Steve McQueen once quoted that “anything in life other than racing is just…waiting.” Budding virtual racers around the world have been waiting over half a year for a new season of motorsport madness to begin. Enter the world of GRiD Autosport, the newest title in Codemasters long running series of racing titles. I must admit I’m a big fan of them, going all the way back to the original TOCA in the 90’s. So, has the wait been worth it…? Jump behind the wheel and find out!
Autosport sees you as a driver for hire in a highly competitive world of multi-tiered, multi discipline racing. There’s all the favourites you can expect from the Grid series; Open wheel, endurance racing, GT cars, touring cars, street racing and modified road car racing. Autosport delivers the biggest, most diverse career mode yet, with the opportunity to build your career based off your favourite discipline. Each one is yours to explore-look at team offers, rise through the ranks, and play how you want, where you want. Stuck on that one open wheel race because Pastor Maldonado sent you off again? Fear not, you don’t need to throw your steering wheel just yet. Each discipline has several series for you to try at a time, and even if that discipline is making you see Ferrari Red you can always try another discipline instead. It’s possible to simply concentrate on one group of cars, and make your way to the top there. As you progress you aim to race for Ravenwest-age old rivals from the older Grid games, who always have the best cars and the best drivers (enter Nathan McKane from the original V8 Supercars.) As you level up in disciplines you’ll be invited to the ‘Grand Slam’ championships, which feature the best of the best in grueling no holds bar encounters. I haven’t quite leveled to there yet, so I’m as keen as you to see where victory lane takes us from there.
The vehicles and tracks are as beautiful as ever. Old favourites from previous Grid titles are back, along with flashy new locations like Dubai and Yas Marina. The car range is diverse as well-with handling to match. Street cars are very jumpy and easy to throw around, open wheel cars require the most delicate of handling input, and endurance cars need to be smooth and steady if you want your tyres to last. Oh, and did I mention that the V8 Supercars are back? WITH BATHRUST!
The AI is also more refined, and adjust to the discipline. Touring car races are brutal; expect paint, bodywork and rude gestures to be exchanged frequently. Open wheel cars won’t be as aggressive, but will still try to cut in front and draft you. Street racing is just as big a bar fight as you’d think. Be particularly wary of opponents sneaking up trying to ‘dive bomb’ you into the corners. I call them ‘Stukas’. The AI reminds me very much of Forza; each one unique, with its’ own style, and will adapt to your driving and your manoeuvres. It’s almost at times like playing with real people (with less 12 year olds screaming into their headsets.)
Multiplayer is the most diverse and comprehensive online Grid experience yet, with the introduction of their new ‘RaceNet’ club. You can join anything from single races to entire online championships anytime (including the return of the highly requested demolition derbies). Joining up to RaceNet also gives you new challenges every week, with leader boards that measure who’s number one weekly and overall. You can start your own club, design your own livery, and invite your friends to race the world as a team. You can check each others stats, compare your progression, and share in game moments. RaceNet allows you to have up to 100 members in your team, and all XP you earn under that team goes towards a collective ranking. Each club has its own webpage to view and communicate with other team members, and is put into an overall online ranking system. Club members can check out their ranking within the team, and check out the team garages to see what cars everyone’s using to dominate the world. Simple and intuitive admin features allow club management through their own owners and moderators. RaceNet was the type of thing that many fans were calling for, and for those who love to race with their friends it promises limitless possibilities. Not to mention plenty of in house rivalry.
GRID Autosport’s launch also marks the start of new RaceNet Challenges, which give players six fresh new challenges every week. In RaceNet Challenges, players will earn XP and in-game cash to use in the game and will earn more for finishing higher on the leaderboard, which will feature all the participants in each challenge. The challenges that are live as of release day (today 26 June 2014) are as follows:
- Endurance Racing – Endurance GT cars at Spa-Francorchamps
- Street Racing – Hypercars at Washington, D.C.
- Touring Cars – V8 Super Tourers at Mount Panorama
- Open-Wheel – IndyCar racing at Indianapolis
- Tuner – Drift event at the custom designed Autosport Raceway
- Party – Demolition Derby at Detroit
Players can join RaceNet for free by visiting www.racenet.com.
GRID Autosportplayers will experience five different styles of motorsport, each featuring different dedicated series. Players can choose to specialise in their favourite or conquer them all, online or in the game’s career mode. Each disciple gives players a uniquely different challenge and experience, and requires different racing skills.
Codemasters have a long history of listening to their fans, and in Autosport you can really feel that. They’ve taken a lot of what made the original Grid such a runaway success, and built on it, refined it, and expanded it into a massive offline and online web of racing enjoyment. Whether you want to take the world by storm alone or as a team, Autosport is the place to be. So, what are you waiting for? Firesuit up, tighten your grip on the wheel and plant it!
- The handling system is much the same as the other Grid titles. It’s not quite the arcade style that some are, but at the same time you can fine tune and tinker with the car until your hearts content.
- The AI make for an exciting race. Push, adapt, counter attack. Expect these guys and girls to give no quarter. It really does feel like they want the win just as much as you do. Do not relax around them.
- The career system is very well set up. Easy to navigate, multiple options to progress your career, and many more events mean you’ll be on the track for quite a while.
- I do kind of miss the fact that you could build your own team, livery and identity in the older Grid titles. Online allows you to but I get a far better feeling from winning in a car that represents my own team an identity.
- Each discipline has different rules at times. Some allow you to qualify, some don’t. It can be a little frustrating to be starting from last in every race with no say in it (especially with the fearsome AI going all Maldonado on you at times.)
- A few little things that weren’t bad enough to be a con alone: No DTM, maybe a few more cars in some categories, no Australian tracks other than Bathurst, the drift-like handling of EVERY car can be a little annoying at times.
- AI can ‘rubber band’ at times and display mysterious boosts of speed at times when you’re trying to catch them, contact with opponents can send you flying into the wall or break your car whilst they continue as if nothing happened…but in all seriousness, I’m nit picking here!
Written by Ben Rachow