Race Driver: GRID (Codemasters, 2008)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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