I’m old enough to remember when GRID was still TOCA Touring on the PS1, long before Codemasters rebooted the series into the GRID we all (well, us racing fans at least) know and love today. For almost as long as I’ve been able to hold a controller properly, Codemasters’ series has been out and about in one form or another, and I’ve played them all, the most recent being GRID Autosport on Nintendo Switch.
The GRID series has been on hiatus since GRID Autosport on PS3 and Xbox 360, and most recently, Nintendo Switch. It’s a shame that Autosport never saw a release on PS4, but I think this new entry attempts to right that wrong, kind of like a greatest hits album of sorts.
To overuse a popular expression, GRID takes the racing series back to its roots. It’s a pure racer through and through. There are no bells, no fanciful whistles, just racing. It’s simple, clean and uncluttered. Simple, even. But I like simple, so that’s not a bad thing in the least.
The game’s main meat comes from the campaign which is split across several disciplines which you can tackle at your own pace. If you don’t like, say, Street Racing, you can leave it alone and just do what takes your fancy. This is where GRID shines. Where other racers force you into events you may not enjoy all that much, GRID has the flexibility to leave the career path down to the player. You may have to take on a couple that you’re not keen on, mind you, if you want to get into the end-game invitational series, but for the most part, you’re unrestricted. Personally, I’m not so keen on the Stock racing, and so I managed to leave that well alone and progress in my own way.
A new addition to GRID is the nemesis system. No, you won’t be hunting down cars driven by stinky Orc generals. If you’re an aggressive driver with little consideration for your fellow racers, you’ll no doubt find yourself smashing into a few cars in the race for the podium. Smash into the same driver a few too many times and you’ll make an enemy out of them and they’ll start gunning for you, driving harder to take you down a peg. It’s a nice feature and it made some races a lot more interesting.
While enemies can be made, so can friends. Kind of. You can take on partners who will race on your team. The quality of these teammates vary wildly. Some will be great racers who respond to your commands (push, defend, hold) and others will be, I assume, deaf and blind. I’ve seen some of my teammates spin out mid-race and cause a pile-up on a tight city corner. I’ve also seen the non-teammate A.I do similar, so at least it’s not just my racers who are occasionally drink-driving.
GRID isn’t an easy game, at least I don’t think so. I’ve struggled to win on the normal difficulty, often finding myself finishing in the middle of the pack. Ordinarily, that’d be a bummer and I’d restart the race halfway through. Not in GRID. The nemesis system meant I’d often be engaged in my own personal race against the dude I slammed into on the previous lap. But yeah, I had to redo a lot of races and, as the internet says “git gud”. I’m good now. Or at least acceptable. Not good enough for online though…
My regular go-to racing game of late has been Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One X, and I think I’ve been a little spoiled by that game’s generous handling. GRID isn’t a full-on sim, nor is it an arcade racer. It flirts a middle-ground between the two with cars handling heavy. Braking requires a little nuance, apexing is crucial and overcorrecting can result in you spinning out and watching as the competition whips past you. It’s a nice change from what I’m used to, mind, but it did take some time adjusting to GRID’s handling system.
I’ve spent a bit of time with the game’s multiplayer, mostly playing with a couple of mates who are far more in-tune with racing games than I am. I lost. Dreadfully. But the multiplayer suite is robust and there if you want it. For me, it’s not a big deal. The single-player content is more than enough, and the chase for the perfect race is always going to be there.
One criticism I’ve heard is that there aren’t as many cars or tracks as previous GRID games. While that may be true, I don’t completely agree with it. Sure, more is always nice to have, but in any given racer I typically find a handful of cars that I’m comfortable with and then stick with them. Forza Horizon 4 has hundreds of cars, yet I’ve only ever driven, at most, a dozen of them. I just don’t see the point in having hundreds of vehicles when there aren’t enough hours in the day to master them.
Tracks, on the other hand, I do agree with. At first, the variety seems good but once you start dipping into the other disciplines you’ll notice you’re visiting the same locales and tracks again and again. On the one hand, this isn’t great. More tracks are always welcome. On the other, I appreciate having a more condensed, focused set of routes that I can (half) memorise and race with a bit of confidence.
I played GRID exclusively on PS4 Pro, which means I had the benefit of extra resolution and framerate. Framerate is kind when it comes to racers. For a more responsive game, a higher framerate is preferred. The Pro runs the game at 60 frames-per-second, while the regular PS4 runs at 30. I can’t speak for how the game runs on the regular console, but on the Pro, it’s brilliant and very responsive, and all while keeping the game’s graphics in-tact, too. There are the occasional drops, such as when a lot is going on on-screen, coupled with the game’s weather effects, the framerate can drop a little. It’s not terrible and I never felt I lost a race because of it.
There’s plenty to do in GRID. You’ve got a single-player campaign that can be tackled in any way you please. There are cars to collect, customise and tune. There’s also the game’s multiplayer mode which I’m guessing will be the mainstay for a lot of the competitive players out there. For me, I’ll stick to my single-player modes while shouting obscenities at my obviously drunk teammate.
GRID PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
GRID is a fantastic racer that puts you in charge. Don’t want to race supercars? Don’t. Want to avoid the single-player and stick to multiplayer? Do it.
It’s a streamlined racer without the superfluous fluff that modern racers have introduced. Could it do with a few more cars and tracks? Probably, but there’s enough here that you won’t feel hard done by.
- Accessible handling – not quite sim, not quite arcade.
- 60 frames-per-second on the Pro feels great and makes for a responsive experience
- Career progression is player-determined
- Graphics are great – especially cockpit view!
- Top-tier audio work, but play with a decent pair of headphones for the best experience
- Could do with a few more tracks
- Non-PS4 Pro players may feel hard done by with the 30FPS cap
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.