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Review: Race Driver: GRID
by Lewis O'Brien
Racing and Sports aren’t normally a genre I play and I’ll usually leave the reviews to one of the other crew members; but one of my favourite games, back when I owned a PS1, was Toca 2, so I decided to give GRID a test drive due to Codemaster’s excellent heritage.

I found creating a career difficult, not because the menus are particularly hard to navigate, but the instructions on screen are in a tiny font along with the fact that I only have a small TV in my room anyway, meant that I found myself tearing the house apart looking for my glasses. Not a good first impression for the game, and something that shouldn’t be a problem.

After finding my glasses, I finished the basic career creator (first and second name, nationality etc.). The feature you get to use next is a nice addition and one I would expect they would have bragged about a bit more. Audio Name. You’re given a huge list of names to choose to be called. These nicknames are hereafter muttered by other characters. This is a nifty little feature that has appeared in very few games in the past; it makes it much more personal and you would be surprised how much of a difference it makes while playing.

Once you’ve got a grasp of control, you can appreciate the graphics and detail in crashes. Who knew crashing your new £150k Mustang into a wall could look so beautiful? Don’t get me wrong, it’s still nothing in comparison to the likes of Burnout but it’s still impressive.

The game play is similar to many other racing games but can still take a while to get used to if you haven’t had a real session on a racing game for a long time. Codemasters have introduced a new feature that makes long races a lot less frustrating. Being able to restart a three lapped race isn’t too bad even if you were on the last lap when you made a mistake. But what about when you’re half way through one of the many different long race types (including straight race and drifting) and you crash? Well in GRID you can now use Flashback; just hit pause, rewind it to before the crash and start from there. You get a limited number of Flashbacks which increase in number as you decrease the difficulty or, if you feel this is cheating like some gamers inevitably will, you can turn it off completely by activating Pro Racer mode at the start of every race. This option lowers the frustration level found in other racing games, which should be a priority for other game developers.

After racing as a freelance driver for other racing teams you start your own team and hire a team-mate with his own discipline speciality. This part of the game feels incomplete; you can’t do anything except hire and fire your team-mate, also when you’re racing, the lack of control over what your team-mate does is frustrating. Especially if you have a team-mate who out ranks you and is winning a race in his favourite disciplines and you need the win; you can’t tell them to get out of the way or go aggressive or defensive like in racing games like the Juiced series.

The use of uncommon features like the Audio Name and Flashback make this game very impressive but its minor flaws leave a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth. Still, if you want adrenaline filled racing action with great graphics and an easy learning curve, you could do much worse than Race Driver: GRID.



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- Lewis O'Brien

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