Saturday, 19 July 2014

GRID Autosport

I'll be honest; I'm not a huge fan of racing games. From Gran Turismo to Ridge Racer, they just aren't my cup of tea. That said, I do enjoy them from time to time, but I'd always rather play anything else, basically. But when my copy of GRID Autosport arrived in my letterbox, I was actually pretty excited. You see, one developer out there has, over the years, created racing titles that even I (a crusty old negative gamer) can enjoy. That developer is Codemasters. My introduction to Codemasters came in the September of 1999 when my mam and dad bought me a copy of No Fear Downhill Biking for the PlayStation on my birthday. Though I was pretty damn sceptical at first (I remember thinking, “Biking... that's a sport?”), the game had an exceptional sense of speed and tension. It was fantastic!

From there my mind was open to their other titles, which eventually led me to picking up Colin McRae Rally and, a few years later, TOCA Touring Car Championship. Both titles explored two very different types of racing, with each of them spawning franchises of their own. However, while the Colin McRae series has recently ditched the name that made it famous, and the TOCA name also being kicked to the curb, something new has arisen in their place; the Grid series. Technically an additoin to the TOCA series itself, Grid kicked off with 2008's Race Driver: Grid. Now the third entry in the Grid series has been released, but the question is; does it deserve to be ranked among some of Codemasters masterworks?

Developed by Codemasters and out now on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 comes GRID Autosport, the third and best entry in the Grid series to date. Grid 2 seemed to step back on the promises of Race Driver: Grid, and offered an experience that didn't demand as much discipline and skill as it should have. Thankfully GRID Autosport undoes the failures of Grid 2, as this is a game that requires focus, practice and time to master. First off, the handling in GRID Autosport is beautifully nuanced, and that goes for almost every one of the 78 cars the game has available. Broken up into five different types, which are Endurance, Touring Cars, Open Wheel, Tuner and Street, Codemasters have replicated cars to Gran Turismo levels of perfection. From the rough and tumble physics of car-on-car action to merely cruising around a hard turn, GRID Autosport is for the racing enthusiast, as it offers gameplay that is more realistic than arcade-like. While newcomers will easily find their feet here, the Grid fan will slip into it and forget Grid 2 even existed. However, GRID Autosport does let down slightly as there's only 22 tracks on offer. That said, though you'll find yourself racing through them time and time again during Career Mode, they'll very rarely feel boring and overused. Sure, it would have been great to get some new tracks, especially since some are rehashed from Grid 2, but they're pretty impressive nonetheless. Also once again, much like the cars on offer, the tracks in GRID Autosport just scream realism.

Though not released on the PS4 or Xbox One, GRID Autosport pushes the PS3 and Xbox 360 to the max, and the outcome is quite stunning indeed. From the absolutely lovely car models Codemasters have recreated here, to the breath-taking and highly diverse courses you'll find yourself speeding around, GRID Autosport is a show-stopper in the graphics department. Whether you're merely enjoying a track purely for its visual fidelity, or utilising the returning first-person view while bombing it past other drivers, GRID Autosport is gorgeous, utterly gorgeous.

Overall GRID Autosport is a welcome return to form for Codemasters. Learning from their mistakes on Grid 2, they've given us a sequel that betters it in every way. Packed alongside an excellent 12-player online mode to boot, GRID Autosport offers one of the best racing experiences to date. Coming from a gamer that often detests racing games... it's awesome.

GRID Autosport blazes past the competition and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

GRID Autosport at CeX

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