Codemasters Grid Autosport is arguably the last great racing game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; players can also rev their engines on the PC. With this in mind, its apropos that the publisher release this title in June, with Forza Horizon 2 and DriveClub speeding to retail for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively. One final victory lap around the track before the series presumably makes the jump to more powerful hardware. If that is the case, the developers achieved a fine sendoff for one of the most well respected racing franchises.
In some ways, Autosport is Codemasters way of amending debatable criticism with Grid 2, most notably the absence of a cockpit view. It makes a return in this semi-sequel, except driving fans may not enjoy the two perspectives, largely because the dials dont work. Considering recent advancements with cockpit design, particularly Turn 10s Forza Motorsport 5, this feels undoubtedly last generation.
Graphics that defy current gen expectations
To be fair, the cockpit issue is one minor complaint in an otherwise beautiful game that comes with more than 100 challenging routes spread across 22 locations in such cities as Washington D.C., Barcelona, Paris, San Francisco and Dubai, complete with well-known landmarks such as the Transamerica Pyramid in San Fran and Washington Monument in D.C. If gamers prefer more traditional tracks, they have a plethora to choose from, including the Sepang International Circuit, the tricky Brands Hatch and the well-known Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
More than 70 gorgeous vehicles complement the environments, with painstaking detail that rivals the best racers on either console. Codemasters split these attractive rides across five categories (Open Wheel, Touring, Endurance, Tuner and Street), with such cars as the Audi R8, Aston Martin Vanquish, SRT Viper GTS and Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3 making the cut. Not as many rides compared to other games, but theres inevitably something for everyone. Even if they dont like base stats, players have the option to earn upgrades and tune their cars, adjusting engines, brakes, manage gear ratios and weight.
A demon on the road
Of course, none of these features matter if Grid Autosport sputters on the track, and thankfully, Codemasters once again delivered a fun and tightly-controlled experience thatll have gear heads coming back for more. This game shines on the road when smoke erupts from squealing tires and dirt gets kicked up from spun out adversaries. The thrilling sense of speed will excite adrenaline junkies, while the fierce computer opponents battle for position regardless of whether they are in first or last. That said, and similar to its predecessors, Autosport walks the line between simulation and arcade, with its designers striking a balance of Gran Turismo and Daytona USA. Yes, you can drift around corners at will, but theres a steep price to pay for excessive showboating, so keep your eyes on the road.
Endurance is a head-scratching category. Players must manage tire wear, though for some odd reason they cannot make pit stops to change said tires. This ultimately results in more restarts than wed prefer; no one wants to race on rims alone. In addition, the maximum amount of time in Endurance is eight speedy minutes. In that sense, its more of a quick ride.
Tuner, meanwhile, benefits from lots of drifting. At the same time, we had little difficulty beating its timed challenges, and quickly moved on to the more urban-fuelled Street option, which brings to mind fond memories playing years old Need for Speed and Project Gotham Racing games.
Overall, though, Grid Autosports Career mode feels more rigid than ex-pected. Gamers can still collect sponsors and recruit teammates, though there appears to be less commands for the latter, and wading through the plethora of races to unlock teams and objectives feels a bit monotonous.
On the multiplayer front (powered by Codemasters RaceNet), players have the opportunity to build a garage of cars, with each vehicle possessing individual stats (XP, win and loss record, etc.). Beyond that, there will be new challenges added each week, as well as in-depth stat-tracking should gamers choose to obsess over their online persona
From there, they can pit the games muscle machines against 11 other players with little lag to speak of, and on the positive side, the AI will fill in empty slots, should people encounter sparse lobbies. They can even team up with buddies to form Racing Clubs and battle rivals. Conversely, players at home can compete offline in splitscreen.
Prepare to become a racing icon
Despite minor issues with Endurance and the cockpit views, Grid Autosport presents gamers with a wild ride. Its deep career mode, attention-grabbing visuals and respectable multiplayer performance elevates the game above Grid 2 and most current generation racers. In all, a find send-off before the franchise presumably finds a home on the new crop of video game systems.
GAME's Verdict: 8/10
- Superb graphics with detailed cars and famous tracks from around the world.
- Intense racing experience that blends arcade and sim elements.
- Gratifying multiplayer with up to 12 gamers on one track..
- No working dials and mirrors in cockpit view.
- Endurance races are surprisingly short.
- Career mode becomes somewhat tiresome.