Quite simply the best racing game ever made!
Nowdays there are two racing games series which are really worthy to be called "car racing games". One is SimBin's GTR/ Race series. The other one was the Colin McRae series, property of Codemasters. After Colin McRae died last year, it was obvious that DiRT, the new Colin McRae game, would also be the last. So that's how an extreamly successful & great racing series had ended. The big surprise was Need for Speed ProStreet turn into a solit & enjoyable racing sim,& then I said that ProStreet is king over street racing.How terribly wrong I was...
In June 2008 I got hold of GRID,even if I didn't know so much about it, having seen only a very interesting trailer. Then I found out it was Codemaster's new racing game,so I got really excited & played it.The result... is obvious.
The similarities between GRID & Colin McRae DiRT are obvious even from when you enter GRID's menu. The menus, options, career concept, loading screens are very much similar, which proves that GRID is Colin McRae's series follow-up. For you to better understand what this game is, I'll tell you it's a combination of DiRT, Race 07, Need for Speed ProStreet & Need for Speed Carbon. Now I'd like to enlarge about each aspect,so we'll talk about the career, cars, tracks & some other unique things.So, let's start!
If you played DiRT you'll immediatly recognise the career's system. At first the game throws you in a tutorial race where you are shown the basics of the game & you are free to compete in the race. Then you'll be taken to the Career Central. Here you'll be able to create a team & customize the cars' appearance, trims, colour, numbers & all that. You give it a name & that's it. After that you'll learn that there are two quite different tpes of events in which you can take part. The driver offers are the key for the begginers & for the teams without much money. Basically, you particiate in races by representing other teams. Now you get a fixed amount of cash if you complete the event & bonus money if you accomplish other objectives, such as finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd , 4th ,5th... ,finishing ahead of certain teams, lapping in less than the specified time or hitting a certain speed. Now you'll start with these but after you've progressed a bit in your team you won't need them anymore. The second & the most important type is the "Race Events", simply said the career. It looks exactly like in DiRT, I mean it's a piramid of events each one with one or more races. You'll start & the bottom & go till the top. Simple as that. The difference is that the events in GRID are divided into three: USA, Europe & Japan, each one with their own specific cars & tracks. After you complete a region on a certain level of the piramide, you'll be given a head-2-head race with the even't champion, one of the guys from Ravenwest (the nr. 1 team). You should win those,cause you get some good dough out of them. After a while you'll be able to choose a teammate to come with you in the race. Each one has a certain speciality, skill bars & asks for a certain percent of the earnings. You can always hire & fire teammates,but a good mate is really important in your career. Now there are the sponsors. You'll put their decals on your car & they'll give you money after each & every race if you completed their requests...such as finish on a certain position, finish the race, finish without damage,etc. They're a really important income as you progress further into the game.
Here we'll talk about how each & every type of race takes place. So take a look at the event list:
-Simple Circuit Races
*These races can be touring cars races, prestige classes, prototype races & more. Basically ,in here you'll compete against several teams on multiple lap circuits. Simple enough.*
*Drift seems really popular these days & many racing games try to get it to perfection but I'd say only GRID managed to really do that. There are more types of drift races included, such as the basic drift on special tracks, drift races on improvized tracks (such as industrial districsts in Japan) ,downhill drifts (you know them from Need for Speed Underground 2) or a mix between a circuit race & a track drift (the one with most points wins, but the position also counts...when the 1st racer finishes the other's points go down till they pass the finish line). Now about the drift mechanics, you'll have to slide your car as artistically as you can to get points. You gain a lot of points from combos but a really important feature are the flags. Emplaced at tight corners, the closer you get to them, the more points you get. If you bautifully slide right near a flag & maybe get a multiplayer, it may be enough for you to win the whole damn race! Oh,& don't forget not to hit the walls or you'll lose your points. The drift races take place as championships, you know, with qualifying rounds, semi finals & finals.*
*Now the touge tracks may be the most intersesting races in the game. They exclusively take place in Japan on hill sprint tracks, one on one. On one round,to the top of the hill, one racer is in front & the other one behind him. The one behind should stick as close as he can behind the one of front...hell,he is allowed to overpass him if he manages to do that. But he must not hit his car,or he'll get a time penality. The downhill round is exacly viceversa...the other one in front & the other in the back. The one with the less time in all wins. It's also as a championship.*
*The midnight touge is a sprint race on longer touge tracks which takes place at night. It's also one on one, but here is only one round & if you want to win you must be first. That is, if you don't crash into traffic or if you don't fall down the canyon. This is pretty much Need for Speen Carbon-ish, just much much better.
-Head 2 Head Events
*They vary from circuit tracks, touge sprints, downhill midnight touge, drifts ,prototypr & even the Le Mans track. They take place between you an an opponent from Ravenwest,either Nathan McKane or Rick Scott. If you really can't manage these, then try to take out your opponent. The simplest way to do that is crashing with your side in his front wheel while sliding at hight speed,he'll lose the tire & game over for him. Or just throw him in the canyon in the Japanese races!
-24 Hours Le Mans
*This is the toughest type of race in GRID. It is maybe the most challenging track, it's very long & it's got a lot of hard turns, & dangerous,straight portions where you'll go 400 km/h+ & you can crash at the slightest bump. As in every glass-based race, it's important to get a good spot in your class, ignoring the classes ahead of you. It takes place over 24 hours,that means day & night. If from the start in the morning till evening it is a quite hard competition to occupy better positions, everithing slows dofn during the night. It's quite hard to see the track so you & your enemies will slow down a bit. In the morning,about 2 hours before it's over,all hell breaks loose. Everyone goes as fast as hell, risking everything to overtake their competitors. In such times a tense music plays, making you even more determined to focus on your driving.
