Reviews// Race Driver: GRID

Posted 3 Jun 2008 16:26 by
Games: Racedriver: GRID
Producing racing games has to be one of the most difficult tasks in the video gaming world. The rules and customs that define car racing in the real world are well established, and tampering with them too much will merely result in derision, or the game being perceived as a novelty game (Mario Kart) or an arcade racer (Ridge Racer). Conversely adhering to them too closely will result in a game that is perceived as a sim (Forza), which will turn off a large number of players. As a result, games developers have created the genre-spanning arcade sim, which borrows enough from real world physics to offer a veneer of realism, without delving too deeply into absolute accuracy.

I often think I don't like driving games. But the many many many hours spent on Gran Turismo, Burnout, PGR and Motorstorm tell a very different story. In fact, I might be a racing game addict but not an indiscriminate one. Mario Kart is not for me, much to Tim's derision. I didn't beat him first time of playing, so I could tell I didn't like it. Sure, he'd been playing all afternoon, and it was my very first go, but that doesn't usually make a difference. Admittedly he did pwn my ass at Ridge Racer 5 until I realised that I had always played previous versions using the in-car view.

Once I changed perspective the boot changed foot, and the foot changed from the leg of a shambling lamer to an elite athlete. Weird that. I don't play any other driving game from first person perspective - maybe I should try it. But enough of my life story - this week I have mostly been playing Race Driver: GRID. It's a crap name, almost as if they were trying to follow the Colin McRae: DiRT naming convention, but forgot to actually attach a real race driver. Maybe they ran out of budget. But that's not important right now.

Indeed, Race Driver: GRID takes the approach of CodeMaster's most recent Colin McRae outing - DiRT. That is to say, it mixes things up a bit. For me, in DiRT, that was a failing. The game lacked the purity of a proper rally game, and added frippery and distraction in the form of other off-road racing genres. The buying public didn't agree with me, and DiRT was a raging success.

In GRID, this mixing of racing styles has the same effect - it wins some fans, and alienates others. For example, SPOnG's resident Codies racing game fan Andy can't get his head around the drifting sections, just as I couldn't in EA's recent racing outing, Need For Speed ProStreet (see Andy's preview of GRID over here).

It is perhaps ProStreet that GRID most closely resembles. That game failed to set anyone's world alight here in the SPOnG offices. It was a perfectly good offering, and a big hit with the buying public (or their mums and aunties) just before Christmas, but despite putting the time in, none of us came to love the game. GRID is the opposite.

Before any of us had decided to give it the time and attention we imagined it might require to hook us, we were all fighting over the joypad for just one more go.
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Games: Racedriver: GRID

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