Grid Autosport: The Future of Interactive Racing?

GRID has always been a series that has interested me. Despite the stiffer learning curve over games like Need for Speed, GRID series has maintained a good balance between arcade action and driving simulation rigorousness. GRID Autosport  for PC, PS3, and the XBOX 360, is shaping up to be a well crafted driving game, but the real question will be if it can compete with the next generation lineup of driving games already on consoles.

On the PC, GRID does not look like a game built for the last generation of consoles. Lighting, reflections and shadows all build an immersive experience. Beyond this, Codemasters have not only modeled the dashboard on every car, but have implemented a visual blurring of the console as you race faster. In practice this felt fantastic, I felt drawn in and enjoyed the subtle touches that gave the illusion of speed. The team from Codemasters also went into great detail that although they will not have as many cars or tracks as other games out in the market, everything they do have will feel complete and enjoyable to experience.

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Jumping over to the console versions of the game, they are boasting that GRID will look similar to the PC version but it will be locked at 30FPS. Not ideal for people that love the feeling of speed and fluid motion that 60FPS can offer, but to see graphics of this quality on the last generation was astounding. There will be no PS4, or XBOX One version of this title, and that feels like an odd choice. Even just offering a current gen version at 60fps would be enough, especially in the game drought that is now present on these systems.

But what really matters in any driving game is the feel of the cars and the overall driving experience. This is where Codemasters really have a handle on the genre. Building the Formula-1 games, GRID and Dirt, they know what they are doing when it comes to car games. The ability to toggle on or off as many assists as personal preference dictates worked out well. Taking control of an open wheel car and racing at ludicrous speed felt fluid and smooth. The change in driving style from one car to another also shows a meticulous attention to detail. The different modes felt very different, each showing off the abilities and weaknesses of each car.

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The team is also promising an in depth career mode, taking the player from the low level teams and slowly building up reputation as they push their cars to the limit. Cars will carry though as they go from race to race, so they have built in ways for you to upgrade your cars, repair them or just sell them for new ones. It will be a balancing act to keep your best car and not have the repair costs from an older model hurt your bank account. Overall this sounds similar to what other driving games have done in the past, but it is hard to say without proper testing.

Beyond the modes, Codemasters promise a robust online experience with the help of their online portal, Racenet. They are saying this will allow you to see real time stats of players in the world of GRID Autosport.  Beyond this, it can allow players to great online racing groups and clans right from the interface. If this all works as planned it could be a great way to link players and make the experience of the racing game a more open experience.

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Most impressive of all was the fact GRID has been optimized to run on integrated graphics. A member from the Codemasters team let me play around with the Windows X86 tablet version of the game. Although it was not running at the framerate they were planning for final release, it was very playable and looked good to say the least. They even managed to build in tilt controls, although for true fans of the series a racing wheel and gaming rig will still be the way to play.

Codemasters never disappoint in the driving space, and I am pleased to say from what I have seen, GRID Autosport is looking to follow this trend. This is a racing and car lovers game, built to really show off the sense of speed and motion. The fact Codemasters managed to push the last generation to this limit is astounding. That all said, final judgement will have to wait until it is released on June 24th.