Grid Autosport Review
It’s a shame no one will care about Grid Autosport.
Whether it’s the proximity to the last release – Grid 2 – the seeming lack of anything new or, quite simply, the fact that it’s only launching on last-gen consoles, there just doesn’t seem to be all that much interest in Grid Autosport.
And, in fairness, Grid Autosport does feel more like a ‘Best Of Codemasters Racing’ package, a greatest hits of the team’s plethora of racing projects.
In some ways that’s a huge compliment – Codemasters is well known for its high quality racing games – but in other ways it can feel a little forced and, perhaps, even a little lazy.
Grid Autosport’s Handling
Of course the handling is core to any racing game, and since many didn’t appreciate the fling-it-around-a-bend-at-80-mph sense of speed that Grid 2 provided, Codemasters has tweaked things a little here.
With Grid Autosport there’s a greater sense of weight and power behind the machines, and though drifting will play a part of some tracks and bends here you’ll still need to pay much more heed to braking.
It’s still not quite simulation racer levels of precision, but it’s more attuned to fans of the original Grid than Grid 2 ever was.
What is impressive is how the five different categories of Grid Autosport feel, for want of a less loose and flowery description.
Covering street racing, tuner (drifting), open wheel (Formula), endurance (obvious) and the return of Touring cars, Codemasters fits all sorts of categories into Grid Autosport.
And to its credit they’re all very distinct forms of racing. Touring is very pack-focused, about shunting your way around corners and coming out on top.
Street is perhaps the one most similar to the Grid series, combining city tracks with high-speed straights and sudden and sharp bends. The open wheel races are a whole other breed entirely, with as many spinouts as there are corners.
They all require a very particular way of racing, however, and each time you switch from one group to another you’ll need to readjust. That’s a good thing, though, because mechanically Grid Autosport still maintains that sense of power without wresting control from you.
The Problem With Grid Autosport
Despite the solid underlying core, though, Grid Autosport suffers with an extremely barebones career mode.
By being presented with little more than a string of menu decisions, there’s very little to get excited about each time you boot up Grid Autosport; just a set of limited choices, and nothing else.
This is true of the majority of the Career mode, too.
The ultimate objective is to complete in each of the five racing categories to reach a certain level to unlock the Grid event. Then repeat.
While progression in racing games is rarely handled well, however, this all feels very arbitrary, and is presented in a very clear-cut, and depressingly simple, set of increasing bars.
It’s basically saying ‘this is how much you have left to play’, each time you complete a season. Progression for the sake of progression, really.
While the tubular attitude of the Dirt series often rubbed players up the wrong way, it’s much more preferable to this clinical and uninteresting method.
But it’d be more forgivable if you at least had a little bit of control or input over proceedings.
Grid Autosport’s Lack Of Choices
Sure you can choose whether you play a Street event instead of an Endurance one, but that’s about it.
The cars are picked for you, their upgrades are limited (and rarely have any additional options) and even your ability to tweak or alter a vehicle’s setup is decided by the event you participate in.
At best you can pick which team you race for, but this is such a binary choice it barely seems worth the effort of its inclusion. Razer or Oakley? Kicker or Razer? Intel or Razer?
Yes, you’ll race for Razer a lot.
Where’s the option to pick a favourite car, build a rapport with a particular sponsor or even purchase upgrades and tweak your car’s set up?
Hell, Grid 2 at least had the option to customise liveries – even if it wasn’t quite as vast as Forza’s options.
You can still customise the difficulty of the game, tailoring every aspect of the underlying systems – from realistic damage to assisted braking – to earn you cumulative extra XP based on your settings.
And to its credit Grid Autosport is a much trickier racer than Grid 2. You’ll find you won’t be quite as comfortable reaching the head of the pack, and part of that comes in the new reliance on these very well-rounded driving mechanics.
Grid Autosport Review
Things aren’t helped much with the inclusion of a large number of tracks carried over from Grid 2. It’s all a little too familiar in that regard.
That’s not to say there are no new tracks or cars, and the return of Touring cars should be commended – Codemasters has done a great job of it here and it’s perfectly suited to Grid Autosport’s very particular flavour of racing.
Perhaps Grid Autosport would’ve worked better as a (sizeable) expansion pack to Grid 2, or as a cheaper release to appease fans. As it stands, it doesn’t feel like it offers enough new – and that’s a shame.
Course all this could be forgiven if it was also released on PS4 and Xbox One, to appease the masses as a cross-generational game. The step up in visuals, perhaps, would’ve felt like enough.
It’s true that fewer gamers own the latest generation, but in many ways Grid Autosport seems like a last-ditch cash grab before moving onto the new consoles.
That’s an unfair statement because the overhauled racing mechanics are changes far-reaching enough to appeal to series’ fans, but in truth there needed to be more added on top – both in terms of new content and a fully-fleshed out career mode – to make Grid Autosport more of a tempting prospect.
As it stands, Grid Autosport’s appeal is too limited to recommend to all but the most diehard of racing game fans. The tweaked handling will perhaps convince gamers burned by Grid 2’s bombastic design approach, but arguably the damage has already been done in that regard.
Version tested: PS3