GRID has a long history and held a lot of respect with developer Codemasters being the best at producing racing games.
The first release of the series in 1997 was actually called TOCA Touring Car Championship, and as the name suggests was a racing sim based on the 1997 British Touring Car Championship, and was on release the best console racing game.
Codemasters built on the success and reputation of TOCA, morphing the series into a more international racing game that included everything from open-wheelers to the Aussie V8 Supercar series. The name changed from TOCA to Race Driver until 2008 when the series essentially got renamed GRID.
And then Codemasters took a break and then released two GRID games in quick succession in 2013 and 2014 before once again putting the series back in the garage.
The last two games saw GRID lose a significant amount of its pedigree, falling from a decent racing sim to sitting firmly in the arcade racer spot. The thing that saved GRID was a decent online community that made it one of the best online racing games around.
Now Codemasters have decided to dust this old classic off and give it another run, and boy does it run.
It’s the old familiar arcade GRID from a few years back that gives you the instant gratification of being able to throw yourself around in high stakes pack racing situation, hurtling through corners, sliding, nudging and seeing body parts fly off. It’s a balls to the wall racing game that is a lot of fun if lacking in substance.
Codemasters has also tweaked the game, with some great AI drivers and a nemesis system that does away with the need for punitive punishments – though cut corners at your peril – meaning that if you like to use other divers as a way to get around corners without using your brakes, or legitimately brake too late going into a corner and hit another car, you run the risk of them turning into your nemesis for the rest of the race. And this isn’t just a fancy name for some minor driving tweaks, your nemesis is literally the John Wick of race car drivers, and will do whatever it takes to prevent you from winning.
Sadly this seems to be the only real bit of innovation in what feels like a very vanilla game. Sure the game is massive amounts of fun and looks gorgeous, but it also feels soulless and empty.
And that’s not the worst of it.
Every single racing game since TOCA fully became GRID has had to prove its mettle as an online racer as this is where most of the racing is going to be done. And in my experience with this re-launched GRID, no one is playing it online. GRID has stalled on the grid and now only seems capable of being a single-player game. Now, this may be a great thing for a big segment of the gaming population, but no one I play with would touch a single-player only racing game.
Now maybe I’m doing something wrong and there is a massive online community playing GRID – and if there is please someone tell me how to access it – but if that’s the case then the game is broken as it’s not obvious.
Maybe Codemasters should go back to its roots, and build a game from the ground up, based on the highly competitive British touring car series, with a definite lean towards simulation and see where that takes them. Through in a thriving online community and I’ll be the first to jump in.
Rating: G Suitable for general audiences.