So many GRIDs to enjoy.
Codemasters’ GRID 2 was a really good driving game. Managing to sit comfortably in both the arcade and simulation racer camps, it could appeal to all manner of videogame racing fans. However, it wasn’t perfect…
And it seems that the developers knew that something was missing with GRID 2 as, in only a year, the sequel is set to arrive for our gaming pleasure. With some new and interesting racing games on the horizon, both for the PC and for home consoles, GRID Autosport will have to raise its game to compete and find a spot on the podium when it is released this month.
So it is that I sat down to play through a preview build of GRID Autosport on PC. Not my chosen platform for racing, but certainly enough to give me a taste of what is to come once the game is finished and released.
Firstly, I feel that I should mention a couple of things that will make a difference to the followers of the series. Cockpit view is back, and it is looking better than ever. The absence of cockpit view was a disappointment in GRID 2 and its return, even though I never actually use it, will undoubtedly be applauded by the fans.
Also, the handling seems even better this time around. Whilst there are many different types of handling due to the different driving modes, which I will cover in a few, overall things feel more precise, maybe leaning that little bit further towards the simulation camp.
One for the couch co-racers, Codemasters have included a split-screen mode. Personally, there is nothing better than indulging in some racing action with a friend on the couch next to you. Online play is all well and good, but where is the fun if you can’t try to distract your opponent in the real world.
Anyway, the menu is more streamlined this time around, with the options for a custom race, online mode and the previously mentioned split-screen mode sitting alongside the bread and butter career mode. The first three are pretty self explanatory, and the career mode is likely where players will spend the majority of their time, improving their skills with the various modes before trying to take on the world.
In career mode, the player is thankfully spared any kind of overriding story, with a much simpler option to gain contracts, race, level up and gain even better contracts. Again, simplicity seems to be the key word, getting the player into a race rather than having to struggle through pointless dialogue.
The player gains experience as they race, through achieving the goals set in their contracts, or by completing challenges within a race, which are dependent on a variety of different factors, such as the players level. Experience is also adjusted according to the level of difficulty the player is racing at, something which can be tweaked between the races. Earn enough experience and the player will level up, opening new options. Like I said, simple.
What are more complicated however, are the different racing types that the player can choose to compete in. There are five different types of racing in GRID Autosport, and they are all quite different from each other. The player chooses their racing type and are then stuck with that for an entire season. Fortunately, the seasons are fairly short so players are given ample time to experiment in the career mode. Mind you, when the player changes from one discipline to another, there can be quite a shock as the player will have to adjust their racing style to suit the new discipline.
The Touring Car mode will see players racing in tight packs and instructing their team mate along the way, with grid positions flipped for the second race. There is a lot of precision and tactical thinking going on here. Street Racing, on the other hand, is all about driving hard and fast in much more common street cars. Open Wheel racing will feel comfortable to those Formula One racers out there, with the emphasis being all on the grip of the tyres and just how fast they can come out of a corner. Endurance racing takes the action after dark and will have the player driving more cautiously as they try to preserve their tyres or completely lose any sense of handling. Finally, there is the Tuner racing, which offers a little variety from the rest of the pack with such events as simple time attacks to drift competitions.
The tracks are as varied as the modes, with a selection of real world tracks that racing fans will recognise, to tracks that have come directly from the previous game. They all look really nice and are enjoyable to race on.
So this is where we stand. GRID Autosport is out in less than a month, so I don’t know how much more they can tweak before the game is released. The preview version that I tried felt vastly improved over GRID 2 in more ways than one, and the variety available in the game certainly means it will appeal to most videogame racers. GRID Autosport looks set to be as feature-packed a racing game as anyone could possibly need and will undoubtedly be able to compete with the other upcoming driving titles. Grid Autosport will be racing into stores for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC on June 27th.