Home Game Reviews Grid (2019) : Return to Arcade Racing Roots

Grid (2019) : Return to Arcade Racing Roots

Grid (2019) Arcade Racing Review

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Grid 2019 Feature Picture copy
Grid 2019

Title: GRID (2019)
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Released: October 10, 2019
Platforms Available: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Game
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Level of Maturity: Everyone
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Where to Buy GRID (2019) ?

This is not the usual start of the review, but the game we will speak about, GRID 2019 is unavailable in main stores in 2024 and cannot be purchased digitally allegedly anymore. This is unfortunate, but that is the negative part of licensing which these games obtain for cars or tracks and for a limited time only. There is always a way to get the physical copy or digital key, but well, here we are… get a copy of Grid 2019 on Amazon and read further 🙂

Grid 2019 is unavailable at Steam
Steam : Not avalailable 🙁 same as for other platforms)

Return to Arcade Racing

The Grid racing series, previously known as TOCA Race Driver, has carved a unique niche for itself by balancing arcade and simulation elements. While past titles like Grid Autosport or GRID 2 showed promise, the developers’ struggle to find a clear direction was evident. This led British Codemasters to reboot the series titled Grid. This return to the arcade racing roots is a significant shift, and you can explore how it fared in the review below.

Immediate Immersion

I’m no stranger to either direction when it comes to racing games, but you don’t have to point a tank gun at my head to reveal that I prefer the arcade. That’s why the return of the Grid series to its roots made me happy. I was similarly pleased with the game’s very introduction, which honors simplicity and directness. I was immediately thrown into three single-lap races featuring basic content types, particularly a heavily arcade-driving model. This was followed by a straightforward introductory menu, through which I clicked through to the main thing – the career. No wannabe emotive featurettes about a driver who can climb to the top of the racing throne. No nickname setting, rider creation, or introductory chatter that Codemasters otherwise squeeze into just about every other racing game. Just a variety of races across six racing directions. If you’re craving something more complex, you’ll probably be taken aback by this straightforward approach, but Grid gives me everything I ask for in this regard.

Career Mode: Flexibility and Freedom

It’s not all about the initial deception, however. Throughout your career, you’re basically asked to do nothing, as you can choose which direction to take from the start. Plus, you can freely jump from race type to race type. So you can jump from supercharged supersports to slow races with the Miglia Mini at the touch of a button. Of course, different kinds of races require different cars, and of course, you have to buy those with the money you win, but the game is so generous that your virtual wallet will never be empty, which means you’ll avoid any grind.

Content Limitations

Unlike other games, you don’t have to race in old cans like Miglia Mini at the start of your career. But if you’re up for it, you can always take on the retro duels in the Invitational category. Unfortunately, where Grid’s competition misses out is in the amount of content. While the career offers around a hundred races, these only occur on 12 real and fictional circuits. Hence, the only variable capable of spicing up the racing is the number of vehicles, which isn’t particularly dazzling. There are 70 cars in total, but once you’re divided into the various classes, you’ll get an average of 15 vehicles, which is a slightly narrow range for today. For comparison’s sake, let’s recall that Forza Horizon 4, for example, already introduced around 400 cars in the base.

The fact that the Grid introduces fairly realistic body destruction for the first time in the series, something that many manufacturers logically struggle with, plays a part. After all, when you’re making luxury sports cars, you don’t want your vehicles to show up anywhere, even in a computer game, with, for example, a bumper torn off. However, I can’t help feeling that, like virtually everything from Codemasters (with the honorable exception of F1), Grid is, to some extent, a developer’s speed bump because this studio is clearly all about quantity. In other words, there could have been more circuits, cars, and game modes in the game. But I can’t outright dismiss the racing circuits. The usual mix of licensed and entirely fictional tracks works very well. We get to see, for example, sunny San Francisco, modern Shanghai, or a few loops of the legendary (and real) Silverstone, while the purely fictional Okutama circuit also has something to offer. Plus, the individual tracks offer different variations, so the variety is pretty.

Driving Experience and Mechanics

Okay, we already know that the career is austere but nicely punchy, and Grid is unlikely to please you with fewer cars. But how does the new Grid actually play? Is it fun to drive? It is! But if you’re a fan of realistic racing, which Codemasters also does very well, you’ll quickly run into the ramparts of the purest arcade experience. Otherwise, however, you’ll enjoy playing the new Grid. In many ways, however, the driving model goes too far. You’ll hardly notice the differences between cars in the same class, but still, even a complete beginner will be able to tell the beastly power of the Chevrolet Camaro’s eight-cylinder rear-wheel drive and the high, yet sleek performance of a Porsche 911 in any trim.

