Grid Autosport - Review
If you're anything like me, then you know nothing about cars. Models, makes, numbers, it's a foreign language. This all makes playing a game like Grid Autosport very interesting and somewhat bewildering.
Following on from their success with Grid 2, Codemasters have constantly proven that if it's well-crafted, consistent and engaging racing games you're after, then they're the ones to turn to. They might not have the marketing heft of the big budget first party racers like Gran Turismo and Forza but they make up for it by taking a no-nonsense approach to creating good racing games.
As with Grid 2, Grid Autosport has you enter various events, slowly unlocking new races as you progress and getting better and better cars as you improve. This time around events are divided up into five different groups, with a sixth one, the titular Grid events, being unlocked once you've amassed enough points in the other disciplines. This is where Autosport's unevenness first starts to show as some events are simply more fun than others.
Street races are still one of the biggest highlights, with plenty of cars packed into claustrophobic lanes and forced to hit tight corners at uncomfortably high speeds. These are Autosport at its strongest simply because things are constantly happening, it's rare for the pack of racers to get spread out and so places are constantly shifting as everyone jostles for poll position. There's a viciousness and liveliness to these events that's sometimes lacking from other races.
Likewise, touring events are solid, if rather basic, with many of the tracks on offer seeming rather similar to one another and never quite setting themselves apart all that much. Then there's the more wild card events which include drift challenges (fun in short bursts) and time trials (yawn). The aptly named endurance races are the weakest inclusion however, going on for way too long with not enough to hold your interest. In theory these events are designed to reward the more cautious driver, by ensuring that those who maintain their car the best having an advantage. In reality though, it simply leads to the opposite of what usually happens in street races; with drivers getting separated and very little interaction going on; the highlight of a race being that one guy you managed to overtake two laps ago.
There's a healthy selection of cars throughout the single player campaign but the fact that you're constantly tied to sponsorship deals removes a lot of your decisions somewhat. Rather than simply choosing the car that you think will handle the race the best you're instead required to pick from a variety of challenges put up by various sponsors. Many of these aren't especially complicated, usually requiring you finish at least halfway up the leader board, or perhaps beat your on-track rival over several races.
Meeting achievement conditions will reward you with additional experience points which are needed in order to progress to later events. It gives the main game something of a multiplayer feel, what with its open-endedness and focus on grinding towards further achievements. It's a shame that the main Grid events require you to succeed at every category however, meaning that, if you want to get any further, you have to complete the less than thrilling endurance challenges as well as race on some of the weaker tracks.
As a single player game it's something of a step down from Grid 2. Many of Autosport's assets feel lifted from the previous title, and the awkward wooden crowds that come out to watch you give some of the tracks something of a soulless feel. Likewise, there's a blandness to the whole experience at times, the Sky Sports look and tone providing the game with plenty of style but seeming strangely empty at the same time.
Fortunately, multiplayer does clear up some of the game's bigger problems. Unlike the single player, you have the ability to purchase new cars and tweak them to whatever specifications you need for the challenges you face. At the time of playing, the online community seemed rather healthy, with races firing up fairly quickly and providing a noticeably different challenge to the main game. Whilst Grid Autosport's AI is nothing to sniff at, albeit somewhat sedate for the most part, there's something extra thrilling about competing against other real life racers, and, given the skill of some players, you're never short of a challenge.
Overall, there's a very clear reason this isn't called "Grid 3". Codemasters have effectively cobbled together one last racing game for the 360/PS3 generation whilst there's still time left. Autosport regularly feels like it was made by a machine; piecing together just the right amount of things together from Grid 2. For fans of the series; welcome to what effectively is a full-fat expansion pack. For everyone else, you're perhaps best sticking with Grid 2.
Grid Autosport was released on June 27th for the 360, PS3 and PC.
This review is based on the 360 version.
© 2014 LudoLogic