Its been a while since we’ve seen the GRID franchise from Codemasters. The last outing we saw was back in 2014 with GRID Autosport, but the developer has been busy with tons of other racing games in between, like 2018’s crazy Onrush. After a few maligned titles, Codemasters is attempting to rebrand the series, and while this doesn’t necessarily feel like a full-fledged reboot, it’s a little closer to something like how Devil May Cry 5 switched up the DmC formula.
It’s important to note that GRID falls somewhere between arcade racer and racing sim. It’s not nearly as in depth as the F1 franchise, but it’s more focused and precise than Forza Horizon. It’s a fine line that Codemasters has nailed in this outing. Instead of easing players into things, GRID opts to toss players into a series of short races that introduce a few of the key mechanics here. It’s a smart way to get things going, even if the rest of the experience seems locked behind the season pass.
GRID launches with 13 locations, less than the first GRID’s 15. It won’t take players long to burn through most of the content. I say most, because after a certain point you’ll end up grinding out some content in order to unlock new vehicles. I wish there had been a better progression system here, but instead it occasionally stalls (see what I did there?)
But when GRID really gets going, it shines. Races are fast and intense, and there’s a real weighty feel to all of the vehicles. The AI plays incredibly smart, and even when I’m well ahead, taking a turn too quickly can easily mean the loss of a few spots. The aggressiveness of the AI is something I’d like to see more from other racing titles, even if it results in me losing more often.
The weighty feel of the cars is much more noticeable when you bash into others, or others bash into you. Pieces of cars can go flying around, or hang off the edge of your ride until you get hit again. They’re small details that really bring the immersion to GRID, until the grind picks up again. Since the main launch feels light on content, it’s unfortunate that the later hours are so grindy. I’m pretty convinced that a lot more locations are locked behind the season pass, which is a shame, but the core gameplay feels great.
On the bright side though, there are no microtransactions here. Sure, some might find it easier to spend a few real-world bucks in order to be able to progress in a specific series. In GRID, if you find yourself short some cash to buy a new car, you can replay races or hop over into a different series. This is how GRID manages to stay fresh, even during the grind.
The car selection in GRID is also top notch. There won’t be an over-abundance of cars to buy and earn, so if that’s something you want, look elsewhere, but the curated roster both looks great and feels great to play. Each car is painstakingly recreated in a fantastic love letter to the car manufacturers.
The nemesis system is GRID’s latest and greatest. If you end up hitting a certain drive a few times, they become hell-bent on coming after you. They’ll do whatever it takes not just to overtake you, but does so very aggressively. They don’t care if they hit you and take you out or just pass you. This adds an extra element of intensity to each race, in a generally calm racing game.
On top of all that, GRID is absolutely beautiful to look at. The race cars have their own personalities with the nemesis system, but the tracks and locations are just as gorgeous. Players will race through Sydney, Shanghai, Indianapolis, and countless other locations as they overtake their rivals. Each location is stunningly realized, and the attention to detail is spot-on. As an Indiana resident, the Indianapolis track hits home for me, and having such varied locations is breathtaking.
It might not have the same attention to detail that other racing sims like Gran Turismo Sport or the F1 franchise, but balancing the line between racing sim and arcade racer really paid off for GRID and Codemasters. The stunning locations and tight controls make GRID worth playing for ultimately any racing enthusiast. It stumbles a bit when progression becomes difficult without enough credits, but bouncing between series helps immensely, and earns it a top spot amongst racing titles of this generation.
GRID launches October 11th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Preorders are available here.
- Beautiful tracks.
- Weighty feel to the cars.
- Nemesis system adds extra intensity.
- Fine balance between arcade racer and sim.
- Progression occasionally stalls.
- Not "simmy" enough for some, not "arcadey" enough for others.