Race Driver: GRID (Codemasters, 2008)

A while ago we speculated on what Codemasters? 2009 F1 game will be like. That article has been one of the most popular on this site in the past few days and has loads of comments with people sharing their ideas for what should be in the game.

It?s clear there?s a lot of interest in how Codemasters are going to treat the Formula 1 brand when they release their game next year.

To get an idea of what it might be like, I played their most recent title, Race Driver: GRID.

OK let?s get one thing out of the way to begin with ?ǣ Race Driver: GRID is an arcade-style racer but Codemasters have admitted their F1 game will have both simulator and arcade modes.

That makes sense because although a basic arcade pick-up-and play racer like GRID is fine for casual followers of the sport, more dedicated F1 fans will want a full-on, ultra-realistic driving experience.

I tested out the Xbox 360 version of GRID although, as the 2009 F1 game will be, it is multi-format and is available on PS3 and PC DVD.

GRID is a real mixed bag offering an enormous breath of racing modes: Touring Cars, Formula Three, plus more exotic varieties like drift racing.

In the early stages of the game the sheer number of different racing series available gets a bit bewildering. Especially as, in each race, you?re dumped into the car for two or three laps without any practice.

None of this would be a problem if the driving dynamics weren?t so iffy. Back at the start of this series of games the two original TOCA titles (based on the British Touring Car Championships) had driving models that were accessible but offered a decent challenge and, above all, allowed you to get stuck into wheel-banging racing without worrying about spinning off on every lap.

I don?t think Race Driver: GRID strikes that balance as well ?ǣ in fact I don?t think any of the Race Driver games have. Unless you use the difficulty settings to neuter the challenge of driving entirely the unpredictable handling will have you spearing off on every lap.

This really gets in the way of enjoying what?s good about the game. I can?t think of many other titles where you can drive a Formula Three car around Spa-Francorchamps.

The graphics are excellent and the track configurations are bang up to date (we can?t blame Codemasters for the uglification job Hermann Tilke did on Spa) although I thought a lot of the gradient on the tracks had been scaled down ?ǣ Eau Rouge didn?t look half as steep as it is in real life. Oh, and the fictitious circuits are rubbish.

If you can persevere with the control system the game gets a lot more rewarding as you unlock new racing modes and cars. I liked the fact that your team chief communicates with you by radio during the races and you can even pick a name for him to use ?ǣ unfortunately ??Keith? wasn?t an option for I plumped for ??Mongoose?.

GRID is not going to satisfy an appetite for a vivid, realistic racing experience ?ǣ and it?s no rival to Gran Turismo 5 or Forza Motorsport 2. But for a quick blast of racing fun, with more racing series on offer than you?d find in a copy of Autosport, it has a lot to commend it.

F1 Fanatic rating

More on Codemasters’ 2009 F1 game

Buy Race Driver: GRID for the Xbox 360
Buy Race Driver: GRID for the PS3
Buy Race Driver: GRID for PC DVD
Buy Race Driver: GRID for the Nintendo DS

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19 comments on Race Driver: GRID (Codemasters, 2008)

  1. Twister27 said on 7th August 2008, 8:30

    I assume people are aware of RACE Pro coming to the 360 this year, its being produced by Simbin who are known for producing PC sims. This is the only link I can find at the moment – http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=178188

    I know its not F1 but it will cover multiple series and have almost 50 real tracks, and is likely to cater for the sim fans out there. GRID is just awful.

    I’m hoping it’ll be up there with Forza 2 as that is currently the king of console ‘sims’. Obviously nothing can compete the excellence that was/is Grand Prix Legends!

  2. Jonesracing82 said on 7th August 2008, 8:49

    sadly i just dont see how codemasters are going to give us a game thats realistic enuff!
    not in the way the “grand prix” series keeps u playing!
    all code games r too arcadey, which is good for the casual player but serious F1 fans have been screaming for a decent f1 game for years and i’d like to think i am wrong when i saw i doubt we’ll get one.
    the “arcade modes’ is what i am worried about!

