It’s been a while since I’ve really dived head first into a realistic racing game. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that the ones I tried were often either too inaccessible, too serious, or not quite realistic enough to draw me in, having some blatantly silly elements contrasting badly with the otherwise straight tone.
So having over-indulged on Mario Kart and similar titles, and having finally actually passed my REAL driving test, I come to GRID Autosport in the hopes of finally having the chance to really enjoy a racing experience.
The first thing I noticed was the massive emphasis on authenticity. It definitely wants you to feel like a real racer, with the understated tone of the menu screens and general professionalism working well to pull you in.
And helping you buy into the feel is the meat of the experience; the career mode. Consisting of five disciplines; Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner and Street, you’re thrown into increasingly difficult races against increasingly talented AI opponents.
Touring is what you’d expect; pack racing at it’s finest, fighting for positions in tight professional tracks. It’s high contact and very focus on the combined effort between you and your AI team-mate. This was the first I attempted and found the learning curve helped me in future races, with the team-based co-operation a particular highlight. Despite only having five AI settings, each were useful at different times in the races, and the combination of your own racing with the control of your team-mate was a challenging yet refreshing experience.
It led well into my experience with the Endurance discipline, where I had to cope with extended races and difficult road conditions. Balancing the usual racing you’d expect with the stresses of long races on your car was again, refreshing and well-executed, though I feel it was a weaker aspect of the title.
Open wheel is all about F1 vehicles, and grid position. It’s fast, but the difficulties you find in passing in the Touring mode are amplified by this. Positions follow you through the races, so climbing that board is your number one priority. This mode really felt special though for it’s authenticity and making you feel like an Autosport professional.
Tuner is what you’ll go to for an experience closer to previous games in the series. Combining a variety of challenges including time attack, drift and general purpose racing, it really requires the most breath of skills out of the five main disciplines and excels in what it does. It’s traditional, but in a good way.
Finally we come to Street. I love Street, for it’s high-speed nature and the intensity at which you fly along the road. It’s full of evolving tracks and split-second decisions as you race through the city streets.
Despite the variety of modes however, probably the most important thing in any Racing simulator is the car handling itself. I’m pleased to say that each car feels different and interesting, but they all feel good AND meaty to drive. I wouldn’t say it’s realistic, but the game as a whole feels as Authentic as it could be. It takes a while for we none-racing types to get used to, but the combination of subtle handling and acceleration differences really make each ride unique and each race won incredibly satisfying.
One of my favourite features is the dynamic nature of the difficulty. Yes, there are standard settings, but each is customisable to a fault. If the AI is too hard but you like having all of your in-car assistance off, you can, just like you could take on the hardest opponents possible whilst still seeing the perfect racing line. This makes the game as a whole incredibly approachable even to novices like myself, and potentially incredibly challenging to experts.
I’m astounded by the in-engine graphics in this game. It’s good to see companies finally putting real effort into their PC releases, and although I occasionally saw slight pixalation in certain textures, overall the in-motion experience is beautiful, looking almost like the real thing. It looks next-gen (or is it current-gen now?…) in almost every respect, again contributing to the authentic feel of the title. The Cars themselves are really well modelled, and there is a large selection that you’ll drive and drive against. It’s good to see a lot of effort put into realistic vehicles, making the whole experience so much better for their quality.
The game itself wouldn’t be complete however without the stellar audio. Though there isn’t a particularly wide soundtrack, the ambient menu sound and the warm voice of the narrator mix great with the well-recorded and accurate representations of the vehicle engines themselves, again adding to the authentic feel.
The last thing that tickled me and really drew me in was the selection of sponsors. It’s nice to see a few unexpected sponsors trickling into the list, with Razor always being my preference due to how nice their paint-jobs look! I enjoyed the fact they got so many good sponsors involved in the game, including Monster.
Anyway, moving away from the green logo’s of the aforementioned, I conclude that GRID Autosport is a pretty awesome racing experience. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you love racing with an authentic spin, then you won’t find a better recent release. It may be rather padded by a few grindy moments, but I really enjoyed my time with it and highly recommend giving it a go.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.