By Steven Marsh

Published on Sunday, June 22, 2008

Graphics: 8.50
Sound: 7.50
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 7.50
Gamelength: 7.50

Codemasters’ “GRID” is finally here and as far as arcade racers go, it’s one of the best out there.

Racing fans, as far as I’m concerned, Burnout is no longer the one and only champion of next-gen arcade racing. I’m going to give you a glimpse into the future of this review: GRID is freakin’ sweet. I’m still partial to Burnout, but there’s no denying how great this game is. So, if you’d like to see why GRID is so awesome, hop into the car with me as I tour the world in Codemasters’ “GRID” for PlayStation 3.

Graphics freaks rejoice, “GRID” looks as awesome as it plays. Sure, the cars don’t look entirely as good as those found in Gran Turismo 5, but that aside, everything is still completely and utterly gorgeous. The damage models are pretty damn sexy, the racing environments are top notch and the sense of speed is wonderful. From the moment the disc loads until the credits roll, the game is an explosion of car-filled eye candy. No, this game is not the next “Crysis”, for those who may be familiar with that ridiculous monster of a game, but as far as the racing genre goes, there’s not much competition out there.

I have to be honest here and thus, I have to dock some points in the sound department because of the unrealistic vehicle sounds. Engines, breaks, exhaust; it all sounds fake and in some respects, it sounds “cheap”. To Codemasters’ credit, everything sounds crisp and completely clear, which by my own standards is perfectly fine for a more arcade-style racing game. Had “GRID” been more of a serious simulation title with more (intentional) depth, this might annoy me a lot more.

Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. That’s exactly what I thought to myself directly following my first race in “GRID”. I kept repeating that over and over throughout the course of my journey around the world and the feeling only grew stronger. The game places you in the seat of various vehicles as an up-and-coming race driver. The goal of the main mode, “Grid World”, is to gain reputation and earn lots of money. That’s where most of your time will be spent and really, there’s not much to say about it. You’ll tour Japan, Europe and the good ol’ USA and ultimately become the world’s finest driver. The racing experience is very arcade-like and is extremely tight. Controlling the vehicles is very easy for the most part and the physics are a bit unrealistic, but don’t let that fool you. You’ll be crashing quite often and sometimes even be completely eliminated from a race due to the mass amount of damage to your vehicle. The AI can be quite intelligent at times, too, which makes for a very fun racing experience. Fret not, however, as there is an awesome feature called “Flashback”. When enabled, players have the opportunity to rewind a race in the event that they crash or make a mistake. This can only be done a certain amount of times, which is entirely based on your chosen difficulty setting and there are higher cash rewards for avoiding the use of the Flashback feature completely in any race. It makes the game a bit easy at times, but there’s enough of an overall challenge to keep even the most avid gamers busy for quite a while. Vehicle upgrades are handled in a very straight-forward, simple-minded way in comparison to most games out there these days. When a player wants a new vehicle, he or she must simply buy a new one. There’s no way to upgrade your tires, exhaust, engine, etc. I was a bit disappointed by that aspect of the game, but the focus here is on the racing experience and nothing else. When you go to buy a new car, you can purchase it new or you can check eBay and see what you can find. There’s some risk involved in buying used vehicles, but it’s pretty easy to catch on and weed out the bad selections. Aside from the very long and extremely enjoyable “Grid World” mode, there’s plenty to do online. Players can partake in a good number of race types together via online multiplayer and while there’s not really anything new on that side of things, it’s very solid and well-made. Nothing extends a game more than online multiplayer and even without any new features or innovations, it definitely gets the job done. This is a really awesome game, but if you’re looking for a game to replace the “Gran Turismo” or “Forza” series, you wont find it here. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to something along the lines of “Burnout”, “GRID” may be just what you need.

Overall, I have to say that Codemasters has done a really wonderful job with this title and I look forward to another entry in the series in the future.

-Great graphics.
-Realistic sense of speed.
-Plenty of events to complete.
-Very solid online multiplayer.
-Perfect difficulty curve for all types of gamers.
-Flashback is a really badass feature.
-Never a dull moment during an event.
-Car damage is really well done.

-No upgrade system to speak of.
-A bit too easy at times.
-Cars sound completely unrealistic and “cheap”.

Bottom line:
If you’re a fan of the “Race Driver” series, “Burnout” or any other true arcade racing game out there, I highly recommend this game. For those of you who are more into the realistic racing simulation titles, rent this game before you buy, but definitely give it a chance. “GRID” deserves to be a part of any car lover’s video game collection.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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