Hands up those that like cars, I mean really loves cars, the people that can quote the time it takes to reach 0-60. Well this game really isn`t for you. While it still caters for the petrol head, this game is more of a compromise. Now hands up those that prefer the Ferrari 9-11, in red, because it goes faster. This game is for you, especially if you didn`t spot the intentional mistake. This game is mainly for the player that likes cars, but really doesn`t know much about them, the type of player that likes to drive it hard and fast, but doesn`t want to know how to tune it up, or the really hard stuff that goes on behind the scenes.
Arcade Simulation hybrid game, something I refer to as Ac-tion (As long as you misspell Arcade). With a slight hesitation, I find myself raising my hand up; I am the type of gamer that exactly fits this bill. I like to drive cars, but hate all the tuning and simulation stuff that go into driving sims. I don`t know anything about the pit, or how best to tailor a car to suit my driving needs. I just know that acceleration goes forward, left and right steer, and braking stops the car.
But damn, this game is good! I really can`t point to an area where it isn`t! Of course there are small minor problems, but within the game context, and the type of gamer it was designed for, this game has to be one of the best! First you start with choosing your name and all the other info. You also get to choose your audio name, while not a huge part of the game, is a nice little touch. This can also be a little humorous, as for my nickname, I choose “Spanky”.
“Hello Spanky, your car is ready and waiting!”
You get a car and garage, working your way up the ranks, negotiating through the numerous races on offer. There are three leagues; American, European, and Japanese. American League is all about muscle cars and short tracks. The European League is about Endurance Races and Formula Cars. The Japanese tend to be all about Drifting and Touge. Plus there are numerous other things you can do from your garage, choose sponsors, get team mates, paint your car, and so on. While this might not be as detailed as other racing games, it is similar to them. However some of the above options are only available as you earn them.
Muscle Races are the big American power houses, racing on short tracks, in a clean or not so clean way. This is normally what we think of when racing, and there are several disciplines of this kind. Discipline would be for example the old classic muscle cars or the new ones, known as Pro or Tuned. The American League also features the Demolition Derby, where there is racing, but no such word as “dirty” racing.
The European League has Endurance races, these are the long distance tracks, such as the LeMans races. While in life, these races go on for 24 hours, the game converts this as 24 minutes. However in the practice mode, you can set the LeMans race to 24 Hours. But how far are you willing to go? Entirely up to you, but the drivers in these races don`t take bathroom breaks, they pee in their seat, and get very little sleep. Personally I haven`t tried this, as I am fond of peeing and sleeping. The European league also has muscle car racing, but its main events are based around the open wheel racing, i.e. Formula 1,3 and 1000 cars. This is flying by the seat of your pants kind of stuff. Where you really understand the meaning of “Putting your foot down” or “Dropping the hammer”!
Finally the Japanese League, ultimately the one you`ll try to avoid at first. The Touge race is simple enough to get the hang of. As it`s just a one route race without any contact, so you`ll have to be very clean. But drifting is another matter, fantastic fun, but unbelievably hard to get the hang of. Funnily, on a side note, is much harder than real life drifting. While perfecting is difficult, in real life, drifting is mainly done by feeling the road. In this game, you aren`t able to feel the road, and you spend most your time spinning out. But stick with it because you will get the hang of it, slowly but surely, and have tons of fun/frustration in the process. I`ve even been to the net, and probably where you might venture yourself, to learn how to drift. But in all the visits, the net didn`t offer much, so see the picture for what I`ve learned, and I hope it helps you! Good Luck!
If you are going to get this game, I suggest playing with a game pad of some kind. This is where drifting comes in again, as trying to with the keyboard is all most impossible. Also if you do get a game pad, make sure it`s nice and comfortable, with no rough edges on the direction control. Trust me; your thumbs will thank me later. Personally I use the Direction pad for racing, and the Analog Sticks for drifting, something I learned the hard way, which 5 solid hours of drifting will teach you.
The difficulty settings are quite unique and clever too. While you have several options, ranging from the number of replays you get, driver assistants, and the overall ease of the car handling. The harder you set it, and few assistants you have turned on, the more points you get for winning a race. The more points you get the faster you`ll climb up the leader board. One word of warning though, the jump from the lowest difficulty, Basic, to the next highest, Normal, is a huge jump. I suggest you start at basic, if you`re new to racing games. But be warned, once you find this too easy, normal is a steep learning curve.
One new thing is the flashback, where you can rewind a small stretch of time and replay the race. For example if you smash your car, you can rewind back to the moment where you lost control, and start from there. This is a bright and astonishing new feature, as it means that you no longer have to restart the whole race from scratch, and now you have the means to keep the race going. This is good as it keeps the entertaining parts closer together. But more importantly, that perfect race isn`t spoiled by the final lap mishap. But it`s not just for total crashes either, if you do make a mistake, you are still able to replay the last 10 seconds of your race, and flashback to any point in that time frame. While you should really keep it only for emergencies, it does mean that you can correct your silly mistakes. But be warned, you only have 5 flashbacks per race, depending on your difficultly setting.
