GRID revives the classic Codemasters racing series in a reboot of the beloved franchise. With 104 career events to beat set across 12 locations with more than 80 different track configurations, there’s plenty of options for you to live out your racing driver fantasies in what’s essentially one of the few new racing games to hit the market this year. It’s been more than five years since the last GRID game, and it’s the first entry in the series to launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. So, ultimately, it boils down to this – has GRID been worth the wait?
I really dig the accessibility in GRID. It’s a proper competitive racer than can be enjoyed by everyone. You don’t need to be a professional driver to master GRID, but it certainly isn’t too easy either. Various assists allow you to tune the game’s handling to match your skill and driving style. On top of that, I found the AI to be a proper Codemasters fair – they’re somewhat aggressive, taking risky moves that are oftentimes unforgiving. It allows for some surprising results out on the track, and naturally their driving ability can be fine tuned to match your racing prowess.
GRID introduces itself with three cinematic racing events that showcases the brutal nature of motorsport at its climax. You’ll experience GT3 racers, stock machines and touring cars in short-burst races fuelled by scripted action sequences to immerse you into the action even further. Whilst enjoyable, they do feel overdone. Once finished, you’ll be able to begin choosing which events you’d like to compete in.
The career mode is essentially one massive checklist of events, divided by the game’s numerous racing classes. So, you’re never forced to drive the cars you don’t want to use, unless of course, you’re aiming for total completion. Events are made up of various races or time trial challenges with optional hot-lap qualifying and tuning, all designed to showcase the game’s variety of cars, track locales and weather conditions. Beating events will also quality you for the GRID World Series, which culminates in a finale series against the revered Ravenwest Motorsport team, whilst unlocking unique invitational races along the way.
Furthermore, the progression in GRID is satisfactory and generally rewarding, which makes it enticing to keep playing and acquiring new cars. Overall, it’s a standard career mode that doesn’t bring much new to the table, besides the Fernando Alonso race events which see you take on his esports team, FA Racing Logitech G, as well as W Series World Champion, Jamie Chadwick in a series of challenges before eventually facing the acclaimed racing driver himself in a thrilling showdown. This combined with the unpredictable and aggressive nature of the driving AI makes the career mode a somewhat more enjoyable experience.
In fact, the developer has crafted 400 AI drivers, each with variable skills levels and personas that result in genuine mistakes, blocking and aggressive overtaking manoeuvres. You can even hire a team-mate to compliment your journey. There’s also a new Nemesis system, which encourages you to form rivalries and beat your biggest challengers akin to F1 2019. It’s a neat incentive that pushes yourself further during races, and the rewards dished out are worth the effort. Credits are paid out in fairly substantial sums, so acquiring new cars isn’t too much of a chore, and each can also be applied with numerous predesigned liveries. They also sound great too – the audio department is an area that Codemasters always excels in, and GRID is certainly no different. From the exhuast pops and crackles to the engine howls, it felt like music to my ears.
Should you like to personalize your experience outside of the career mode, GRID offers a Free Play mode that allows you to curate the cars, locations and weather options to be raced. There’s also a Multiplayer mode that allows you to invite up to 16 friends into a private lobby and fine-tune the racing or drifting to your desire. Meanwhile the public hopper will cycle between various race events. Sadly, there’s little customization here – it’s just whatever the game chooses to play. It’ll keep players together for the long run, but overtime, it’ll likely become repetitive.
GRID features some beautiful environments with a mixture of real-world and fictional circuits. Brands Hatch is a fantastic track for racing in touring cars, Silverstone is just unbeatable for GT3 machines, whilst the Okutama Mountain Circuit is brilliant for drifting in tuner rides. Stock cars perfectly compliment Indianapolis, whilst the Barcelona and San Francisco locations make for great driving all-around. GRID is also made up of various point-to-point tracks and traditional circuits, and whilst neither the track nor vehicle selection is massive by any stretch, the variety is there. It looks beautiful, too. Track environments are eye-wateringly lush, car models are highly detailed and on the Xbox One X, GRID delivers a sharp dynamic 4K output at 60FPS with HDR lighting to boot. It’s a truly wonderful visual showpiece. It’s just disappointing that GRID doesn’t pack a Photo Mode, as a title of this calibre would highly benefit from it.
Meanwhile, the car list incorporates various motorsport and street classes, so there’s a little something here for everyone. From the heroes of JDM car culture to Can-Am classics, open-wheels and endurance machines. In the future, this is only expected to grow with the introduction of hot hatches, supercars and hypercars. These are included with the game’s Season Pass, which will overtime also introduce 90 extra career events. It’s a neat incentive to upgrade to the GRID Ultimate Edition, but I’d only recommend it to hardcore fans of the series. Whilst there’s a lot to appreciate about the effort gone into this title, there’s little here that innovates or takes the racing genre forward. I can’t help but feel the already announced post-launch content should’ve been included from day one, considering the upcoming cars classes are typically part and parcel in other racing games.
Regardless, GRID is an accessible, exhilarating racer fuelled by some truly competitive opponents, and that’s something to appreciate. You don’t see many proper arcade track racers these days. Forza and Gran Turismo lean more into the simulation category, which leaves GRID to fill this void. Whilst I can’t help but ask for additional cars, more tracks and a significantly more robust online experience, GRID’s meaty career mode offers a race-fuelled driving experience like no other with unpredictable AI, several bespoke racing classes and some spectacular racing environments. But has it been worth the wait? In some ways, sure – GRID is a significant step forward from its predecessor, but other aspects of the game, such as visual car damage – have been pitifully reduced, whilst the competition, especially in aspects like online, track list and vehicle count, are well ahead of the curve.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.