Review by inchoatejake

"And I don't even like racing games..."

I think the first thing to be said is that I'm not a huge racing game fan, and as such I'm still not sure why I bought this game. Perhaps memories of hours wasted on Gran Turismo on the PS1 (even though I was terrible at it).

Nontheless (even as a non racing gamer type) I'm pleasantly surprised by this title. I have no doubt that many of its features are present in newer racing games etc, but as someone who hasn't played the genre for many years it's reignited a spark in my petrol deprived existence.

Firstly the graphics.

Wow! I've seen the adverts etc and I have to say I'm not disappointed in the slightest. I'm far from a tech expert but everything looks crisp and I've not noticed any discernable frame rate slow downs. The cars look good, and generally everything is shiny. The damage is pretty good as well, but from what I've heard of Forza on the original Xbox/360 isn't anything particularly new or special - but it made me grin to smash my destruction derby car to bits (more on that later).

Sound

Well the cars go "brum" and screech when they brake. Not sure what else there is to say (well the thumping techno on the replays is pretty annoying). I did however like being able to put in my own name, so the management etc says my name on the menus.

Gameplay

This is (and always has been) the sticking point in a racking game. There are three types of racing: American, European and Japanese. Basically American seems to consist of muscle cars and demolition derbys (yay for Demolition Derby on the PS1!). European is stock car racing, straight racing etc (not that different from American sans demolitions derby to me) and Japan has drift racing as a predominant factor. Which I am quite happy, by the way, to admit I am awful at. There's a strange Prince of Persia reference in the game, dependant upon your difficulty you get a set number of "flashbacks". Basically, these allow you to rewind a small replay of the game and reset your position to that point. It's useful for avoiding smash ups, or even bad corners where you've lost position. As an awful driver, I found this exceptionally useful rather than just restarting the whole race because I misjudged a corner on the last lap.

The cars handle well, but very arcadey - with all the extras turned on, i.e. assisted breaking and traction control, you can drift around the corners pretty easily without much difficulty. There is also the end of season Le Mans race, which adds a degree of spice. Obviously as a quick review I haven't opened up the later stages - but how different can things get?

As an aside, you can customise your car. But this amounts to picking your paint job and a number. Well...you can also choose sponsors, but they just add money for buying cars, based upon your race results, and go out of their way to make your car look ugly. From having watched my brother play Need for Speed for years, this is clearly nothing new and doesn't even look that detailed in comparison.

Well I've given it an 8/10. The gameplay is bound to get boring at some point - it's racing round and round, and unless you're a huge fan of distorted circles that's all it effectively is. I'm enjoying it at the moment, but my enthusiasim wanes when I see that I need over 2 million of X experience in order to be the "best in the world". I can't see any but the most racing game obsessed, or the World of Warcraft Obsessed, reaching this target. But regardless of that, this is a racing game that has actually made me sit down and play it for several hours with a hankering to go back for more. Kudos to Codemasters, they've made me enjoy a genre I've refused to play for years.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/03/08

Game Release: Race Driver: GRID (EU, 05/30/08)


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