GRID 2019 Preview, Codemasters reboots a classic, but does it deliver or should it have been left back in 2008……..

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Event attended by Richard Winstone

So as a long term racing game fan I remember playing the first GRID, also Outrun, the original Grand Turismo, and in more recent years although I do still play them my love for the genre has faded somewhat.

The arcade games although fun lack the challenge and the simulators are now so hardcore, with titles like GTSport requiring you to remove all assist and spend hours learning the perfect line to get into the S class of racers. Add this to the skill-based matchmaking ensuring every online match is a complete sweat fest regardless of your skill level.

Now the Original GRID filled a gap in the market, assist good enough to help even the most inexperienced racer’s and not a full-on simulator adding an element of fun for the most hardcore of drivers, now personally I think it lost its way, particularly when we got to Grid Autosport in 2014, the practice, the qualifying then the race, a single championship would take your 5-10 hours, it became a sim and faded into the background, a sad time seeing a game series I truly enjoyed coming to an end…

So when Codemasters announced that GRID was getting a reboot, excitement, hesitation a lot of mixed emotions. I couldn’t stand the thought of another Autosport but wondered if GRID had a place in modern gaming.

Then I get the news, I’m going to Codemasters HQ to get a hands-on with a preview of GRID! I had so many questions the hype over the last month being pretty positive and we get the next bit of news, unrestricted access to the game, nothing was off-limits (besides multiplayer that is).

Arriving at the Grid Preview Event
Outside Codemasters HQ

I jump into career mode I see a wide array of championships from Historic Touring cars, Stock Cars, GT Cars, and hand full of open-wheelers. There is a real nice mix.

I pick Brands Hatch as a race in the GT Cup, I see my grid position and simply asked do I want to race, practice or do a qualifying hot lap, time-limited so we race no fuss, but I have the option, its nice to see I can make it a sim or pick up and play as I like. And halfways through a championship if I want to hurt the tenths of a second I can if I want to which is the critical part.

So in typical fashion I miss judge the first corner and slam into the side of 3 other cars as I hurtle up the inside, no flag no penalties and it pops up with a nemesis notice, all of a sudden Khan Hassan an AI driver has the serious hump with me. Not afraid to upset me he’s diving up the inside, happily trading paint get in front of me his tag is now Red, he takes a super defensive line cutting me up allowing two others to drive around the outside his focus is purely on staying in front of me.

Grid Preview event set up

This just made me think of how racing really is, the human element missing from modern racing games, people will get annoyed and will do what they can just to beat you the AI is next level. I discovered also that not all AI act the same Chris Wilkes took a lot of shunts and sideswipes to annoy to the point where he would turn nemesis on me again adding to the realism of the world of motorsport.

As I continued to play some more real-world motorsport action appeared, cars spinning (sometimes even full-on flips and rolls) mechanical failures with cars struggling on the straight to wheels popping off) the Devs confirmed this was only for AI car and I get the principle, stuff happens its what makes ​motorsport so dam exciting to watch and a whole lot more fun to play.

I haven’t anticipated a racing game in years as much as I am anticipating GRID, it is motorsport not just another pass the car in front simulator. It has the “rubbing is Racing” philosophy, it has a personality to the AI behind the wheel and most importantly it has Ravenwest back as the team to beat.

Hive with Grid Lead Designer Chris Smith

OK, so, it’s the choice. The option to actually play it how you want to that makes GRID such a compelling game, I had to mention Ravenwest for nostalgic reasons and a clear nod to fans of the original.

Unfortunately, I was flying solo today so no video interview with the Lead Developer Chris Smith… But it is ok I got ya back people I recorded the conversation and will be releasing it once I have got around to typing it up, great guy, very much a talker so it might take a while. Until next time…………

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