GRID Autosport Review (Xbox 360)
When it comes to turning digital laps on the asphalt, no other company is more synonymous with that experience than Codemasters. Developers of such famed racing titles as F1, Colin McCrae/Dirt, and of course the Toca/Grid series.
Codemasters is back at it again, with Grid: Autosports, and is hoping to right the wrongs from its Grid predecessor(s). A racing series that heavily blurs the lines between simulation and arcade, does the same with the new title, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a purchase – or does it?
As soon as you fire up Autosport for the first time, you will notice the oh-so familiar UI that has been associated with Codemasters racing titles for the past decade, which is fitting, because the gameplay doesn’t stray too far from the old tried-and-true style that they have used also.
It’s pretty obvious that the first aspect of any racing title that most are interested in, is the driving model. I am glad to report that Grid: Autosport offers a really solid model that promotes the idea of racing the track, as opposed to just the other drivers. The game rewards the user for navigating the corners correctly, hitting your braking and acceleration marks properly, and selectively picking your points to pass. Here is a hint – not every single aspect of a track was created with the idea of passing an opponent.
On the higher difficulties if one wants to have any level of success against a tough AI crowd, you are going to drive smart, show some patience, and be aggressive and passive, all at once. Grid is just not set up for one to beat and bash their way around a track, and if that is what you are looking for, you will have play the game on the lowest of difficulty levels, or pass on this title altogether.
No matter if you choose to set up a quick race or start your career, one will instantly notice the AI’s ability to race, the same AI that we spoke of earlier. At first they seemed a bit aggressive, but as I learned to how respect my digital counterparts, they seemed to reciprocate. If you want to “race” them hard and use them as jump-off points in the corner, they are going to return the favor. If you choose to race with them clean, and wisely pick your points to pass, the experience becomes a much more enjoyable and realistic one.
If you have ever played a previous Grid, Dirt, or Toca title, than you already have a good understanding of how career mode works. If you haven’t played one of the titles I mentioned, no worries. In career mode you create your driver, and you will be offered a set of contract’s. Each contract will offer a different set of challenges that you are required to meet throughout the season, if you want to level up your driver. One will find they also are paired with an AI teammate, and while you will have a set of individual tasks to complete, you will also have set goals to accomplish as a team. Pretty cool in theory, but in all honesty, my teammate was just horrendous. While I consistently finished in the middle, to top of the standings, he was always in the bottom three of every single race we ran. The games excuse was because he was a rookie with no experience, which is odd, because I had the same amount.
Regardless of your talentless teammate, you should still be able accomplish most goals and move on. As you progress you can continue to stay in your current class of racing, or move onto one of the others. The ultimate goal is to master all of the classes and unlock the Grid Championship series. This series has three categories, and you must get to level nine of the other five series in order to unlock all three of them.
Here is where I have a small problem with how the series unlocking goes. It’s great the developers want you to experience all the different styles that the game offers, but quite simply, some people hate drifting, or open wheel, or any number of the other styles. So forcing them to get master each class in order to race to race all three categories in the Grid Series, seems like a pretty poor design choice.
Codemasters also gives the user the option to change the race lengths in career, so if one is looking for a mode that will require some time and effort, the option is there to do just that. If racing offline is the only way you get enjoyment out of a racing title, then the career mode in Grid: AS should keep you busy for quite some time.
There are not many issues I ran into in my career mode, which is obviously a good thing. Other than the lack of presentation, lack of ability to pit, and the forced unlocking system, one should find plenty in career mode to hold your interest.
Grid: AS offers a pretty stout array of choices online to race. One can just jump into a lobby and race with random opponents, set up a private lobby, and invite their friends. One incredibly important and awesome option included is the ability to add AI to the mix. So instead of waiting for a lobby to fill up, or hoping that 15 of your best friends purchased the game, you can invite just a few of your friends, add AI into the race, and have full, competitive field. In my limited time with online, the racing was clean, the connection was solid, and dare I say – it felt as if I was racing offline.
Another interesting addition on online racing that Codemasters has included, is the ability to create your own racing club, create your own livery, invite your friends, and prove that your club is the best in the world – assuming that is your thing of course.
Codemasters has also included an online option called Racenet Challenge. This mode allows a user to race against AI online and try to beat the times of real opponents who also participated in that same challenge. It’s a nice addition for people who want to have some social involvement with the game, but do not necessarily enjoy racing other human opponents.
If I had one complaint, albeit a minor one, I do wish Codemasters would spruce up the whole presentation factor online, because while there are plenty of options to chose from, they are all presented in a pretty vanilla type way. I understand that presentation online is a not a game killer by an means, but the game just has a sterile feel to it while navigating and racing online.
Grid: Autosport may not be for everyone, but truthfully it does offer quite the variety of different racing genres and competitive AI. Whether you enjoy open wheel, drifting, touring cars, drifting, or a combination of them all, Grid: AS has you covered. Well, It has you covered assuming you have a good PC, Xbox 360, or PS3, because sadly this game is not available for the next-gen systems. It has multiple options for both online and offline users, and both are done very well.
Learning Curve – If you have played a previous Codemasters title, you will feel right at home. If you haven’t, it will take a bit to learn how to properly maneuver around the track, and even more time to master it.
Visuals – If you’re playing the console version, it’s a bit rough, almost grungy looking. Not the worst visuals ever, but one has to wonder what it could have looked like on the PS4 or Xbox One.
Sound – Grid:AS will win no awards for the in-game sound. The music is bland, the career guide voice will put you to sleep, but the cars sound decent enough to make up for the other areas that are lacking.
Online – Minus the bland presentation, the online aspect is handled well, and offers quite a few options to choose from.
Score – 7.5 (Good)