  3. ajokay said on 7th August 2008, 9:09

    I downloaded the demo of GRID on my 360, and was hoping for a lot more, seeing as the previous TOCA and Race Driver (and Colin McRae) games had all been top-notch, but I was very disappointed with this game, espicially as a big fan of Forza Motorsport 2 (which is ruddy brilliant, espicially being able to make completely custom racing liveries for your cars).

    I had a 3-lap bash around… Jarama, I think, in a BMW touring car. It was like driving a shopping trolly, albeit with plenty of chassis roll. I just could not get into it. What makes it worse is the camera sways around behind the car like it doesn’t care that you always wish to be looking forward, down the track. I left it at that, as I have no interest in drifting round Tokyo in a 4,000 bhp supra, or lolling around an american street circuit in a muscle car.

    All of this is a great shame because the graphics are wonderful, the smoke and dust effects are really well done, and the damage modelling almost makes you want to cause a multi-car pile-up.

    As far as general motorsport games go, I can’t wait for Forza Motorsport 3 some time late next year, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Codies do with the F1 franchise. Hopefully they’ll make the best F1 console game since Formula 1 ’97 on the PlayStation.

  4. Architrion said on 7th August 2008, 9:15

    Keith, you should try some races in PC’s rFactor or, even better IMHO, GTR2 by SimBin. They are great, realistic and funny. I’m really in love with GTR2. Driving a DB9 through the Nordschleife is an exciting way of having fun. The community has made and keeps making quality mods that makes these games lives on and on. What I don’t like about these games is that the IA is not as tuned as you would expect, always keeping a predesigned race line, braking at the same point, crashing on your back (on Hami style). But on a real multiplayer race you don’t have that kind of problems :-))

  5. diseased rat said on 7th August 2008, 9:23

    GRID is an arcade game and should very much be treated as such. The driving model is not even remotely realistic and is just simple and fun. Some people find it really annoying it is so unrealistic, personally I really enjoyed the game but if I want to drive simulation style I fire up Gran Turismo Prologue on professional mode.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th August 2008, 9:32

    Architron – yeah I’m a big fan of GTR2 and rFactor (a href=”/2007/06/17/rfactor-image-space-incorporated-2006/”>rFactor review here).

  7. chaostheory said on 7th August 2008, 9:37

    of yes, Codemasters should take a good look at GTR2 and how its dealing with realism; i think thay could learn a lot from Simbin in that matter; but i’m sceptic about that F1 game mainly because it’ll be multiplatform with x360 and ps3 as main targets (you know – more money there than on PC, and F1 lincence must have cost them a lot so they will want some of those money back). And to make this game attractive to console gamers thay need to make it more arcade than simulation. Thay knew it and did it with Grid…

  8. diseased rat said on 7th August 2008, 9:43

    Yeah I agree, I think they are going to go the same route that they went with the F3 and F3000 cars in GRID. Racing F3 online around Donnington is awesome fun but is in no way a realistic simulation of open wheel racing. For mass appeal they will probably stick to that forumla. What I am hoping is that they will include a “simulation” mode for us more hardcore fans.

  9. ajokay said on 7th August 2008, 12:40

    Formula 1 and Formula 1 ’97 on the PlayStation both had the choice of Arcade and Simulation modes, the others that followed probably did too, I’m guessing. It was the first option the game gave you when you loaded it up, like having two games on one disc, so thats all Codies have to recreate.

    The arcade mode on F1 ’97 ranked each car in terms of speed, handling, etc, with the slower cars generally having better handling, and vice versa. The Benetton was the half-way house in that game, fairly equal stats.

    The one thing that does worry me is that Race Driver 3, if anyone had played that game, has a top-tier championship of BMW Williams F1 cars. it was the final formula at the top of the open-wheel single seater tree.

    Those BMW Williams’ handled awfully, any acceleration whatsoever resulted in an uncontrollable spin, the tiniest nudge of contact either put you to the back of the field or out of the race, or both.

    So here’s hoping they don’t port those cars over to this game, which i’m sure they won’t, with their new game and physics engines, n’all.

