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GRID

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: Oct. 11, 2019

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'GRID'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 8, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

GRID 4 delivers intense wheel to wheel racing action, spanning four continents in some of the world's most famous city streets and race circuits.

Pre-order GRID

After seeing GRID at E3 2019, I am convinced that more racing games need to take a few pages out of its upcoming book. It's shaping up to be an accessible sim in its approach to racing, but it also isn't as starkly clinical as games like the mainline Forza and Gran Turismo series have become. There's passion and rivalries to be sparked, with AI profiles that vary from driver to driver to the point that they feel much more alive than most racing games allow for. I sat in the driver's seat alongside the game's director Chris Smith and chatted with him while taking a few laps.

The game has a ton of events to choose from across different racing leagues, but you aren't tied to a progression path. Complete a few events, and a bunch more will unlock. Player choice and accessibility are one of the key pillars behind the design philosophy of GRID, and that extends to its simulation options. Turn off everything to get a more realistic racing experience, or flip on every assist in the book and have a more pleasant experience instead. The game isn't going to judge you either way.


However, the AI racers participating in the races alongside you are going to judge you. Each AI racer is composed of one of the 400 AI designs that the game has. Each such design has different characteristics: how they approach a corner, what their braking zones are like, their aggression, etc. A key trait is what I will call their "chill," which you test any time you make contact or use their car as supplementary brakes when entering a corner. Piss them off, and you might make them a rival.

I've never remembered the name of the AI racers in any racing game, but I won't soon forget Fernando. Fernando was an AI racer in an event where we were all in muscle cars, and I may have accidentally rear-ended him a little bit. Not only did this spark a rivalry as indicated by the on-screen pop-up, but Fernando clearly got mad and became a full-on nemesis.

His aggression level toward me was such that not only was he specifically battling me like mad for any position change, but at one point, he clearly tried to give me a little love-tap to basically PIT maneuver me out of the way. I got in sixth in that race because it was a very demanding course, but Fernando got seventh because screw that guy. I haven't had that much fun finishing outside of the podium in a long time.


It amounts to another key pillar of the game as indicated by Chris: drama and unpredictability. In other racing games, the AI goes around the course, sticking to the same racing lines in practically parade formation with only a hint of humanity to an otherwise robotic nature. With its rivalries and nemesis system, that is not the case with GRID. Furthermore, you'll see drivers make mistakes — sometimes a mere wiggle and losing some time, and other times you'll come around a corner and see a car rolling sideways off course. It feels more alive and certainly much more dynamic.

GRID found itself on my shortlist of games that I will absolutely be checking out at release. It's not that it is doing anything with its cars that other games aren't already doing. Rather, it's what it is doing with its drivers that is one of its biggest draws. It felt a lot like a necessary breath of fresh air in the single-player experience of a racing game. I look forward to seeing what else GRID has in store once it releases.



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