Codemasters’ Grid series of racing games gets its first new entry in five years with the release of Grid this Friday for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. I memorized all four pages of the press release Codemasters sent me, then I also memorized the list of games on Codemasters’ Wikipedia page. I then tried to recite every detail while still placing first in several circuits. How did I do? Well, I captured it all on video, so find out the “badly” for yourself.
Much like the Fast and Furious series, Grid eschews scrutable taxonomy: the series consists, to date, of 2008’s Race Driver: Grid, 2013’s Grid 2, and 2014’s Grid Autosport. 2019’s Grid is thus the first game where the four-letter word stands for itself.
Grid is as no-nonsense as its name. When you enter career mode, a full-screen spreadsheet of race events greets you. Complete one and earn a check. Place first and earn a gold trophy. Play through events again for pleasure, in-game money, and experience points. Use money to buy new cars. Use experience points to level up, unlocking new cosmetic items.
Meanwhile, the racing game inside this refreshingly honest shell is as visually and technically impressive as any I’ve seen. It’s got 16-player online. It’s got team tactics. It’s got a cute little “Nemesis” system in single-player career mode (in summary: the AI drivers get mad at you if you hit them too many times, at which point they decide this game is actually Mario Kart).
It runs in a brilliant native 4K at 60 frames per second on the Xbox One X. All 13 of the tracks look wonderful.
Grid’s frictionless user experience, delightful graphics, and robust racing mechanics put it into the curious position of “game that I’ll probably play for 50 hours before the end of the year despite having several games I’m more excited about.”
Grid isn’t as feature-rich as Forza Horizon 4. It isn’t as serious as Gran Turismo. It isn’t as party-friendly as Mario Kart. Rather, it fills that surprisingly vacant void once occupied by singleplayer late-night zone-out racing games like Ridge Racer and Project Gotham Racing. It’s simulatory enough for me to put gear shift on my Xbox One Elite Controller’s back paddles, though it’s fun enough for me to turn my brain off completely. It’s also technically a dog toy, because my dog stared at the screen for two straight hours the other night while I drove.
Yes, I got a dog last week. Please expect more dog-related video game criticism metrics in the near future.
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