Keeping with the trend of reboots and rehashes, renowned racing game developers Codemasters have breathed new life into the GRID franchise with… GRID… (2019). GRID 2019 is actually the fourth GRID game by Codemasters, but the tenth in the TOCA Touring Cars series. Yeah, it is a little confusing, but all you need to know is that GRID 2019 is a reboot of older games. The racing genre might seem pretty simple, but there are different sub-genres that completely change the game you play. GRID is an arcade racer which means it takes away the focus on realism and instead focuses on gorgeous visuals, and some good old fun entertainment.
Reboots are difficult to pull off; treading that line between nostalgia and introducing new elements can be a tough one to walk. I am pleased to say that Codemasters have walked this line successfully in many ways. GRID feels like an evolution more than a revolution, consciously staying true to the original games whilst improving elements that needed improving. This is no easy sub-genre to compete in either, with the high bar that the Forza Horizon series has set but GRID does enough to stand on its own.
The single most important factor for racers is that the developers nail the fundamentals. The fundamentals of how the cars feel and how they control is of paramount importance. What I can say on that front is that GRID feels like an exhilarating ride every time you get behind the wheel. There is something about drifting around corners in downtown Shanghai in torrential rain and neon colours flashing all around, it is just pure entertainment. GRID genuinely does replicate that joy given by the old arcade machines that you had a ton of fun on as a kid.
There is plenty of variety to be had too. From current and classic cars, from GT through Touring, Muscle to Stock and Super Modifiers. There is a lot of variety to the cars. Unfortunately, and perhaps one of the most disappointing features of GRID is the lack of track variety. The GRID world series provides a lot of events to play through, but you will often race on the same tracks over and over again which does become a bit of a drag after longer play sessions. Considering how long the campaign is, I feel strange criticising the game for a lack of content but more tracks would have gone a long way in keeping activities feel fresh.
GRID introduces the nemesis system in this latest instalment. There are over 400 unique AI personalities that you can be matched up against. This is a very welcome feature in-game, what it means is that drivers around you feel unique. If you bump one driver too often though you will make a nemesis of that driver. As the name might allude, this driver will then spend the rest of the race being aggressive towards you. Expect to be bumped back and hassled. What I enjoyed about this feature is that it breathed life into the race. Of course, you know you are playing against CPU-controlled racers, but these features simulate a more realistic race.
Visually, GRID is an absolutely gorgeous game. From the downtown streets of a highly populated city, to the pureness of the actual race tracks, the attention to detail is immediately obvious. Fans in the crowd will flinch and pull away if you get to close to the sides, the car will drive dynamically depending on the weather, all in all GRID really is a feast for the eyes. Sound design is top-notch too, as you really hear and feel the power of engines revving. The word that comes to mind when I think of GRID is: quality. From visuals, controls, sound, all of it oozes quality.
We were lucky enough to review the Ultimate Edition content for GRID, this includes 6 months of premium content including: 99 extra Career events (33 per season), 12 new cars (4 per season) & Seasonal rewards. This pack also includes player cards, player banners, unique liveries and VIP status for your online profile. This seems like a very fair amount of new content although the lack of new tracks has me concerned.
All in all, reboots are not the easiest to pull off successfully but I can gladly say that GRID does just that. It retains the same joy and entertainment you expect from an arcade racer whilst providing a plethora of content. The notable letdown is the lack of tracks which often hampers longer play sessions as the campaign events, repeating on the same tracks, becomes a drag. The improvements to AI racing and the Nemesis system in particular are very welcome and improve the game immensely. Ultimately, GRID is a successful reboot of the series.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*