Grid: Autosport Xbox 360 Review
When offered the chance to review Grid: Autosport, I jumped for it.
Well… after googling ‘grid’, ‘autosport’ and ‘race cars’.
Oh, and after asking my wingman Chris ‘Tall and Merciless’ Evans if he has an opinion on the series, because unlike me, he knows what those words mean.
He did. You can find out what it is by continuing to read.
Grid 2 was easily one of the most requested games in Codemasters’ long history, but after trying to cater to more people by leaning further towards the arcade end of the racing spectrum and ditching the much-loved cockpit camera from the first game in the series, it ended up alienating many of the fans that asked for it in the first place. Now, a little over a year later, Grid: Autosport feels as much an apology as it does a sequel, recapturing all of why the original game is held in such high regard.
From the tail-happy oversteer of Grid 2, Autosport returns to a not-quite sim, not-quite arcade balance which allows you to throw cars around but will still bite back if you push them too far. If anything this is the most unforgiving of the series – even with all assists turned on you won’t be invulnerable to spinning off the track if you floor the throttle out of a corner – but it’s all the more rewarding for it. Codemasters have done a great job of feeding the way a car is behaving back to the player, meaning you can feel every movement and react to it even when playing with a controller.
AI drivers for the most part drive intelligently and put up a real fight, defending believably into corners, taking different lines to each other and making occasional mistakes. The track selection is wide and varied, save for a few strange omissions (what, no Silverstone?) although it does fall into the trap of using reverse tracks to extend the life which doesn’t always work. Circuits are designed to be driven in one direction for a reason.
The lengthy career mode is split into five disciplines – Street, Touring, Open Wheel, Turner and Endurance, which can be played in any order and all feel different to one another. Street racing, on tight circuits with minimal room for error, most closely matches the first Grid game, while Touring takes place on race circuits and has all the heavy contact and aggression you see in real world Touring Car championships. Open Wheel cars are light, fast and nimble but can take far less punishment. The remaining disciplines are somewhat weaker, with Tuner limited to time trials and drifting, and Endurance having a strange balance of racing and tire wear management, which doesn’t really add to the experience as there is no option to pit for new rubber.
My biggest complaint however is that the structure of building your own race team from the ground up has been abandoned in favour of you being a driver for hire, dropped into championships with no real continuity. Racing games don’t need a story, but the constant thread of racing for your own team with a livery you designed and a team-mate you hired added something to Grid 1 and 2 which is noticeably missing here.
Elements of this do exist online however, through Codemasters’ Racenet which allows you and your friends to race for your own team against the world. Everything from single player is available online and is almost a separate career mode of its own.
Grid: Autosport is a wonderful swansong for the outgoing console generation, giving racing fans a satisfying, diverse experience without falling into the trap of feeling cold and sterile as simulation often do, getting everything out of the hardware in the process. It may not be as forgiving as a Need for Speed or as minutely accurate as Forza, but few racers are this satisfying and this fun.
Chris Evans (@)
I feel educated! Support for Grid is ongoing. The Best of British car pack was released on the 22nd August for all platforms, featuring three new vehicles engineered and produced in the UK:
1995 McLaren F1 GTR
“We all know the McLaren F1 is an awesome road car – this is the GTR designed for Endurance Racing. It’s got a huge wing that will give you massive downforce in the corners, it’s all about being brave and attacking those corners at speeds you never thought possible.”
2011 Aston Martin Zagato V12
“The Zagato model has bodywork styled by Italian designers, but has a typical Aston Martin V12 engine, very powerful, very torquey. If you can manage the weight and the grip and fire it out the corners, you’ll benefit from all that power from the V12.”
2007 McLaren Mercedes SLR 722
“It’s got a huge supercharged V8 engine that sounds like an old World War Two Spitfire. There’s clearly a lot of power being put out from the V8, and you can really feel that in the car in our game.”
They sound good. Right? They have… er… lots of V’s. I need to consult Chris again…