As a fan of Burnout, Need for Speed, and Forza Horizon 4, I took this GRID reboot as an opportunity to experience a new franchise.
In GRID, you race on tracks that are copies of real-life circuits so if you're into Motorsports then this will be very enticing. There are 13 circuits in total with each featuring a variety of layouts. The circuit locations cover a good variety such as Barcelona (Spain), Indianapolis (USA), Crescent Valley (UK), and Zhejiang Circuit (China). However, if you're not into the world of Motorsports and you're used to racing through fields and open worlds then you likely won't be as impressed with the variety because the races are on very closed-off tracks and are mostly quite short with not much variety to keep them interesting after you've played on them once or twice.
This brings me to one of my biggest issues with GRID: its graphics. In the odd trailer that I watched pre-launch, I saw what looked like very polished cars and tracks with a ton of detail, rivalling the quality of recent releases like Forza Horizon 4. However, something has gone amiss between the trailers and the actual game; resulting in something that looks akin to a PlayStation 3 game when played on a standard PlayStation 4 with an OLED 65" TV in HDR mode.
I have looked for in-game settings that I may have missed but the only graphical option is for brightness. I haven't had the chance to play it on a PlayStation 4 Pro to see if the issue is only with the standard models but I have seen other gamers online with the same graphical quality that I have while playing on Xbox One. Keep in mind; I've escalated this to the developers and can only hope it's just a handful of us that have this problem and that there is a patch coming out very soon as great graphics are one of the key elements that draws me to modern racers and without that, GRID becomes difficult to play in long stretches.
One thing that I was very happy to see when I booted up GRID was that it has a simple menu to navigate through all of the content. In the past few years, I've grumbled about how confusing menu systems have become such as Forza Horizon 4's headache-inducing navigation but GRID lets you pick from Career Mode or Multiplayer and once you've selected Career Mode, you're given a simple selection of races. It's also easy to observe your progress at mastering GRID. Only a couple of races are unlocked in each theme at the start and you have to win races and amass cash to buy newer vehicles in order to complete a row. There's tons of content planned for GRID so I can only hope that they manage to keep it just as organised and streamlined to get you into the race as quickly as possible.
Each race in Career Mode only allows you to compete with a certain type of vehicle so that you're generally on the same playing field as the AI. There's a nice selection of vehicles to choose from based on real-world and fictional models of touring, GT, tuner, and stock cars. This gives you a decent range from Formula One vehicles that have great handling to larger trucks that take some talent to control.
Some races begin at the starting line but others will plop you right in the middle of an ongoing race (called a rolling start) then it measures your time to finish a lap. I haven't played a racing game before that has you start in the middle of a race like this but I found it to be a nice change of pace. The controls are tight and I only made mistakes when I was just getting messy with my driving or finding it a little tougher to get to grips with controlling the larger vehicles that take extra planning to make the tighter turns.
As you race, you'll get points for overtaking, drifting, and staying on the racing line which shows you an optimum path to follow. These points are converted into cash at the end of each race which can then be used to purchase new vehicles. It's important to not spend your cash willy-nilly because you'll need it in order to unlock races later that require some of the more expensive vehicles. You can also earn extra money by signing another racer up to your team. Pay a signing bonus upfront and you'll be rewarded with a little cash depending on how well they do. This team system is a great way to make some money but I didn't spend much time switching it up because it didn't feel like it affected the actual racing at all.
If you've been keeping up on the previews around GRID, you may have heard of the Nemesis system. Every AI racer has its own personality in GRID and with that personality comes the ability to take vengeance on those who have wronged them. In other words, if you hit another player one too many times (which is extremely easy to do given how tight the track is), that player becomes your nemesis and they'll look for opportunities to hit you and push you off the track. This makes the races a little more exciting but if you stay away from where they are in the pack then you may simply forget that they even have it out for you. If you do cross them, you have the flashback system at your disposal that allows you to rewind time then move out of their way and avoid their attack.
The number of flashbacks allowed is limited based on your difficulty and custom settings, making the dynamic of avoiding nemeses more interesting. The Nemesis system seems like it's intended to be optional where you can target who you want to have a beef with but I haven't yet managed to finish one race without making a nemesis which is a little frustrating. The tracks are so tight and in some cases, the vehicles are so big that you inevitably end up hitting a pack of other cars head-on when you try to make a turn and overtake your rivals. It would be cool to see this Nemesis system introduce rewards for making nemeses rather than just adding extra difficulty.
On top of the large mass of races to spend your time on, there's also an interesting set of collectibles. Objectives are tracked based on your career progression or on general milestones such as drafting or drifting a certain distance and levelling up. Additionally, you unlock banners and panel images to update the cosmetics of your profile. You can also unlock some nifty accolades that you can show off by layering them on top of your profile in a few different formations. Finally, if you don't like the default look of your chosen vehicle, you have the option to update the livery settings with nifty patterns and colours.
Online multiplayer takes the form of quick and private matches. Unfortunately, there's no local multiplayer in GRID. In Quick Match, if you're not automatically matched with an existing game, GRID automatically picks a track, vehicle type, race type, and number of rounds then starts one for you. Alternately, you can start a private match where you get to set all of the above options and more detailed settings such as whether or not to include AI drivers along with your real-life buddies and the number of allowed flashbacks.
Motorsport fans will have fun with this reboot, especially if they are looking to race some popular vehicles on well-known real-life circuits. However, the poor quality graphics, lack of local multiplayer, and limited appeal of the Nemesis system makes it harder to recommend.
- + Good variety of real-life circuits and vehicles that are enjoyable to race with
- + Solid and responsive controls
- + Simple menu to browse the content
- - Nemesis system is promising but it doesn't offer enough to keep rivalries interesting
- - Graphics don't come close to other racers
- - No local multiplayer