Some of my favourite games as a child were based around vehicular combat. Vigilante 8 was my go-to game when I had friends over. As a boy, it doesn’t get much better, does it? How can you beat fast cars with rocket launchers and machine guns? It’s the pinnacle of gaming when you’re 10-years old.
GRIP Combat Racing hopes to emulate the games of the golden years, and it doesn’t do a terribly bad job of it. In fact, it does it pretty darn well. Combining slick racing with deadly force is a combination that just can’t fail. Mostly.
GRIP is a racing game, first and foremost, but with the added twist that you can kill your fellow drivers – and they can kill you. You’ve also got another twist in that your vehicle can flip over and still be driveable. Kind of like those remote-controlled cars you’d see every Saturday morning on the TV adverts. The kind of car that can go over any terrain because it doesn’t turn into a turtle when it’s flipped.
It’s not just a one-off gimmick, though, as understanding the mechanics is essential to being successful. You can hit the regular routes and race like a regular chump, or you can aim for the ramps and ride along the walls, ceilings – whatever. It’s called GRIP for a reason. It can get a little wild, mind you, as ramps lead to spiralling roads and upside down corkscrews, back to jumps and all the rest of it. It’s action heavy and not something you’ll find in your everyday racer.
The combat aspect is very well done, too. Much like just about every other combat racing game on the market, you’ve got numerous powerups at your disposal. Naturally, you pick these up be driving through them. Hey, no need to reinvent the wheel.
You’ve got a selection of offensive and defensive pickups that can be used to hinder your opponents, or defend yourself from their attacks. You can hold two powers at one time, but you can also use one to give the other a boost. So you could sacrifice your shield to enhance your missiles, or vice versa. It makes you think, and during the heat of a race when you’re belting along the ceilings and banging off the walls, it’s not easy to think. And I liked that, even if I didn’t really like the offensive combat.
To be fair, I actually really liked how the defensive powerups worked, but for the life of me I just couldn’t click with the attacking options, but after having seen others play online I have determined that I am just shit. Still, it didn’t stop me from taking part in numerous arena battles online, though I didn’t win, I still had a good time. The thrill of the chase can be more rewarding than winning. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
Online is a big part of GRIP, but you’re quite free to play by yourself if you’re not feeling the multiplayer. There’s a lengthy campaign to play through with more than enough unlockables to keep you busy from now until Christmas. And then once Christmas rolls around and you’ve got annoying kids from the other side of the family cramping your style, you can go head-to-head in four-player splitscreen and show them who is the boss. Unfortunately I’ve not really had the opportunity to try out the splitscreen to its fullest, but from what I’ve played it seems perfectly fine. The frame rate maintains a steady refresh, the controls remain responsive, and it still looks damn good in action.
For those wanting the longevity that games are now expected to provide, the online suite is expansive and, at first, a little daunting. There’s plenty to see and do, though I imagine it would be best enjoyed with a group of online friends in a custom competition. Again, I’ve not really had the chance to fully explore the multiplayer side of things, but the combat arena is a definite highlight and something I can see myself dipping into a lot due to its simple premise: run, don’t die, kill. I just run. Like I said, it’s the thrill of the chase!
Combat (and kart) racers are making something of a comeback, but GRIP stands out as a truly worthwhile effort. It’s got it all: lots of cars, sweet graphics, numerous unlocks and customisation options, as well as splitscreen multiplayer and online play, too.
GRIP Combat Racing PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.0/10
GRIP Combat Racing is a splendid little game that does almost everything right. There’s a sizeable single-player portion that’ll keep loners busy for a long time, and then there’s the online to further the fun. My recommendation is to get on the combat arena mode with a few mates and duke it out.
It’s a well-realised release that does lend heavily from others, but there’s enough originality here and it still feels fresh in this day and age.
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.
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Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)