For many ardent fans Codemasters’ Colin McRae: DIRT is considered the best Xbox 360 arcade racer. Whilst it might have lacked a decent online mode it more than made up for this in playability and with some eye-catching visuals to boot! So where in fact does Codemasters’ new race fit in exactly? Hot on the heels of the success of Colin McRae: DIRT last year, Codemasters return with a new racer known simply as GRID or Race Driver GRID as it’s called in Europe, with the new racer on the block which features the world’s best racing vehicles and some really iconic locations. Previously used in DIRT, Codemasters new boy operates on an updated Ego engine and becomes the latest racer to grace the Xbox 360 which of itself can be considered a sequel to the highly esteemed Colin McRae: DIRT.
Digging into the solo events in Grid World the game can become frustrating rather quickly and even more so if you are well used to the much more forgiving DIRT and PGR racers. It is in this context that GRID exceeds beyond compare since it concerns the thrill of the race itself, the adrenaline of having to “carefully” push your way forward, and, not only that, but remain there too, and blocking off the opposition since there’s always bound to be someone right hot on your tail. Although GRID is without doubt an arcade racer it simply takes racing sensation to the very next level. You can’t just speed past opponents any longer without a care in the world - the A.1 racers react to you as well as to the remaining A.1 racers - so you may find in some circumstances overtaking a driver might result in them panicking, taking a corner awkwardly, and, then, either crashing or spinning out. Either way, all of these activities, may well take you out of the race too! GRID also comes with a very handy feature which you may find useful for those aforementioned scenarios, or if you just happen to slam into a barrier whilst cruising at 200 mph. For instance, if your cars gets totalled you can rewind times by about 10-20 seconds prior to the actual crash itself. It’s something very different for a racer of this calibre - not something I think is necessarily needed - but it remains a good feature nonetheless and managed to save my skin many times, which meant that I didn’t have to restart the race! For these reasons the flashback is a very welcome feature, removing some of the frustration involved in getting wrecked, either by your own hand on the A.1’s. This applies especially if you’re in the lead and lose it in the final lap. Be warned, however: the flashback feature is not an instant rewind tool to be used at all times. To give an example: if you skid onto some grass, or even lightly collide with a barrier, your car must be wrecked completely in order to use the feature, and even then you only have a limited amount of times it can be used per race.
As far as the game’s audio is concerned its purpose is served well. Whilst during races there might be a distinct lack of music you’ll find there’s usually a quick beat which is slowly introduced during the final lap, as if to add some extra pressure. To speak generally, however, this is a racer that’s all the more enjoyable with some of your own tunes in the background, even if just to compliment those racing engines and perhaps tragic smashes. However, it must be said, that, in the same department (audio), GRID is severely lacking: there are no horns (Beep! Beep!), that are perhaps not required, but at one and the same time everyone loves to honk online before they overtake, or busily ram someone off the road - and this means only friends, of course!
However, GRID offers up a good and lengthy challenge worth of events to compete in. Different driving experiences can be experienced from drift racing to F1, to the demolition derby, if you take part in events from Europe, the United States and Japan, and you’ll soon discover there’s always something different to do which will spice up the gameplay to some extent. This is without mentioning the online play which for many gamers will result in extending the overall longevity with each of these three different styles of racing experience; from those regions fully accessible online in multiplayer and complete with a voting system as well, which will ensure that the majority of players get to play what they want!
For a racing title GRID exceeds in many respects. It certainly takes over DIRT that is based on the fact that it has an actual proper multiplayer component. But I prefer the style and pick-up “n” play nature of DIRT. If you’re a fan who likes your arcade racing games then GRID is certainly worth looking at, and maybe give the demo a test drive beforehand too? Just don’t expect an easy ride if you compare it to those arcade racers which preceded it. GRID is better than many of today’s highly regarded racers.
OK - it can be frustrating and might take some brief acclimatising.
However, Race Driver: GRID is one rewarding drive well worth taking.
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