GRID: Autosport Review

Richard Walker

Despite what GRID: Race Driver purists might have thought, we actually really liked GRID 2 a lot. Where the original game was challenging, yet fun, GRID 2 walked a fine line between knockabout arcade handling and simulation, making it accessible but not too accessible. Lambasted by some for not including a cockpit camera, the second GRID's development rolled straight into GRID Autosport, seemingly as Codemaster's rapid response to the criticisms levelled at the previous game. GRID Autosport is therefore a return to the sensibilities of the original game, but it's one that seems to be lacking a certain something.

Dispensing with GRID 2's largely superfluous narrative frills, GRID Autosport goes back to focusing purely on the racing, with five distinct disciplines to choose from. Presentation has been pared down to a list of race events to choose from for each season, and you're free to choose whether to race Touring Cars, Endurance Events, Open Wheel, Tuner Class or Street Races in whatever order you see fit. There's no garage interior to admire at the front end, no visual flourishes to enjoy; it's just you and the events set before you, offered up by your sponsors. Sign a contract, and you're on your merry way to racing nirvana.


Touring Cars hunt in packs. Prepare to be jostled off the track.

That's assuming that your idea of racing nirvana is uncompromising and aggressive rival AI, and handling that in moving back towards the more realistic end of the spectrum, demands a far greater level of concentration and focus. Like the first GRID, podium placements are hard-fought and scraped out as you endlessly jostle for position from the second the green lights illuminate to the moment the chequered flag waves.

If you're anything like us, you'll have to settle for 9th, 6th and maybe (if you're lucky) 5th or 3rd place finishes in what can prove a miserable first season, but come the second, third and fourth seasons, it'll all eventually click and you might even start to win. Not without using up more than a few flashbacks, of course.

However, by the time you've had a few goes around with each of the racing disciplines on offer, only the real purists will be likely to persevere and press on to the bitter end. There's a surfeit of content in GRID Autosport, from the array of cars on offer, to the 100-odd routes spread across 22 tracks. Codemasters has genuinely outdone itself in appeasing hardened race fans; the very same petrolheads who'll also no doubt rejoice at the return of the cockpit cam. For the casual racer, GRID Autosport is harder to get into than the previous two games. Its relatively dry and workmanlike approach, accompanied by early noughties garage music that sounds like it came from Craig David's cutting room floor, will probably do nothing to make you want to tolerate grinding out 10 long levels of racing in each of the five disciplines.


Open wheel: not as challenging as F1, but still tough.

Then there's the tiresome matter of qualifying for each race, which the majority of players will probably want to skip. In doing so, you'll start near the back of the grid, making the battle through the pack to a respectable position all the more difficult and potentially infuriating.

You can call upon your teammate for help, using the bumpers to scroll through various instructions, from scrolling left for defensive driving to hitting the right bumper to command your teammate to push or attack. We're fairly certain that this isn't the way it works in real-life racing (we're pretty sure Lewis Hamilton doesn't bark orders at Nico Rosberg via the paddock crew, for instance), but what the hell; it adds a welcome bit of strategy to races.

As such, there's absolutely nothing fundamentally wrong with the core racing experience itself, and indeed, the handling model is mostly sublime, but in going back to basics, GRID Autosport loses much of its fun factor. Sometimes we found ourselves intentionally just smashing up our car because it was more interesting than carrying on with yet another failed race. And partly because the damage modelling is superb. But mostly the first thing. Perhaps this has less to do with any shortcomings on Autosport's part and more to do with holding our attention span in a racing game that demands nigh-on perfection in order to yield any sort of meaningful results from its events. Or maybe it's a little from column A and a little from column B.

Whatever the case, GRID Autosport does well to bring back Touring Cars. It's by far the game's most enjoyable and engaging race type. Where Street Races sometimes feel too tight and confined, Open Wheel can be too punishingly slippy, Drift is too dull and Endurance makes us want to snooze (tyre wear? Yuck), Touring Cars allows you to really mix things up by getting into the thick of pack racing. Again, it makes us long for the return of the TOCA series, but then we seem to recall that was hard as nails too. Career is structured in such a way that you could conceivably just race your favourite discipline (or disciplines) to level 10 and then wing the disc into a lake, but then there's the online offering to consider, which is massive.

Taking GRID Autosport online for a spot of competitive racing is pretty damn deep and involving, as you start with a single car, and earn cash through your online performances to purchase different and hopefully better cars to stow in an empty slot in your garage. As you race, you'll develop a bond with your cars, as you acquire them new or used using your hard-earned funds, tuning them and slapping lovely liveries on them to make each car your own. And there's more than enough online activity to be getting involved in too, with all of the race events you'd expect alongside Party Play, in which you can enjoy some Demolition Derby fun with friends or random rivals. You can also add AI racers to each event, if there aren't enough competitors on the grid, which is a nice touch. There's a disproportionate number of online achievements though, which is indicative of just how big Autosport's online offering is.


We're still fond of street racing, even if no-one else is.

As for achievements, well, we did such an amazing job on GRID 2's list, nothing was ever going to live up to that. While we are of course kidding, GRID Autosport's achievement list is a little to by-the-numbers dull for our liking. You have to race a season in each discipline, level them all up to the maximum (that alone will take forever), complete this task, do that thing. It's rather dull, in all honesty lacking anything in the way of invention. Completing a split-screen race does carry the title 'Sofa, So Good', which automatically gives Codies' some extra pun points. Kudos. Otherwise, it's a pants achievement list.

GRID Autosport is essentially the answer to what the die-hard Race Driver: GRID fans wanted. Cockpit cam is back, it's more challenging than GRID 2, it still looks rather pretty, there's loads of different race types and the online component is more than ample. All in all, it's a racing fan's dream, albeit one that doesn't feel like any sort of a significant step forward for the series. If anything, it's Codemasters moving back to what it did with the first GRID, stripping out any of the extraneous bells and whistles you'd expect to find in its other racing games. If what you're looking for is a racing title that says 'never mind the bollocks, here's the racing', then GRID Autosport is the game for you.

GRID: Autosport

Another great instalment in the GRID series, GRID Autosport puts right all of the perceived things that were wrong with GRID 2. There's no more narrative stuff to get caught up in, no pretty front end menus to ogle; it's just you, the cars and the race track. If that sounds good to you, then GRID Autosport is your game. Go race.

Form widget
80%
Audio
70%

GRID Autosport's cars sound realistic enough, growling and purring along as they should, but the soundtrack that pervades every menu is a bit dated and in our humble opinion, a bit rubbish too.

Visuals
80%

It's getting harder and harder for racing games to impress from a visual standpoint on last-gen platforms when we see what new consoles are capable of. Nevertheless, Codemasters brings it with GRID Autosport, which save for a few jagged edges, looks pretty damn fine. Although it's not really a big leap on graphically over GRID 2.

Playability
75%

If you like your racers extra challenging and super punishing, then you're going to love GRID Autosport. If like the rest of the sane human race, you actually like to enjoy your racing games, then you might not find the patience to persevere. Dig deep and get through a few career seasons though, and GRID Autosport will start showing you some love in return.

Delivery
85%

There's flippin' loads of stuff to do in GRID Autosport, whether it's engaging in the long career for season after season across all five race disciplines, or becoming enveloped in the game's online multiplayer, there really is no shortage of content. Sure, it's rather dryly presented, but it's all good. Mostly.

Achievements
60%

Sure, we raised the bar with GRID 2's list, but Autosport's achievements are just boring as hell. Granted, they tick all of the boxes, but really, that's about it. Snore.

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