Monday 30 March 2015

GRID hits the rewind button with Autosport

Reviewed: GRID Autosport

Published 07/08/2014 | 12:34

GRID Autosport for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
GRID Autosport for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC

GRID AUTOSPORT
PS3/X360/PC
RATING: 7.5/10
AGE: 3+

WOULDN’T we all like a second chance in life? An opportunity to rewind and try again at something we fluffed?

Codemasters was stung by the cold response to last year’s GRID 2 and, instead of making a completely new game with GRID 3, set about righting some of its wrongs.

Not that GRID 2 was guilty of heinous crimes, of course. Given Codemasters’ racing pedigree dating to the seminal Colin McRae Rally games, it was a solid but unspectacular update to the brilliant original. Purists carped about its unusual handling model, the lack of a dashboard-cam option and the more stunted career.

So Codies hit the rewind button – ironic because GRID popularised the use of rewind in-game to enable players to re-try botched corners.

But with just 12 months since GRID 2 emerged, GRID Autosport was never going to be the full rewrite that presumably is still in train with GRID 3. Think of it as a game for the outspoken fans.

gridx.jpg

On the realism spectrum, Autosport sits somewhere near Gran Turismo, though neither as nerdishly obsessive nor unforgiving. But it’s still a game that forces you to focus on every second of the race, with the AI opponents putting up a fierce challenge even on lower difficulties.

The retuned handling model feels more natural, recreating the vagaries of FWD, single-seaters and 4WD with nuance. The upshot is not a quite a racing sim but a game that’s fun to drive if you concentrate.

The in-car camera has been restored but in compromised form with static dials masked by blur. But it will matter to only a subset of players who value the realism – for me, the in-car cam in any racer is a non-starter due to its claustrophobic viewpoint.

Alas, Codemasters hasn’t brought back the expansive team-management career of the first game but this still a game packed to the gills with content, including 100 tracks across 22 locations.

Autosport lines up many hours of hotly contested racing but it recycles much of last year’s unloved effort and its strict structure necessitates a lot of grinding to progress.

Long-time fans may not be completely happy with the result but a middling GRID game is still better than many another racing title.

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