Review: Grid Autosport (PS3)

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Title: Grid Autosport
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (7.3 GB)
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3+
Grid Autosport is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 3 Disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
At first glance, Grid Autosport looks like a mesh of the titular series with Codemasters‘ other racing sim, F1. That is true to a certain extent, but the developers have added more – even delving back into their PS1 and PS2 touring car days – in an attempt to make this a ‘one size fits all’ complete racer. However, that hasn’t quite come to fruition; the game is at times a supremely enjoyable jaunt through the entire world of racing, but a complete snore-fest at others.

Grid - A

Grid Autosport is split into five distinct disciplines; Street, Endurance, Touring, Tuner and Open Wheel. The latter is akin to F1, and as such feels comfortable and refined. It is a little more forgiving than the licensed series though, so newcomers can take to the track without feeling as daunted by the many intricacies of the sport. Street is similarly good, feeling much more like Grid 2 – this isn’t nitrous-fuelled, neon-lit mayhem like the term ‘street racing’ traditionally evokes.

The other three are more of an unknown quantity for recent fans of the series. Endurance events have been clumsily implemented. Each race is timed (for example, to eight minutes) and whichever car has travelled the furthest distance wins. Firstly, I don’t understand the need to replace your position on the HUD, with a counter for the amount of feet you’ve covered. Secondly, and more crucially for the actual need of this discipline, there are no pit-stops, rendering the entire tactical mentality of long-distance racing and tyre wear rather moot.

As already mentioned, the Touring events are a throwback to the TOCA era which Codemasters were previously famed for. They are very challenging with an unforgiving handling system that, whilst satisfying when perfected, takes substantial time to learn. Tuner is the most curious inclusion of the bunch and never quite feels like a good fit. Races are interspersed with ‘drift’ courses, which don’t offer much entertainment at all. There’s no skill to the proceedings, which last one trial too long (I’d start with quarter-finals rather than a round of 16).

Grid - B

Overall, the career mode is slightly disjointed; the separate ‘seasons’ for each event actually making for a slightly worsened single-player experience in comparison to Grid 2. The apparent choice and diversity is actually somewhat of a mask too, as you will be forced to heavily compete in every discipline (no matter how much you may hate one) in order to complete the Championship Series.

It also lacks any great ‘pull’, partly due to the short-term, mercenary style of team racing. You are hired by different teams each season, with objectives on your contract that vary in degrees of difficulty. One major plus in terms of longevity however, is the volume of circuits available to race on. The headline is 100+ tracks spanning 22 locales, which certainly makes for an experience that rarely becomes too bland or predictable.

Core gameplay sees an improvement over its predecessor, primarily by becoming slightly more ‘simulation’ than ‘arcade’. That’s not to say each corner will be a punishing test of perfect steering, but the handling model does carry a greater sense of realism. I found it to be comfortable, with no severe acclimatisation time on most disciplines.

Grid - C

Meanwhile, AI has undergone significant improvement. The mentality of computer-controlled racers changed in a believable manner depending on the event type and how the race was panning out, with no rubber banding. It means that you cannot simply concentrate on your own driving and power through on your preferred line; instead you must actively try to second guess AI moves to weave through the pack.

Visuals:
It feels as though Codemasters have already maxed out their aesthetic potential on what is now the previous console generation. In full flow, Grid Autosport looks fine and there’s very rarely a hitch, though nothing strikes as being truly special. By all accounts, the PC version is stunning, so if graphical fidelity is a key concern, you may opt for that version. On PS3, minor improvements arrive via the track surroundings, though the crowds remain unspectacular.

Menus are clean, if a little dull, whilst the HUD in-race is predictable fare. One surprising negative is the blurry mess makes up the cockpit views. Especially in response to the outrage of the fanbase following this camera angle’s omission in Grid 2, one would have thought the devs would ensure it’s perfect this time. When titles such as 2009’s Forza 3 had highly detailed interiors, this is incredibly lazy.

Grid - D

Audio:
The sounds of Grid Autosport are barely worth mentioning. Realistic engine sounds are present and the race audio and ambiance is generally very good, but this isn’t anything new for the series. Nothing is overtly annoying or broken, with the grating ‘voice in your ear’ nowhere near as prominent as in previous games. As with many aspects of Grid Autosport, it’s difficult to expect anything groundbreaking to occur in this department at this late stage of the PS3 era.

Online/Multiplayer:
Somewhat surprisingly (at least in comparison to the aforementioned recent Codemasters releases), I actually found it incredibly easy to get into online matches. Grid Autosport has a thriving online community – the majority of which seems to be German, and thus are predictably, ruthlessly excellent at the game. It runs flawlessly online, the silky smooth races often being indistinguishable from the offline offering.

RaceNet also makes a return for all your leaderboard and stat-tracking needs. Now though, it also offers club racing, meaning you can get together a clan akin to most current FPS’. Already it’s evident that this feature is flourishing with team presence being really noticeable online.

Grid - E

Conclusion:
Grid Autosport is a difficult game to judge. Timing hasn’t helped – this is a solid racing sim arriving at the end of a console’s lifespan, so it’s struggling to drain anything new from the hardware. Handling has seen a slight improvement on the previous entry in the series and the general gameplay feels smooth and refined, but any sort of ‘wow factor’ is sadly lacking. The variety of race types and the sheer quantity of locations and circuits – of course in addition to what is now a brilliantly refined racing experience – do make this worth a look, just not at full price.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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Written by Raj Mahil

Game collector. Journalism graduate. Batman addict. Movie goer. WWE nut. Sports obsessive. Arsenal fan. Squawka.com Sub-Editor.

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  • I really liked Grid. I just so wished that it was on PS4.