Codemasters is heading back to the circuits and streets of the world with a new twist in their popular GRID franchise. This time the team is combining multiple race disciplines into one game. With GRID Autosport gamers can take the wheel of super fast endurance cars, highly tuned open wheeled cars or tricked out tuner cars. You’ll be tasked with finishing as high as possible and earning points for your race team. While GRID Autosport offers a bunch of variety unlike other racers from Codemasters, the quality of the racing action is all over the place.
A big chunk of your time will be racing through multiple seasons in the game’s career mode. Each season consists of a few events in a single discipline of your choosing at the start of the season. There are 5 disciplines in all, Touring, Endurance, Tuner, Open-Wheel, Street Racing. Each discipline puts you behind specialized cars and has you driving unique circuits. However the Touring, tuner and Street Racing cars all felt very similar, with the main difference being the circuits or events you will compete in. For instance Touring events are large wide circuits, while street racing has you on tight city street courses, and then Tuner mixes both together but puts you in time attack and drift style events. So while the cars might feel very similar in these 3 disciplines the techniques and skills you have to use to compete in the events are hugely different.
Each season is set-up relatively the same. At the start you pick the discipline you want to race for that season and then you’ll pick a team from various team offers. Different offers will reward different XP amounts. As you race and complete team objectives you’ll earn XP and increase your rank. Each rank you increase opens up new offers and new events. The first few seasons of a discipline are pretty quick but further along the number of events increase.
Unlike the other racers in the Codemasters library, GRID Autosport is not a difficult game to pick-up. Each discipline is very easy to pick up and master after a few laps. No matter how hard you make the game it doesn’t challenge anywhere close to F1 or DiRT does. The only difference I really felt in difficulty was that the AI became even more aggressive and unbearable to race against.
On Track Action
Codemasters has always done a great job at capturing the speed and action of racing in its titles. From the intense mud flying of DiRT to the realistic changes to how the track and cars handle in F1. GRID Autosport is a bit of a mixed bag in the on track department. Firstly the AI is horrible. Your opponents are more demolition derby drivers, side swiping and jamming you at every opportunity. There is also a teammate function added to the game which when used properly can really help you in the standings. Using the bumpers you can alter how aggressive or defensive your teammate is driving. This can be used to help you in many ways. For instance if your teammate is ahead of you, you can have them drive defensive, which causes them to block heavily, many times this will cause the field to slow down and get jammed up allowing you to catch up and pass. You can also use your teammate as a blocker if they are behind you. Unfortunately your teammate forgets you are on the same team when you are trying to overtake them and will act like the other AI side swiping and jamming you in every corner.
Car controls are pretty generic, you have some difference between open wheel and the other cars, but the controls are nowhere near the same level we have seen in the past. And no matter the length of the event the cars never really feel any different unless you take damage. In F1 you would feel the track and car change as more rubber was laid down, in GRID Autosport open wheel races feel the same at the start and end of the event. However if you drive reckless and smash-up your car you will feel the damage, messing up the steering will cause the car to pull, damaging the engine will make you lose power.
The Sights and Sounds
The GRID, DiRT and F1 franchises have always been amazing looking games. Unfortunately this outing is a bit of a mixed bag. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve played so many racing games on the Xbox One lately that going back to the 360 has skewed my perception. But compared to the specialized racing titles Codemasters has put out, GRID Autosport is just a bit off in the visuals department. The environments don’t have as much pop as we saw in DiRT 3, crowds and trees are low quality and just draw your attention away. And the car effects, like sparks, smoke and damage just aren’t up to the quality we see in F1 and GRID 2. I really think that the scope and scale of the game requires a lot of power and space something that the new consoles aren’t as limited on. Also with the inclusion of a pretty nice cockpit view which fans have wanted a lot of visual resources were used up. Sitting in the cockpit view is a pretty awesome experience and the team have done a great job to capture the speed and feel of being in these different race cars.
The Wrap Up
GRID Autosport is a deep racing game from a developer that I consider being the top in the racing genre. However even with the game’s depth it has a few flaws that we haven’t witnessed in earlier games under the Codemasters umbrella. I think some are due to limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3, but others are just due to the attempt at creating such a huge and varied racing game. Visuals aside the biggest issue with this game is the AI. The AI just makes the game annoying at times. If you aren’t out front, you should expect a demolition derby, as the AI’s top goal seems to be hit everything that moves. There is a ton of potential in GRID Autosport and I love the variety in racing styles and events. I think with a little more attention to the AI system and more horsepower from the current-gen consoles this would have been another hit for Codemasters, for now I’d stick to the fun of GRID 2 and DiRT 3.
A copy of GRID Autosport for Xbox 360 was provided to us by Codemasters
Variety in Events and Disciplines, Track and event Variety, Split-Screen Multiplayer
Horrible AI, Mixed Graphics