“Doctor! There’s a steering wheel in my pants and it’s driving me nuts!”

Title: GRID
Platform: Xbox One X (Reviewed), PC, PlayStation 4, Google Stadia.
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Price: Console £50 / $65, PC £45 / $60 for Standard Editions
Release date: October 11, 2019 (October 8, 2019, for Ultimate Edition early access)
TL;DR: Many cars, many laps, try to become GRID champ!
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

British racing game aficionado’s Codemasters have decided to reboot one of the popular TOCA franchise favourites GRID; with it being around 5 years since the last outing – ‘GRID Autosport’. In that time though, the Birmingham based (Southam) developers haven’t been slacking, they have been churning out successful iterations of the Formula 1 racing games and also some DiRT rally 2.0 to rave reviews and scores.

Releasing October 8, 2019, if you have the Ultimate edition (3-days early access) and October 11, 2019, for standard editions; GRID will attempt to reboot the once-popular gaming series.

I have the original GRID on the PC and used to enjoy it with my ageing Logitech steering wheel. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with my Xbox but I’m looking forward to seeing if GRID does recapture or improve upon that original gaming experience.

Booting up GRID you’re greeted with a flashy interactive opening scene where you switch between cinematic televised racing action as you jump behind the wheel of a selection of cars in different types of races. It’s very smooth and glossy and hints at the production value of this GRID title, making for a great introduction to the action to come.

Once the opening scene has finished the rest of GRID’s options open up and you can choose to go ahead and play either career mode or go online for some custom or skirmish modes. The career mode offers familiar race modes for the different classes of vehicle, these include Touring, GT, Tuned, and invitational. Completing each set of races helps to unlock further challenges in the same tier and also unlock access to some of the races in other specialist types.

As you complete races you gain experience which helps to increase your driving level – ranking up helps to unlock new game features like paint-jobs for you stable of cars, and also allows you to join different teams. Joining with new teammates alters the race fee percentage that you pay and also costs a signing fee, but it does enable you to get a specialist teammate (Tuner, GT, Stock, Touring etc.) that can help you in races by attacking or defending you from your fellow racers.

It’s also worth practising your driving skills, so that you become a better racer, as you gain more points for sticking to racing lines, slip-streaming other racers, and completing ‘clean’ sections of the track. It’s also incredibly satisfying as you start to master your skills and the twists and turns of the tracks. I’ve found the handling and feel of the cars and overall driving experience to be superb and just the right mix between simulation and arcade experience.

As I mentioned earlier the glossy finish on GRID is really high – car renders and tracks are all meticulously recreated ingame and to a very high standard. The asphalt looks real and heat-vapour from the exhausts or raindrops on the windscreen are the nice little touches that help to draw you into the experience. The differing sound of the engine from the inside and outside of the car is so pleasing to the ears and makes use of a decent sound solution. Of course, the best part is the vehicle damage and how it impacts on your car – the more damage you take the worse your car drives, giving you a little motivation not to just ram the opposition of the road (although a gentle nudge is always acceptable).

The racing itself is where I have a little bit of a grumble though. Don’t get me wrong – the AI of the other racers is actually really good, and if you hit them too hard and piss them off, they will get in your way or try and take you out. It makes for some great races and some frustrating last-minute hits that absolutely wreck your chances, (thank you rewind) but, if you make sure you do the qualification lap at the start of each race and get pole position, there is hardly any challenge to the race – as long as you stay on the track.

I found it more fun to start from the back of the grid and try and work my way through the pack to the front. A lot of the time too many cars would get in the way on the tight tracks and it was hard work to get to the front, but my god was it satisfying, and that’s when I knew that I was enjoying my time with GRID. That and the fact a day had passed, my garage was filling up with cars, and I was reaching level 12 already.

The OCD tendencies were begging me to get gold trophies in each race, and so I was going back to races later to make sure I was first past the post. It also helped to build up my cash deposits to buy more cars for the garage. I was desperate to try out the online mode, but as I was reviewing the game before release, there were no available players most of the time and I only managed to get one round of races in from many attempts.

Overall, I thought GRID was a success and a true return to form. It has a good selection of tracks varying in location and difficulty, and around 70 available vehicles at launch. It’s not quite as big as Forza, but I do prefer the driving experience. The game also ran very smoothly with the only niggle being the slow loading of car pictures when you are cycling through the different cars in your garage, but that doesn’t affect the gameplay one bit.

The Good:

  • Car Handling.
  • Graphics rendering of cars and tracks.
  • Engine Sound effects (inside and outside of the car).

The Bad:

  • A lot less available cars than the likes of Forza.
  • Some delay loading car pictures when scrolling through vehicles.

Family Focus

ESRB: Rated E for Everyone. PEGI: No Rating as of yet for this preview.

No violence, just vroom-vroom fun with a little car mangling. Perfectly suitable for underage drivers.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.