With Grid Autosport, the developers at Codemasters hope to return the series to the glory days of Race Driver: Grid, while carrying over the positive game mechanics from Grid 2. Even though the middle installment of the franchise was well received by critics, hardcore racing simulation fans were bitter that the studio set its sights on more casual fans, overlooking many of the features that made the original so successful. Will the latest entry in the franchise succeed at pulling away from the pack, or is it likely to end up lost in the middle of the field?
A Flashback to Glory
While the original Race Driver: Grid captured the interest of casual and hardcore fans alike, Grid 2 upset the latter for skipping some of the more authentic features, opting instead to appeal to a wider audience. With Grid: Autosport, Codemasters aims to find a balance that will appeal to every type of race fan. For those looking for that white knuckle, first-person tunnel vision, the Cockpit View is back and it's unforgiving. On the other side of the fence, players looking for a more casual experience will enjoy the optional Flashback feature, allowing them to rewind the action a bit in order to get a second crack at that tricky turn.
Blink and You'll Miss It
As one might expect, players who game on the PC will be the benefactors of the highest frame rates and screen resolutions. While the technical details still aren't known, early game play shows off a number of beautiful tracks and locations that users on any platform will enjoy. Whether you wish to test your skills on the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway or race through the streets of Paris, each of the 22 locations will offer three or more possible routes to keep things fresh.
While Grid: Autosport promises to offer a beautiful tour of the globe, one of the more subtle features might be the key to authenticity. While reaching top speed in Cockpit View, players will enter a tunnel vision, a state that real drivers experience where the environment around them begins to blur. Details like that are what hardcore players can count on to give them the adrenaline rush they missed from Grid 2, while more casual fans should be impressed by the visual effect.
A Career Wheelman
A wide variety of locations and tracks are a fantastic and necessary feature, but in order for a game to have some longevity, players must be able to put themselves into the shoes of professional drivers. With Grid: Autosport's Career mode, players can not only join a racing team, they can hire teammates, fulfil the requests of their sponsors and even switch to another club if things dont go well.
When all the administrative work is done and it's time to put the rubber to the road, there will be a total of five racing disciplines to choose from, including Open Wheel, Street, Endurance, Touring and Tuner. If you happen to be a big fan of Street, but not so much Tuner, you can choose to focus all your time on one, never fussing with those you don't enjoy. In that way, Career mode is wide open, giving each player the opportunity to tweak their experience to suit their needs.
Taking another step further into the depths of Career mode, players can now work with their team and fellow drivers to adjust in-race strategy or even request some vital updates. With a push of the button, you'll be able to instruct your teammate to push the pace, moving up through the field in order to gain a few valuable points, or tell them to drive defensively and hold off the advancing competition. Whether it's the front office or heat of the asphalt, there's always decisions to be made that can help lead your team to victory.
An Exclusive Club
While Grid: Autosport promises to offer offline fans an in-depth experience, those who wish to test their skills online will not be disappointed. Whether you want to see how you stack up globally or create your own club and invite all your friends, no player will be left behind.
Building on Global Challenge mode from Grid 2, RaceNet will give players a chance to prove they are the best in their favourite discipline by providing weekly challenges. Featuring challenges for each discipline as well as one wildcard challenge, you will finally be able to prove your claim that you're the best Open Wheel driver in the world. However, if online gaming is more about the social aspect for you, feel free to create your own online Racing Club, allowing you to drive under team colours against other clubs.
While Grid: Autosport is its own game, Codemasters should bring the best features from the first two installments into this hybrid. Balancing graphics and game mechanics, offline and online game modes, casual and hardcore fans will agree that Codemasters is on the right track.