‘GRID Autosport’ Review
Platforms PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC Developer Codemasters Racing Studio Publisher Codemasters Genre Racing Platform Played PlayStation 3
GRID Autosport brings back the emphasis on true racing, rather than focusing on street races like its predecessor. Once again, the GRID series rides the thin line between arcade style racing and driving simulator, though it allows players to understand and improve on their driving technique within a matter of laps, rather than a multitude of seasons. GRID Autosport improves on many of the characteristics of last year’s GRID 2, providing current generation console gamers with one of the last true racing titles for their platform. GRID Autosport wants to showcase the true racing experience, and it does so with a true appreciation of the sport.
GRID Autosport revolves around five different disciplines of racing, which range from street, tuner, endurance, touring car, and open wheel. These different genres of racing all feel unique, each offering enough depth and care to have their own fully realised release. While participating in street races carved through some iconic locales, it is easy to feel like each fast-paced turn could be your last, as the walls tightly hug the racing line. Open wheel racing provides a cautious experience with one collision or a miss-timed acceleration costing you the race, though the subtle caress as you push your open-wheel vehicle around a tight corner feels excellent. While touring car drivers will experience the hustle and bustle of touring car racing, opponents won’t hesitate to barge their way into your position, which adds a hectic spice to the renowned format. This is just a small sample of how each discipline has been given its own special care; the variety of racing adds an interesting palette of choice.
Each one of these five disciplines on offer has their own subtle differences to master, meaning you will have to change your strategy when participating in each discipline; entering an endurance race with a touring car mindset will see your chance of victory go up in flames. Though each discipline has been given an impressive amount of care, there are some flaws. Endurance racing feels watered-down, due to the omission of pit stops, even though players must manage their tyre wear in this format. It is an odd omission to say the least, which will see players wanting an extended race management experience left in the cold. The complete absence of pit stops means if your car becomes too damaged, or you receive a puncture, your race is truly over, unless you have some Flashbacks remaining – the rewind system from the previously GRID and Formula 1 titles remains pivotal when experiencing a race-ending incident. Races are automatically structured to be small events with a handful of laps, but those wanting to experience extended races must keep the pit stop absence in mind.
GRID Autosport offers a refined handling system that greatly improves on GRID 2; though each discipline of racing handles differently, each car within that discipline also has a distinct feel. Driving a Mini Cooper will feel stiff and unable to obtain fast maneuverability, while driving a Hypercar will offer an incredibly fast ride that will easy spin-off the track if handled incorrectly. These minor differences within each vehicle must be considered, in order to get the best out of your ride. When a certain vehicle has been mastered, GRID Autosport truly shines, offering an amazing racing experience. From carving through each corner and hitting every apex in order shave one-tenth of a second off your time to gaining that first place victory around the final corner of an intense race, GRID Autosport does a superb job at allowing players to experience the rush of real life racing with a grand sense of control.
Vehicle A.I. has also been improved, with your opponents reacting to your pressure as you make your way through the pack. The A.I. will start to make mistakes if you pressure their position too hard; these can range from locking up their brakes, veering off-road, or even causing a collision with the car they are chasing. This system adds to the realism of a race, and it is interesting to see other racers cause accidents throughout the competition, without your involvement. During Career Mode, it became clear that when other cars did DNF due to collision (alongside myself), they were still awarded points for their effort, while mine were lost. I was perplexed as to why this was the case, but it also seems to happen in qualifying. If you set an outstanding time and somehow don’t complete all three qualifying laps, your time will still exist, yet won’t get included on the time sheet. These instances made no sense, and I was quite shocked that the player is given a much harder experience than their opponent racers.
GRID Autosport’s Career Mode allows players to race as any of the five racing disciplines, while constantly earning experience points that unlock further events by completing sponsor objectives, team goals, and, of course, winning races. Events throughout Career offer a full racing weekend experience, allowing players to customise their car, practice the track, qualify, and ultimately take part in the race. Though some may struggle at different disciplines, GRID Autosport allows the choice as to which discipline you choose, meaning you could master in open wheel racing before ever trying out endurance races.
Career Mode focuses on racing rather than the narrative premise of GRID 2, as there is almost zero reasoning behind any the events taking place. These are racing events aimed to showcase the best of the best – nothing more. I was disappointed that the conclusion to each season, series, or race didn’t emphasise your victories. GRID Autosport tries so hard to emphasise the racing experience, though it lacks placing any meaning to any tight victory you earn. There is no trophy cabinet, no celebratory instances, or even statistics that keep track of your individual season progress. Though GRID Autosport certainly nails the racing experience on the track, the post-race process and emphasis on celebrating your accomplishments is sorely forgotten.
GRID Autosport improves on the visual display from GRID 2, but is certainly held back by being confined to the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era of consoles. Each vehicle in GRID Autosport looks serviceable, real-life tracks resemble their real-world counterparts perfectly, and night racing looks as visually stunning as last year, with fireworks erupting into the night sky as you strive for first place; sadly no transitions between day and night racing occur. Aside from the positives, GRID Autosport can also look quite bland at times, with the most notable problems being the cardboard cut-out crowd and the muddy in-car view that provides little interior detail. While racing, it is easy to miss these expressionless crowd members, but it becomes noticeable during street events that contain the vibrant audio of an excited crowd, until you discover the entire crowd is standing completely still; it is eerie to say the least.
GRID Autosport continues to focus on racing in comparison to GRID 2, with the removal of music throughout races. Instead, players will hear every growl, groan and strain from their engine. Which certainly adds to the rush of being behind the wheel. Taking a corner too fast in a street race will deliver the sound of your engine straining to keep up with your demands, while open wheel racers will be able to judge their driving performance by simply listening to the audio coming from their own engine.
Once again, GRID Autosport uses Racenet – Codemasters’ online social network that allows new challenges to be provided to their racing community, while also allowing players to keep track of their progress, and compare against their friends. Multiplayer in GRID Autosport allows players to enjoy races in all five disciplines offered in the Career Mode, allowing players to avoid pick and choose which particular experience they want to partake. Players will also gain experience and money after each race, allowing upgrades to be purchased for their vehicles. All cars purchased are able to be customised and viewed, while Racenet also offers a clan system, one that allows players to join with up to 100 other racers to form their own club/clan to dominate online proceedings.
My experience online was great, connection between players around the world worked smoothly, and there is certainly a robust community online. Aside from the online capabilities, players can enjoy local competition using split-screen play, and can customise even the very minute of detail when creating events. The ability to enjoy couch racing is a simple addition, but one that will please those who want that local competitive experience.
GRID Autosport vastly improves on the handling GRID 2 offered, extending the improvements to five racing disciplines that all offer a vast array of subtle changes that alter your racing strategy. Career Mode offers an extensive library of events to complete, though the lack of making your victory seem special was a sad omission from a racing title focused on providing a true racing experience.
Though the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 may be in the rear vision mirror for some, those who are still looking for excellent racing gameplay on these systems will definitely find an admirable experience in GRID Autosport.
+ Excellent handling across all disciplines.
+ Emphasis on a variety of racing formats.
+ Challenging AI competitors.
– No emphasis on victory.
– No pit stops.