Yes, that headline is correct. I have a preview build of the new Grid Autosport game, and I am here to tell you about it. Before I go too much into detail on how the game looks, feels and plays, I need to clarify that this is pre-release code and it is not final. Codemasters has promised that they are still working on making everything crisper, faster and bug-free.
As it is, all things written here are subject to change.
If you have been sleeping under a rock and are unfamiliar with Grid Autosport, it is the new game from the team at Codemasters who among the previous Grid games, is responsible for creating the F1 franchise racing games and the Dirt series of rally games. The Grid franchise itself looks to cut a path between the sometimes brutal realism of Gran Turismo and the laughably fake physics of Need for Speed .
This new game takes the lessons learned from Grid 2’s more approachable gameplay, then tightens things up a bit to be more realistic and adds in a handful of new driving modes and cars. Rather than pure street racing, Grid Autosport adds things like open-wheel racing and drift matches to the mix.
Is it any fun, and should it be on your purchasing radar? Hit the jump to find out.
You can tell from the first moments that Codemasters wanted this game to feel quick-paced and exciting. As soon as you start the game, you are sitting in the driver seat and getting ready for your first race. A few laps later as you cross the finish line, you are greeted with this mildly dramatic video that does its best to sell you on the fun and excitement that comes from so many different forms of motorsports.
From there, the game feels like a pretty straightforward racer, but it has been setup in a fashion that allows and promotes experimentation and fun. The main meat and potatoes of the game is the Career mode. In this mode you are continually working your way up the sponsor ladder to earn ever faster cars and better-paying gigs in your racing discipline of choice. There are five disciplines: Touring Car Racing, Endurance Racing, Open Wheel Racing, Street Racing, and Tuner Competitions.
Just like in most real racing, you have a teammate and specific goals to achieve. When you first start out, your goals are realistic. Things like “get 4th place or better” and “improve your lap time at least once in a race.” The game does a good job of giving you lots of ways to grow and improve your racing career, aside form snagging podiums. This approach gave me the freedom to turn up some of the difficulty without worrying about trying to constantly score a 1st place finish.
The cars themselves feel very traditional for a Grid game. The physics simulation is not as precise as games like Gran Tursimo or Forza, but there is a lot more skill and depth required to hustle around the track than what you get form Need for Speed. It strikes a very solid middle ground that can challenge veteran players without scaring off new comers.
The races themselves feel fast and aggressive with many of the AI players willing to trade paint to keep their racing line and their position in the rankings. More than once I was forced off track while trying to bomb the inside of a corner.
While I had fun in most every race, the drifting competitions did feel a bit odd. All of the cars felt a little too loose, and the throttle response was artificially touchy. Even while in a straight line, and regardless of speed, a full throttle pull will spin the rear tires. Codemasters says they are still tweaking the driving dynamics, and the Drifting has some of the biggest changes coming to it. As it sits now, drifting is my least favorite part of the game.
Graphically, the game could use some polishing, and due to a few small bugs I was unable to crank every setting on my PC to max or the game would crash. I am also told this will be fixed before the game launches in a few weeks. (I have included my full PC specifications below for comparison to your own computer.)
Overall I am very impressed with what Grid Autosport is offering. It isn’t perfect, but there is a very promising game here that is only a few changes away from being great. If you were on the fence about getting Grid Autosport, I think it’s probably safe to make that pre-order.
If you need a bit more convincing, I will have a full review in a few weeks when the finished game becomes available.
If you want to see more Grid Autosport, I will be playing it live tonight at 5PM EDT at Twitch.tv/Moeferd.