  10. cyanide said on 7th August 2008, 14:48

    Echoing what Twister27 said. The game is rubbish even by arcadey standards. I’m not going to place any hope in Codemasters releasing anything near an enjoyable experience. I’m going to buy a Logitech G25 soon and will be building my own sim-racing setup in my room with a bunch of metal tubing, some welding, a 26″ lcd and my PC which runs rFactor on full settings. Now THAT is sim-racing heaven :)

  11. Keith and Architrion
    I can’t agree more on GTR2 what a breath of fresh air it has been (I was slow to the game and got it fairly recently). I still can’t really abide by locking out any tracks or cars prior to achievement on a game (hint game designers, if I bought the game, I want to be able to drive ALL the CARS and ALL the Tracks, otherwise, I’d just buy half the CD!)

    Nitpicking aside (and yes, I need to get off my butt and get Rfactor for the track editing alone).

    I sincerely hope that codemasters does this title justice, as Keith noted earlier last month about the overall suggestions for their game, in game coaching, and true setup hints/help are going to be the biggest assistance to players. Also, here’s hoping they’ve got a proper drivers view (Race 07′ I’m looking at you). In Race 07′ you actually look out through a helmet (yes, I know, I sit at home and wear the helmet while playing, but I’m weird and just love the smell of Nomex) and can even yank tear offs (should I not be giggling when I do that?)

    That is an appropriate level of realism. Also, can someone possibly make a better interface for the force feedback systems so that we can properly feel the forces that aren’t just a dumb slider bar for “more force”. I want to be able to adjust “grip/slide” to feel the tires, “soft/hard” to feel the suspension, braking to feel the stopping power, and dive to feel the aero, (dive also should be factored into the graphics somehow too!) Just squatting a helmet down in an open cockpit car (and maybe dipping the head down a bit if there’s a lip spoiler on a helmet would do wonders to let me know that there’s actually downforce being created, and that maybe I can creep around 180r at more than 160mph at suzuka. Imparting additional feel (and not needlessly playing up the “realism” of sticker placement in the paddock) is where the focus should be. Some of us actually use these games to learn (how to prep for the 24 hours of lemons).
    Finally, can somone please do something about getting us some older F1 cars and hilarity with Fan cars and the like? Who wouldn’t want to drive a proper Tyrrell 6 wheeler? Maybe a shark fin anyone? The crazy practice front wing from Arrows from a few years back (just to look out that thing at Monaco would be hysterical!)

    Keep up the great work Keith!

  12. I own several racing games that I still consider relivant and current. Forza 2, GT5:P, GTR2, DiRT, GRID etc etc.

    GRID in no way should be compared to games like Forza 2, GT5:P, or GTR2. They are meant to be simulators (although I don’t like GT5:P much personally). GRID is meant to be an arcade game, and plays as such. I really enjoy it, and play it a lot. I have always enjoyed Codemasters racing games, and am looking forward to their F1 game next year. It could be made even more fun by following their current trend of including multiple championships. They could have GP2, Formula Renult, etc etc so in single player campaign you can work your way up to Formula One. Can’t wait!

  13. Trig said on 7th August 2008, 23:39

    Hi folks,

    Kia Ora from New Zealand.

    I’m a Grand Prix 4 fan, but hunger for something new that I can update with the latest F1 cars, tracks etc.
    rFactor seems very popular, and can be updated, but the open wheeler in the game (F3000? I can’t recall) felt all wrong to me. This was with the raw game – no mods – may have even been a demo?

    I guess I’m asking fellow F1 Fanatics their thoughts on rFactor Vs GP4. Are there mods to rFactor that modify the ‘feel’ of the car? – it’s not a setup issue, it just felt all wrong somehow…
    I’m a regular visitor to this site and value all your knowledgable opinions.

    In short, should I spend the time and money upgrading from GP4 to rFactor?

  14. Trig said on 7th August 2008, 23:44

    Hmm… Keith, I just remembered your (broken) link to the rFactor review above. I probably should’ve read that before I posted. I am shamed.

  15. Twister27 said on 8th August 2008, 8:32

    “although I don’t like GT5:P much personally” SkinBintin i’m with you on that one.

    I’ve always been a bit of a Codemasters fan, Race Driver 3 was just on the edge but GRID is a step in the wrong direction for me personally.

    Forza 2 will have to suffice until something better comes along, Forza 3 or RACE Pro?

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