The Nintendo Switch is a niche console to many, but it has sold over 35 million units worldwide and has now out-sold the PS4 in Japan despite coming out 3 years later. That makes its lack of certain games rather head-scratching.
One of those game genres that was missing was a serious racing game. The Switch used a new version of Mario Kart to launch itself into the homes of millions, but the nostalgia and multiplayer fun of Mario Kart 8 does not make it an engaging single player experience.
GRID Autosport is here to correct that.
Hitting the shelves on 19th September and at a competitive price of £29.99/$34.99, can GRID Autosport create a genre revolution that will bring serious racing games to the Switch?
A diverse racing experience
The one thing every serious racing game needs is an impressive handling model, and GRID Autosport has that.
Every car feels different, with the responsive and agile single-seaters floating through corners and flying down straights while the stock cars feel like a truck in comparison. Slow to accelerate and hard to turn they require a completely different driving style.
When docked and playing on a controller you get a nice force feedback that allows you to feel the road and sense the kicks of oversteer or lack of traction. When handheld the Switch can’t replicate that, but it does well enough for you to still feel connected to the car.
On a big screen the graphics hold up well and can be spectacular on the city circuits. Car liveries are vivid and the tracks look unique. Night races in particular are stunning.
GRID Autosport brings a gritty realness to a console that is normally the home of cartoony graphics so it can be quite the shock at first, but once you have adjusted it becomes clear and easy.
You can sense the speed when choosing lower camera angles, and the sun can play havoc with shadows in city circuits.
Handheld the screen is not cluttered at all, something that can so easily happen when you have a lot of information in the corners like you do with racers.
Circuits, cars, & career mode
You drive everything from single-seaters to touring cars and take them to almost every track in the game. The career mode offers you five categories to race: Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner, & Street. With a selection of race options from straight up lap races to time attacks, hot laps, and the frustratingly hard drift challenges, there is plenty to do and a wide selection of cars to do it in. When you level up by completing team & sponsor goals and winning championships and eventually you will be invited to the GRID Grand Slam.
The selection of cars is enormous. From the VW Golf and Mini Cooper in Street races to the beautiful Aston Martin Vanquish. There are classic Tourers like the Nissan Skyline and Ford Sierra. The wonderful McLaren F1 is available in the Endurance GT group 1 and the super-lightweight Ariel Atom is in the Open Wheel section. In the Hyper Car class you have access to the Bugatti Veyron, the Koenigsegg Agera, and the Pagani Zonda.
As for tracks, you can go racing around Spa or the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuits, as well as the iconic Brands Hatch and Indianapolis tracks. Cities like Barcelona, Chicago, Paris, and Dubai have courses too, while there are hill climbs and mountain passes to go point-to-point on and countless short circuit variations of the F1 super circuits like Silverstone, Hockenheim, and Sepang.
The choices and combinations you can run are really endless.
READ MORE: All F1 2019 setup guides
No game is perfect, so what are the downsides to this one? Well, the lack of a story or rivalry of any kind does make it a little bit of a grind. It is also hard to stick with the tricky and troublesome slower cars in career mode when the hyper cars are all unlocked and available in quick races.
While you can use setups to try and improve car performance at races the options are limited and it is incredibly easy to leave yourself with an armful of oversteer and a totally undrivable car. As such you should just leave the setup page alone unless you have a lot of time to test and practice before hitting races with your newly tuned car.
There is currently no multiplayer option, either local or online. That is a problem for a racing game, which often requires using multiplayer to get longevity out of the game.
However, the positives of this game far outweigh the negatives. While you can take single-seaters around iconic circuits on your commute, this game comes to life when you dock the Switch and take to the city streets with the high-end road cars. The speed and bumper-to-bumper racing is intense and requires precise control and more than a little nerve. The different challenges keep the career mode fresh and different, especially if you can cope with the tricky drift events.
The price of £29.99 makes this game a great value, and even more so if they add multiplayer later on.
GRID Autosport will hopefully open the door for Codemasters, who developed this game along with Feral Interactive, to release their major titles on Switch in the future. F1 2019 did not have a Switch release, and the spiritual successor to this game’s original console & PC release is coming on 11 October. Titled GRID, it is not currently slated to get a Switch version either.
If GRID Autosport can change the way realistic games are seen on Nintendo then the future for racing games on this console will be massive.
RealSport Rating: 7.8/10
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