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Review: Race Driver GRID - Xbox 360

by Nick Haywood on 18 June 2008, 14:44

Tags: Race Driver: Grid, Codemasters, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Racing

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NeeeeeeYOooooooW! (crash!)

Now I’ll openly admit to being a TOCA fan… and yes, I liked Race Driver even if that Scots bloke was stupidly annoying and the ‘story mode’ thing was superfluous and unnecessary. But overall the Codemasters do a good racing game so I had high hopes for Race Driver GRID. After all, Colin McRae DiRT was bloody good, so the Codies can’t have gone too far wrong in the few short months since DiRT.

And they haven’t. GRID delivers just about all the racing fun you could want, which, as the capitalised name suggests, is tarmac based racing compared with DiRT’s, erm, dirt based racing. Of course, I’ll always maintain that rally and off-road driving is by far the tougher challenge, but that’s because my heart will always be in the thrill of going sideways at 70mph… that said, I simply love the BTCC and pretty much any type of covered wheel racing… so with DiRT for muddy stuff and GRID for asphalt shredding, the pair of them pretty much cover all my racing needs.

GRID handles all the tarmac based racing ‘disciplines’ you could ask for, from muscle-car destruction derbies through to rice-burning drift competitions and pretty much everything in-between, (with the exception of some of the more obscure stuff like classic 1950’s hill climbing in Hillman Imps). So everyone should be pretty happy, (except hill climbing Hillman Imp owners… but then they can go and do the real thing and stop complaining).

Unusually for a racing game, the main disciplines are divided pretty much by the different racing licenses. So expect lots of muscle cars and left hand circles in the US, touring cars and open wheelers in Europe and souped-up, nitrous burning pocket rockets in Japan. Yeah, I know that’s stereotyping in the extreme but that is pretty much how it is in GRID. But before you can even get to that stage, you have to scrape together enough cash to start your own team.

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So that means you’ll be driving for other teams and earning cash in racing for them. This is kinda like the tutorial, suck-it-and-see section of GRID where you can try out various types of racing on someone else’s cheque book… which is handy as you’ll hardly ever come out of a race without rubbing the crash barrier or another car at least once. But it does let you find out what type of racing suits you best… which is handy as even on the basic difficulty level, taking the chequered flag can be something of a novelty.

Yep, real success in GRID is hard. I’m not talking about GT Legends or rFactor levels of realism here, though there is a heavy dose of decent physics. No, it’s the AI, which sure enough makes daft-arsed mistakes like taking a bend way too fast, just as you will… but the AI is always just that bit better than you, the car handling just the little bit tricky and the track design, including nasty hidden dips that throw the car out of balance, is just that little bit devious. All of which combines to make GRID a challenge just to finish a race with the front spoiler intact or, as is often the case, with the car roughly the same length as when you started.

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