GRID review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Codemasters
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: 1-16
Online: Yes

GRID might be one of the most straightforward racing games I?ve played in recent years, which isn?t necessarily a bad thing. Still, coming in at the standard full price of $60, you can?t help but feel like GRID is missing some of the bells and whistles you might expect out of a modern racing game. The core racing experience feels great, which is maybe a given when it comes to a Codemasters developer racer, but GRID still lacks a certain something to help elevate it to the top of the pack when it comes to this generation?s console and PC competition. 

GRID is divided into two modes, a single-player campaign, and a 16-player competitive online mode. The campaign is divided up into a series of event types, featuring vehicle classes such as Touring, Stock, Racer, GT, a Fernando Alonso focused F1 division, and International. Each of these classifications contains a number of races, vehicles available for purchase, and culminates in a special showdown event at the end. The multiplayer mode is a little more basic, featuring Quick Play events and the ability to set-up custom, friends-only races for a little friendly competition. 

While there are a number of vehicles available in-game from most of the expected car manufacturers, there?s not a lot you can do with them outside of some basic livery options and tuning. There?s no upgrade system in place, no part swapping, and you?ll find GRID lacks in the customization department compared to other like-minded titles available. In fact, overall progression in GRID feels a little basic, you?ll earn experience for completing races, and more points if you manage to perform some drifts, safe takeovers, etc, but experience really only seems to impact which teammates you can eventually purchase and basic unlockables like player cards and icons.

Yes, GRID is a team focused racer, but even that component doesn?t feel particularly fleshed out. There?s a blink-and-you?ll-miss-it explanation on team mechanics during the intro race of the game, but past that point, you?ll need to pay attention in order to understand why your teammate has stats like Loyalty, Attack and Defense. You can issue commands to your teammate while racing via the d-pad, but even with a higher loyalty stat they don?t feel all that responsive, and there?s an unspoken timer in place between commands that you?re stuck guessing at. Also, when you do get to a high enough experience level to start purchasing new teammates, you?re not building up a roster or team of switchable partners. Instead, whoever you?ve just purchased simply replaces the last, and with teammates only having one specialized car class, it?s hard to stay committed to one partner for very long. 

The multiplayer mode, as I mentioned before, is also a little flat. The quick play option will just dump you into an available race event, pairing you up with other random racers with no option to select between rooms or narrow your selection by car type or event. I also had a hard time coming across any race with a full roster of actual players, most races I participated in were largely populated by bots. You can opt to create a race, but that?s strictly an invite, friends only set-up. There really needs to be a little more diversity in the online options, which again, feels a little behind the curve compared to other racing games. 

Thankfully, GRID is at least fun to play while actually racing. The controls feel great, not too sim-like, but not a full-on arcade racer either. You can fine-tune various options to accommodate whatever feel you prefer, and you can also fool around with different difficulty settings in order to make the game as challenging or as easy as you?d like. I found the A.I. to be a little easy on medium, but a suitable challenge one bump up, without endless rubberbanding effects tacked on for artificial challenge. The Nemesis system, wherein if you bump an opponent a little too often, generally seems to work, making that other racer a bit more aggressive over time, which is a nice touch. GRID is also really great looking in motion, with some of the best rain effects I?ve seen in a racer from this generation so far. 

Still, great visuals and a solid racing feel might not be enough to divert your attention from an already busy holiday line-up. There have been so many excellent racers in the past few years, that GRID just doesn?t do enough to justify its purchase price in my mind. It?s a fun game, sure, but I don?t think you?ll find it to be all that memorable in the long run.

Note: Deep Silver provided us with a GRID PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-