Now about the specifcs for each types of tracks. The ones in USA have quite long portions of straight road, ussualy take place on streets downtown,with many obstacles & tight turns. The European tracks vary from long, pretty much straight tracks (Belgium) to true turn-challenges, with a lot of 180 degree cornering & serious braking (Nurbungring & Istambul Park). The Japanese ones take place usually at night, downtown big cities (the Shybuya tracks), on special circuit tracks without too many turns & in open field & the special hill sprints I talked about. Codies say the tracks are licensed & look exacly like the real ones; I took a look at some picures with the real ones & I have to say, they're perfectly similar. Cool,huh?
Let's talk about the cars now.I already told you the classes (Touring Cars, Prototype...blah blah blah),so now I'll speak about the 3 cathegories.The American cars,as you expected,have great acceleration posibilities & awesome track stability (on the track,that is). The European cars reach great top speeds & corner greatly. The Japanese ones not only corner greatly,but they slide awesomely & also have an extravagant look.
You'll need a bit of practice in order to get used to properly control them, but then it will get an easy task & you'll increase the dificulty level. GRID is a mix between a racing sim with a bit of arcade part. The controls are as I said very realistic...the cars react accordingly to the speed,the turn's angle, the break/acceleration alternances & of course,the surface it adheres to. In most cases I recommand the short corner, a small break before getting into it, then without accelerating steer your wheels in that direction. When your wheels get back into forward position,push the acceleration as hard as you can & there you go... You can always use opponents to corner tight turns,but be careful & hanbrake a bit before that, so that you crash with your side,not the bonnet. Just don't try the same thing with walls, cause it's ouch for your poor car. And don't get on surfaces such as sand or grass at high speed with normal wheels, cause you'll spin out or roll over. You can do that with a car with larger wheels,such as the Dallara Formula 3 for example.
The damage your car takes from crashes affects the performance. If you damage your cooling system it's bad, cause the engine will overheat & may blow up,or just go slower. Damaged suspensions means steering problems,& heavily damaged wheels mean almost no chance to stabilize your car once again. The damage engine is really spectacular,but the car parts physics was a little bit better worked in Need for Speed ProStreet.
There is the concept of flashback, or rewind, call it as you like. If you crash you hit the flashback button & you can rewind the action to the spot where you fell like continuing the race. You then press play & try not to make the same mistake again.Of course there is a limited amount of flashbacks, depending on your difficulty level.
The big problem of GRID is the car customiztion option...which really don't exist. As I said in the DiRT review, it's not really bad, but it would be nice to have at least a small variety of parts for you to choose the most appropriate one in different situations. Also I haven't seen meteorogical events such as in Race ,which would have seriously boosted the game's racing atmosphere.
*****Money & Reputation*****
So,money is really imortant to buy new cars (either new ones or if you can find a good deal on eBay Motors) & to hire team members. You get them from completing events, driver offers, the sponsor's requests or team wins,which are really an income boost.You can try to do buisness on eBay but I don't think it's too profitable. Each team in the charts gains a certain amount of money in each race it participates in. You'll start only with a few thoulsand dollars, & by the end you'll be the top team in the chart, getting about 20 milion dollars per event. Reputation goes only on team members,not the team,& is build by winning events. You get a substantial amount on events (diffculty up means earnings up),but the driver offers don't
I'd say that the same graphical engine from DiRT was used in GRID,because they have a hell lot of similar aspects. But in GRID it's clearly improved, the result being not only the best graphical quality in any racing game up to date, but maybe one of the best-looking games of all time. The tracks look incredibly detailed, with high-res textures & all that, really well modeled & also painted in very appropriate colours. The asphalt is asphalt, the sand is sand, the grass is grass...& that's even with the lowest settings on,which is incredible. Not only that it looks better than DiRT but it runs better, getting smooth frame rates on high level of detailes even on a medium specs computer. The cars look the most impresive, with an excellent level of details & everything. As you crash the paint will fall off & the car's body will get a number of scratches. The only "flaw" that GRID's graphics have is the damage engine. Of course,it's spectacular & quite better than in most other games,but the problem is that the damaged parts don't really have physics of their own. Remember Need for Speed ProStreet, where a broken side mirror would keep balancing over the window, sustained only by a couple of cables? You won't see this in GRID. Fortunatelly,that doesn't matter so much, cause the racing atmosphere in this game is absolutely fantastic. I don't remember feeling so tense in any other racing game, sitting on the edge of the chair & praying not to crash in the last turn.
To start with the music, I have too say it's not in a large amount & it might get a bit repetitive after a time. It's mainly electronic music,which won't bother you at all. At least they didn't go down with low-grade music,which is unfortunatelly present in a lot of racing games lately. Also,when the implementation of music during the races is done very very well. At low speeds there will be no music, as you speed up the music starts playing really silent. At high speeds or in intense situation the music will go out loud, determining you to focus more on the road, which is absolutleey great. The voice acting is not proffesional, but it's good enough & fits well,so no complaints about it. The best part is the one with the sound effects. The car engines all sound realistical & different from each other, the crashes also are really well done... I won't get into detail here,but I tell you this: you will be amazed.
DiRT's great problem was the lack of a competitive multiplayer, only allowing us to race trough single-races by comparing the checkpoint time with the other players. The guys over at Codemasters learned from their mistake & gave us one of the most satisfying racing multiplayers ever made. As intense as the single player, but one thing is beating the AI & another is beating your neighbors. Be sure to try it!
All in all,GRID is the best racing game of all time. Combining spectacular arcade with hardcore simulation, GRID pleases both sides of the gamers. If you also consider the amazing graphics, great sound effects & the very competitive multiplayer, you won't be able to stop playing it. Trust me...