1 than Grid 2. Even the name indicates that it is a fresh start. It is not Grid 3, it is Grid Autosport.
Codemasters choose to name the game Grid Autosport instead of Grid 3. They might want to continue on the path of Grid 2 with simply a Grid 3 and start a more serious series with Grid Autosport being the first game in the series. Who knows?
Luckily the handling in Grid Autosport is much better than it was in Grid 2. It is much more Toca and Grid 1 esq. It includes a lot of different cars, and they succeeded to capture the feel of them. There is still a bit sliding around included, but mainly on corner exits, and the cars that should have a lot of grip barely slide around. It is now more viable to hit the apexes on the corners than drift into them. You can still do that, but it won't get you far on harder difficulties. With some exceptions the cars feel really good to drive, and it is a very important thing for a racing game.
Oh the looks!
I really did not know what to expect from the Xbox 360 graphics on the game. All of the trailers were PC footage, so I was interested to see what kind of graphics would the old consoles get, and how stable the frame rate can be. Surprisingly the game looks pretty good on console. Especially in motion. The frame rate is also stable for the most part. There are some drops when mass accidents happen, but I am very satisfied with the performance. Even the loading times are great. In times when I can make a tea while GTA loads, Grid seems to load just in a few seconds (not literally, it takes a bit more). The only problem is the cockpit view. It is blurred. I am not sure if it is a time saving decision, an aesthetic decision, or just a simple performance decision, but they are blurred. It might be really hard to get over for some people. I was kind of disappointed aswell at first, but got used to it after some races. They are so hectic that I don't have much time to stare at it anyway.
The damage models are also pretty awesome. Bits and parts of the cars are flying off from collisions, bumpers getting ripped of from cars, and generally all kinds of carnage looks good in the game.
Sounds Alright to Me
As far as the in-game sounds go there is nothing really outstanding here. It is not the case of bad sounding cars or anything, everything sounds as it should. It is just not really outstanding, just simple good. I guess it is kind of hard to impress someone with car sounds after they have tried RaceRoom Racing Experience...
It is pretty good. On harder difficulties they put up a real challenge. They are aggressive, so you every small mistake takes its toll. They are not perfect like in the Gran Tourismo games. They will make mistakes, they will spin each other out, and make massive accidents. But it is all part of racing. Accidents happen on the racetrack and it makes the game feel more realistic. It is thrilling to see a car flip upside down on the straight while you avoid them at 250km/h.
The other thing the AI does pretty well is racing. This game has real racing. It is not just a case of starting from the back and stepping over every AI then coming into first. You will often find yourself in a place where you can not easily progress forward in the field. You will have to chase each of the cars down, learn where they are slow. It is real racing. It feels damn good.
The game has multiple disciplines to choose from. They all are quite different from each other, so I will talk about them one by one. Please note that all of this will be based on the Career in the game. Each discipline includes main categories that you will race for the most part of a season and cup categories wich are mid-season races with different cars than the main category.
There is a custom cup mode, that allows you to create your own cup with the cars you want on the tracks you want with the rules you want. If you want you can have 5 events (1 event = 1 track) with 3 race in each event with race 1 starting grid based on qualifying, race 2 starting grid based on previous race results reversed, and race 3 starting order based on championship standings reversed. The possibilities are endless.
The main categories in Touring are ... well touring cars. I know, it's thrilling. Starting from Tourers of last year WTCC, then some DTMish cars to some illuminati fast tourers that I simply can not recognise. The cup categories include some interesting retro tourers, mini and classic mini cups (because the minis are always awesome to race). The races are usually pretty hectic, with a lot of contact and accidents. You are almost guaranteed to not bring the car home without the need of a new paint job (or a door).
The main events in career are usually 2 race events with qualifying. First race qualifying order and second race is last race results reversed. It is nice, that the second race gives a chance to catch up in the standings as the AI is pretty though to beat in qualifiers.
The main categories in open wheel include F3 cars, old AutoGP cars, and Indy cars. Cup events include some lightweight vehicles like the Ariel Atom, and KTM X-bow. The speed is really awesome in the open wheel cars, and contact should generally be avoided as they are very fragile. It is still ok to do some wheel-to-wheel racing, but it can easily end wrong.
Main events follow a two race format, with quali, and both races going in quali order. I really think the second race should go quali reversed order, to make up for a not so good quali (especially since you can not restart qualifying!).
Main cars include, GT2, GT1 and LMP2. It probably has some of the most interesting cup cars. There are old LMP cars, and even a Ford GT Mk.40 cup, which is a pretty rare car in racing games. Sadly there is no Ruf in GT2. *sob*sob*
Main events are one 8 minute race with tyre wear. Competitors start in quali order, and should try to preserve their tyres throughout the race as much as they could. Sadly there is no pit stop included. It could have been much more interesting with a mandatory pit stop. There were races with mandatory pit stops to take in Toca Race Driver 3, where you could decide to try for a longer first stint, then push it in the last few laps, or maybe push the first few and then try to survive. I think this category falls short with long races, and the unnecessary struggle with tyres.
Tuner A.K.A. the remains of Grid 2
Although the cars in this category are not that bad, the races are. In the main category there are mostly american muscle and Japanese tuner cars, as well as in the cup categories. Sadly there is no category where you can pit the american powerhouse engineering with the agile Japanese cars. It's either muscle or import. Also there is drift.
Main events are mostly time attack events which is an abomination taken from Grid 2. In these events you go around the track doing hot laps. Like in qualifying. Except it is not.
There are mainly stock cars in this category ranging from hot hatches to hypercars like the Pagani. They generally handle very well, as they are stock cars they can be a bit slidy, but it is awesome to fight the car, and stay in the pack.
Events are usually one race events with starting order of the championship standings reversed. This is the category that uses most of the street track the game has.
Luckily the game includes a ton of real life racing tracks. Some of them are classics like Brands Hatch and Spa, while others are brand new like the Austrian GP track that debuted this year in F1. I can't even say if there is another game that you can race the Austrian GP. (I know it is in Grid 2, but that is not racing). Along with the racetracks there are some city courses aswell, most of them are reused from Grid 1 and 2.
There is room on the couch
It has split screen. Awesome split screen. The frame rate is stable for the most part even on split screen, but it does drop a bit more at times. If you can overlook that you would get one of the best split screen racing games. The AI can be added to races, you can have multiple events, with a mini championship going on. And everything is really acceptable you can set the driving helps for each player to make up for skill differences. Heck I had awesome races with my little brother who is just 12! He challenged me for the win, and it was awesome wheel-to-wheel racing. I am really happy they did not screw split screen up.
All in all, I think Grid Autosport is a really competent racing game, that is focused on fun. It is really enjoyable, and there not have been many good racing games for the old box lately. The last game I enjoyed this much was Forza 4, but that was released 3 years ago. If you are into some more serious racing, but does not have time for a simulator I can definitely recommend Grid Autosport. With the custom cup added, you can always come back for even a full championship.