I was never really a fan of driving games, but this one has surprised me more than most. While it is possible to argue the genre of this game, Driving Simulation or Arcade, one thing has to be said. That this game will keep you glue to your computer for a long time. And that`s the point, that so few games have the ability to keep you faithful, and that when one comes along, this should be kept in your collection! So you can imagine my absolute joy, when I realized that this driving game was going to make this review a little later than others.
God I still get those frustrating moments but, thanks mainly to flashbacks, I forgive all of them. Personally, when you`re in the pack I get nervous cornering, as it can end up so wrong. All those cars bunching up, and the slightest tap can send you spinning to last place. The first corner can just be as difficult, and tricky to steal a good position. Being out in front is almost as bad, messing up can cost you a second, which is more than enough to drop 5 places. But those moments when it all goes right, the screeching around corners, hammering it down straights, and weaving through the course. That`s when you know that this game is going to be with you for a very long time.
Funnily enough smashing doesn`t bother me that much either, in all its bone crushing glory. This game allows you to enjoy that moment without saying “Look at you, you big Loser!”. This is where GRID stands up against all the rest of the racing games, especially for a player not of this genre. Grid says in a soothing voice "Make your mistakes dear driver; I won`t punish you like other games!" This makes it a joy, and you are willing to learn. As testament to it, it has cleaned up my driving skills tenfold; yes I`d admit that I drive a little too fast and a smidgen dirty. But after playing this game, I can see that being clean has more benefits, rather than smashing your way through the pack. But of course sometimes it`s great fun to do that too. This game will befriend all, and may even encourage some players to move onto a more true blood simulation driving game.
The graphics has all the bells and whistles on the visual side, but there are also some minor problems with the hardware side. Most notably that you may have trouble with 2 or more graphic cards. That being said, you should know that the Game Engine, Ego, is one of the best I`ve seen. Very surprising, especially when you find it is based on the Neon Engine, used on Colin McRae`s Dirt. A great shame as I remembered how jerky that was to play. With the really high efficiency of the Ego it will give you the best graphics for the smoothest ride. With my Geforce 7800 GTX, I got outstanding graphics with no low screen rates and no visible jerking at any time. With my settings at 1280x1024 and 2xMSAA, the fps kept around the 30 mark during the game. This truly is marvelous on any game, let alone a driving game, where the screen rarely stays the same. Plus when you also know that during this review I confidently ran MS Word 2007 in the background, still no lag or jerking of any type or description. Though Fraps, which is a screen capture program, for the pictures of this review, produced some screen jerking, enough to throw off your driving. But then again it was set to capture a 1280x1024 screen every second, so I can`t really blame it for doing so.
Beside the slight problem with graphics hardware, is the bug issue. There are quite a few of them, but I must stress all minor issues. Things like in the Drifting Scoreboard, after a race, lap times are displayed rather than the drifting score. Also sometimes when you repaint your car, the tyres are painted too. However there is one that is fairly annoying, if you plug in your USB controller after starting the game, during the intro cut scene, it sometimes resets all your controls. So you have to go back and manually re-enter everything. But like your favorite child, who has scribbled all over the wall in their favorite color, you can`t help but forgive them. Still, Grid will soon be patched, all these issues, if you can call them that, will soon be taken care of.
How do I end this review? Perhaps to speak the native tongue of the Petrol Head! “Vroom, Vroom, Vrrooom, Screech, rrrrmmmm, Erhhmm, Crash, Smash, Screeeechhh, Vroom”
Roughly translated as: I once believed that cars were an auto motive transport that moved people from point A to point B. Within the set speed limit, in comfort, and perhaps to admire the scenery along the way, but how wrong I was! This game demonstrated the error in my thinking, and brought me around to its high octane way of thinking. A car is so much more, an evolution of man that allows him to live beyond his limitations. Testing his reactions, physical body, and pushing them, against others, for the glory of excitement and fumes of success. Scenery, well a blur is just as pretty, but who needs it when you scream down a track at 261 mph in an Audi TDI?
This game is the best fun I`ve had in a long while, and reminds me what driving games should be about. Sheer fun! Recently converted James
P.S. Yes, Petrol Head talk is always faster and covers more in less time!
System Requirements take from Readme File Minimum Specifications Windows XP/Vista. (if running Windows Vista SP1 is recommended) DirectX 9.0c Pentium 4 @ 3.0GHz or Athlon 64 CPU 1GB RAM. Graphics Card: GeForce 6800 / Radeon X1300 or above DirectX Compatible Sound Card Dual Layer Compatible DVD-ROM Drive 12.5 GB Hard Drive Space
Recommended Specifications Windows XP/Vista. (if running Windows Vista SP1 is recommended) DirectX 9.0c Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66Ghz or Athlon X2 3800+ 2GB RAM. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon HD 3800 series Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Sound Card. Dual Layer Compatible DVD-ROM Drive 12.5 GB Hard Drive Space TCP/IP mode (2-12 players) Requirements
Broadband internet connection required (512kbps+ recommended) TCP/IP Network
Supported Graphics Cards ATI Radeon x1300, x1550, x1600, x1800, x1900, x1950, HD2600, HD2900, HD3870 NVIDIA Geforce 6800, 7100, 7300, 7600, 7800, 7900, 7950, 8600, 8800, 9600, 9800 Not compatible with all integrated sound/graphics solutions (inc.Laptops)