The GRID franchise is back with a brand new track based racing title looking to take the series to a whole new level. GRID Autosport features over 100 separate tracks with a range of vehicles to race around in. From Touring cars to Prototypes, gamers can get behind the wheel of an incredible bunch of cars. Codemasters say that Autosport offers gamers an intense racing feeling with amazing detail and an authentic ride. Let’s see if they are right.
Straight away gamers will notice the less cluttered, more simplified, easy-to-use menu system: which makes the game appear similar to recent Formula 1 titles or Assetto Corsa. GRID 2 did offer a nice looking way to navigate the menus, but the ease and quickness players can get into an actual race is pleasant. All of the options such as tuning and tweaking vehicles are available but the race button is initially selected. For someone that has little knowledge into the small changes possible it is nice to not have to manually bypass these options; whilst them remaining easily accessible for other, more experienced, users.
The game seems confused at its core whilst managing to pull off a fun and enjoyable racing sim. It is neither a fully realistic simulator nor the sort of title where drifting and an extreme nature of driving is common like in Need For Speed titles. The driving is thoroughly entertaining which is key but confusion stems from choices made about damage and player penalties. Two quite important features in any modern racing game.
Parts falling off your car unless damaging the wheels makes little to no impact on the cars handling. However lose a tyre or damaging the gearbox will impact your journey to the finishing line. A burst tyre leaves the rim to drag along the track. A broken gearbox constantly pulls the car in a certain direction making it hard to drive in a straight line and even trickier in the corners.
Not being the best driver I decided to test the games ability to penalise bad, or reckless, driving. This is where the mixed state and confusion of the title erupts. Cutting corners to some extent you can get away with. Missing a corner all together and you will soon find yourself with either a white line penalty or a well positioned barrier blocking your path. This makes sense and is obvious feedback from the style of racing game that GRID Autosport is. Naturally, you would perceive harsher racing crimes to result in harsher penalties.
Take using a car in front of you as a brake at the upcoming corner for instant. Smashing into the back of the vehicle at top speed causing them to swerve, potentially crashing out of the race, just so that you can make it round the bend. An instant disqualification perhaps? At least a forced pit stop, right? In fact, the only penalty is that you have significantly damaged your own car as well as theirs. At times the player is the only one to drive away from such an incident but the game has no issue with this as long as a corner hasn’t been cut in the process.
The majority of the title is simply stunning. With a shift to track racing the team has been able to bring in real world locations to great effect. Places such as Hockenheim are back on the menu for GRID Autosport and they make a roster of detailed and well textured circuits. The cars themselves from the outside fit these detailed environments. While it is nice to see a range of camera viewpoints the one with the most potential drastically lets the title down.
The ‘helmet cam’ view is lacklustre and falls far short of the presentation standard set by the rest of the game. Not only is the interior blurry, with not reflective working mirrors, it isn’t built to immerse the player. Looking behind or sideways would often from a helmet viewpoint look through the rear windscreen or the side windows but this immersion factor just hasn’t yet made it into GRID Autosport.
It is only a small gripe with the presentation, but due to the high benchmark set it stands out like a sore thumb. Even the damage states of the cars, something that often lets games down, are well designed. Starting off as pristine racing machines it is possible with a bit of rough driving to swiftly see the result. From a slight scrape to a large crash the damage modelling feels realistic, providing a dent to go with the size of the crash.
Thankfully becoming a smashed wreck is a reversible disaster via Codemasters’ Flashback feature. It is a neat feature that can remove some of the tension from pushing a car to its limits around a bend. It is a potential negative that players don’t have to worry about smashing into the next crash barrier. Those looking for additional realism will be pleased to know that you can disable the Flashback feature. Note that it may be worth starting with it until you feel confident enough to turn the feature off.
So there are some issues and the game doesn’t seem to have made its mind up on how realistic it wants to be but there is fun to be had. Whether you hop into a quick race, venture through the career mode or daringly race online there is plenty of content to keep racing game fans happy. The presentation bar the inside car view is top notch and this high standard is reverberated throughout the title. GRID Autosport is a solid game and with still time before release is set to be a great game!