There are times I wonder, why I play so many different genres of games and GRIP: Combat Racing gives me a good reason to open my mind to more than mindless shoot ’em-ups or massive open world games. So what is GRIP: Combat Racing, well you will have to go back sometime, right back to the PlayStation One Era the year 1999 with a release of a game called Rollcage. A fast and furious 3D racer from game developers Psygnosis. Which sees gamers take control of a vehicle with powerful weapons to take out other racers. Cars would be able to flip over, drives up walls and still keep driving. At the time this game was released this was the only type game that offered such quick and fluid gameplay mechanics
Moving forward to 2018 with Wired Productions behind the development with game director Chris Mallinson co-ordinating everything the idea and concepts behind Rollcage have been lifted up, given a facelift and brought to current generation consoles in the form of GRIP: Combat Racing for the Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
I actually got to play this game at EGX 2018 before I got my hands on a review copy and was already blown away by the game’s scope, design and how fun it was to play. Even my partner who is not fussed on racers sat there for some time and played the game, coming away rather satisfied.
Grip is fast Very fast, you can even break the sound barrier and you will know it, and to do it you need vehicles. Grip at launch will come with 15 in total all offering different attributes, from acceleration, max speed, grip, brakes, and strength. But now all vehicle will be available from the start, same goes for customisation and tires, everything is unlocked as you level up and get better at the game.
The vehicles currently in the roster include;
- TERRA Dominator – Unlocked at the start of the game
- TERRA Rhino – Unlocked at level 12
- TERRA Dreadnought – Unlocked at level 3
- C.Y.G.O.N Ictus – Unlocked at the start of the game
- C.Y.G.O.N Eversor – Unlocked at level 8
- C.Y.G.O.N Tempest – Unlocked at level 19
- Vintex Rogue – Unlocked at level 9
- Vintex Warlander – Unlocked at the start of the game
- Vintex Juggernaut – Unlocked at level 7
- Pariah Bandit – Unlocked at level 11
- Pariah Jackal – Unlocked at level 6
- Pariah Renegade – Unlocked at level 14
- NY.Noss7 Mirage – Unlocked at Level 5
- NY.Noss7 Phantom – Unlocked at Level 17
I started with the TERRA Dominator and got used to how the game played, and the controls. Keeping with controls, there is no way to reconfigure the buttons, and the only control options available is Vibration on or off, the strength of vibration, Steering sensitivity, steering speed and dead zones size.
While I am in the options screen, let’s check out everything else.
Audio allows you to adjust effects volume, even mute it, and adjust music volume and mute. I thought because they had the music playlist as well you would be able to listen to the tracks, but you can only turn them on or off. Sucks really as it does say Play with the + icon, which I would have thought would have played the track, but it does nothing.
Video allows you to control brightness, contrast, gamma, saturation, and film grain. The final tag called Game allows you to turn on and off forward-facing crash cam, turn on and off hud damage effects, control the HUD opacity. Then we have field of view, speed measurement in KPH, MPH and MACH, show player names and finally split-screen layout.
So what does the game offer in the way of gameplay, well we have the campaign mode, which is played in offline mode against other AI combatants. Single player mode offers a number of amazing ways to play which include the classic race, winning means everything, the Ultimate Race, which pits you against others in a race except this time it’s all about being trigger happy. We also have the Elimination Race, which simply means be in front or lose as every 30secs another racer will disappear off the track, and finally, we have Time Trial which is simply you on the open road, a way to improve your time.
There is more than just races to enjoy in single player mode, welcome to the arena which includes deathmatch, kill or be killed, a mode called steal the stash, grab the opponents stash and return it to your base. Then the final arena match is Time Bomb, be the last car driving as you try to avoid becoming a bomb yourself.
Then for the final mode with have Carkour, or hardcore mode, tracks that will test your every skill, your nerves, your temperament to the max, developers love it, I hate it.
Being an avid fan of single player games and single players opportunities the amount on offer in this game is astounding and kept me playing for hours and hours. First I jumped into the campaign mode, to get a feel for the game and start leveling up and unlocking new vehicles, tiers, and customisations. Now the game is not as good looking as it is on PS4, PC or Xbox One, but what do you expect, they are more in home consoles with more power behind them. But this game still looks good and the emphasis on speed is still there. In handheld mode, it does look a little rougher around the edges as you can see anti-aliasing is not as good. Each and every track pushed me to the edge, and I wanted to get better each and every time, I crashed, got blocked in, went the wrong way, shot at, lost over and over. In time though I did start to get better as I got used to the controls and used to the vehicle I was plowing the road with.
After 15hours in the game, I can tell you now it is a great game if you can stay on the tracks, some tracks even have destructible objects which make the game a little more fun. It took me some time to learn to control the car I started with and I never really wanted to play any of the other cars after I had gotten used to the vehicle. Every track was different, varied and fun and each offered a challenge some more than others. Adding weapons in the game just add even more complexity and the urge to shoot everyone you come across. There are beneficial pickups along the way and will protect you from other combatants, so use them wisely, it could mean the difference from coming first to dead last.
Now playing online is not something I do a lot, and this game does offer loads of way to play, but if you do want to go online, everything that is available within single player is available in multiplayer and is just as much fun. I also had no issue getting online to have a match or two.
There is a learning curve to this game and you can not just jump in an expect to be an amazing driver, there are weapons and powerups to learn when to use and when not to use, a bit like Mario Kart, just more violent with everything is wrapped around a fully licensed thumping soundtrack, 22 amazing tracks set across 4 planets, a game will make any race head happy.
So final thoughts, this is a great racer for the Nintendo Switch or any system you choose to buy the game on, with plenty to dig into. I found the learning curve was just about right, and there was plenty to unlock and achieve. I am hoping that the developers keep pumping out more tracks and content over time, even allow community created tracks if the sales are there, which they should be. I can truly say this game is well worth picking up.
Edit/Update -As of today 06.11.2018 the launch of the public version of Grip: Combat Racing the game has been given a significant improvement to its GPU performance and other aspects. Even though I still enjoyed the game before the patch, I do see that the game has been improved overall and just makes the game even better.
Here’s what the patch will include:
- GPU usage optimisation delivering improved performance and frame rate (All Platforms)
- Added bonus track for launch day! Saat Coast on planet Liddo 5
- Additional languages support across all formats
- Updated scoring system for classic races in tournaments