The truth is, however, that fans of purely arcade racing don’t even require significant differences between the cars, and more importantly, unlike in racing simulators, they can hop into another car and become one with its chassis in a single lap. That’s exactly what Grid offers, and while you’ll find sliders in the pause menu that adjust or even disable aids like ABS or traction control, turning them off completely doesn’t detract much from the arcade experience. Despite its unquestionable fun, however, I can’t praise the Grid’s driving model to the skies. It’s true that the cars don’t feel like boxes on four wheels, and the authors have clearly worked with variables like the weight of the car or its drivetrain, but I can’t help feeling that the cars are often somewhat floaty on the road. One might expect Grid not to surpass the king of arcade racing, Forza Horizon 4, in terms of its driving model, but purely for myself, I have to say that even the likes of the low-budget Wreckfest is slightly better. It’s fun to drive, but you don’t feel the rawness of the asphalt-ripping wheels, the transitions between surfaces, or the drifts that are easy to induce but all the harder to successfully navigate.

Nemesis System and AI

However, the AI dramatically enhances the enjoyment of the racing itself, which is quite hilarious. It’s not you versus the whole racing grid; you’re just one of many for your opponents, so you can see skirmishes between individual drivers or mass crashes in sharp corners that are hard to avoid. But you can also pit other drivers against each other because Grid comes with a nemesis system. Codemasters is one of the most experienced, so unlike some rival titles, you won’t be plagued by cheating AI that suddenly starts catching up with you on the last lap, even though you’re still driving perfectly. All you have to do is nudge one of the racers or tap them once harder, and they’ll instantly become your arch-enemy, oblivious to the outcome of the race, blushing in front of their eyes, and all they’ll settle for is running you off the track. Such enemies are then very subtle and will crash into you in just the right way to get you to skid or, ideally, off the race clock. I like this new feature a lot, as the arcade feel of the game doesn’t penalize bumping into opponents and other aggressive elements that are punished in more realistic titles. Yet, thanks to the Nemesis system, you’ll have to watch your on-track behavior. Here, you’ll also benefit from very brief team management, which consists only of being able to recruit one other racer to your team from a ready-made menu. You can summon this at the touch of a button when your nemesis is breathing down your rear spoiler, and you need a partner to help you with the pursuer. I could do without this simple team management, but it’s actually a nice touch, and some bodyguard is quite handy during the actual races.

Visuals and Effects

One of the things I often heard from my friends who recommended the game was the races in the rain. Why? They are simply beautiful. The writers managed the effects of the drops running down the camera as well as the rainwater splashing off the rear wheels. Unfortunately, it’s only the various special effects that make Grid visually impressive. The night race in neon Shanghai is as appealing as the colorful confetti and fireworks at the end of the race, but when you don’t have that glitter in front of you, Grid looks passable at best. Playing around with various effects or weather can conjure up some beautiful scenery, but on the whole, Grid didn’t present anything revolutionary on the PlayStation 4. I’m getting embarrassed to mention Forza Horizon 4 in this review as the definition of quality within the genre. Still, even in terms of visuals, Codemasters didn’t outdo their equally British colleagues at Playground Games. Also, the circuits could have been considerably more detailed and had better textures. On the other hand, where I have to praise the developers are the wonderfully animated spectators leaning over the fences around the track, eager to catch a glimpse of their racing favorite, or other small details such as the cameras hanging above the track, which naturally pan according to the movement of the vehicles passing underneath. For now, though, I’d like to head to the finish line of this review.

Conclusion

Grid (2019) is a good game, but not a revolution. The authors simply went back to where they started and did it… pretty solidly. The range of game modes is pretty decent, too, where I find the split-screen or more elaborate multiplayer, for example, woefully lacking. The visual effects are gorgeous, but the level of basic textures is no slouch. If Grid had been released with a bit more diverse content overall, I wouldn’t be afraid to aim higher.

However, the straightforward career mode, vibrant nemesis system, and engaging arcade racing dynamics make it an enjoyable experience for fans of the genre. The game shines in its ability to provide fun, accessible racing with a touch of realism. The car variety and track designs offer enough to keep players entertained, though it doesn’t push boundaries. In competition with, for example, Wreckfest, which was released in the same year and created by a much smaller studio, Grid shows its limitations but remains a solid entry. Overall, Grid (2019) delivers a satisfying arcade racing experience, making it worth playing despite its shortcomings.

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