|System: DS, X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: FireBrand||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: CodeMasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
I've maintained for years that the racing genre is getting stale. There are so many good racing games available I continually ask, "Does the world really need another racing game?" Well apparently so, because they still keep making them, and that means that people are still buying them.
There are two reasons that you are reading this review: Either you are thinking of buying this game, or you already have purchased it and want to see if you agree with my assessment. Will GRID take its place among the classic handheld racing games, or will it be quickly be relegated to the discount bin? I'll let you know in the next paragraph if you promise to read the entire review. Deal? GRID is a darn good racing game. It will not reach classic status, simply because it's too similar to the developer's last effort, Race Driver: Create and Race. It's definitely more refined, and that's certainly worthy to note. With great graphics, controls, and plenty of gameplay variety, GRID is paving the path for the ultimate racing game that this series will eventually produce. Unfortunately, GRID is not that ultimate racing game.
GRID strikes a balance between arcade and sim. It's easy enough for novices to get into, and it's challenging enough for hardcores. The difficulty increases gradually, as the gameplay expands on the racing concept to include a series of technical tests and trials designed to improve your driving techniques. GRID is not just about crossing the finish line in first place. It's not the destination, with GRID it's all about the journey.
Comparisons to the console version of GRID are futile. There are no comparisons except for the title, but that's a good thing. The game has been specifically designed for the DS, and it shows. I can't find much to complain about. It looks good, it sounds good, it plays well, it's fun, and it's got some serious replay value with the multiplayer modes and the track editor.
A variety of licensed cars are put to the test on tracks all over the world. You will compete in a host of events, including different racing styles and challenges. Challenges include single races, time trials, and modes such Championship, Survival, Chase, Blueprint, Togue, and Drift Battle. Other challenges include tests such as Speed, Acceleration, and Braking. The controls are simple. There is acceleration, braking, and steering, facilitated by the D-pad and the face buttons, which are comfortable to access. Command-wise, the game is tight; it's got a great feel to it! Cornering is responsive; the vehicles have a good sense of weight and don't spin out of control unnecessarily. But when they do, the crash animations are great. So good in fact that they will make you feel a lot better about your accident, even if it's the A.I.'s fault.
Combining acceleration, braking, and tight cornering results in powersliding, a technique that you will simply have to master in order to best this game. There are plenty of urban environments where powersliding will help keep you ahead of the pack, and there are also powersliding challenges that will not only test your abilities but help you develop them.
Points are earned for winning races and completing challenges. These points are then used to upgrade the vehicles. Engine, braking, steering, gears, and even the chassis are customizable. I noticed an increase in power with the engine upgrade, but the other upgrades were so subtle that it was difficult to judge their effectiveness. As you progress through the levels, you will notice that speeds increase overall, although all of the other functions seem to increase exponentially with it as well.