Codemasters are coming back to the GRID franchise in a big way this year.
The release of GRID on 11 October marks the series' first foray into the eighth generation of consoles, so we can expect substantial improvements on the previous games.
A new handling model, new cars, tracks and a new philosophy is behind the game, will be among other improvements. We were very excited to get our hands on it, thanks to some special early access to the game at Codemasters.
Where Sim Racers go to have fun
The new GRID is well-balanced between thrill and realismFinding the balance of where a racing game lies between simulation and arcade is a tricky compromise to make. GRID is labelled as being around 80% simulation and 20% arcade in terms of its gameplay style. It's nothing like F1 2019 in the sense that you have to hit every apex of every corner to be fast, and have to do so without sliding the rear tyres to prolong their usability.
Instead, GRID allows you to drive cleanly and smoothly if you want, but also gives you the option to be the last of the late brakers and really slide the cars into the corners. The latter is probably not the fastest method to tackling the circuits, but it is definitely the most exciting. The handling is realistic, though, as the same team which were behind Dirt 2's handling model have been employed here.
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Like the previous iterations, there's a huge variety of cars and events to choose from. From stock cars racing around Shanghai's streets to open-wheeled single seaters at Silverstone, there's a huge variety on offer here.
There's a key difference this time around, however.
You no longer have to win every race in a series order to unlock the series final. For the completionists amongst us, you can do so, but for those with not as much time to play, this allows us to progress to the GRID world series in a reasonable amount of time. This also stops the races becoming repetitive, but I doubt this would've been an issue, anyway.
We only had a short time to play the game, but in that time, every event was unique and had its own story to it, especially when we didn't win. There was one occasion when we started sixth, raced up to second, pushed too hard to catch the leader and spun before fighting back to fourth. For good racing games, it's about the journey to the chequered flag, not the finishing line itself.
Speaking of driving styles, there's a new feature in the 2019 GRID which ensures your actions have consequences...
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Turn up the heat with your rival in Nemesis modeWhen we sat down with GRID's developer, Chris Smith, he singled out Nemesis mode as the feature which is not only his personal favourite, but what is most likely to attract a new set of fans.
If you're a clean driver who doesn't crash into anybody and overtakes fairly, this isn't something you'll experience much. For the rest of us, though, here's what to expect. If you continuously crash into a specific driver, they'll become your "Nemesis", much like they would in the real world.
It's not as if your nemesis will then become a homing beacon for your car. Instead, it's much more realistic, as your nemesis will make your life difficult when you're together on track by taking blocking lines into corners and fighting tooth and nail to keep your behind.
AI can also become nemeses with each other, although this is rare, but it provides them with a unique personality. The developers can't remember the last time they remembered the names of fictional AI, and it really humanises them and puts you into their world.
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AI and Online
Every single AI driver has a different styleSmith explained that there's a complex "Carographer" which has 400 unique combinations of AI, which are ranked on attributes such as speed, consistency and their aggression. This adds to the bespoke nature of every race and keeps you on your toes. Much like a real life race, you can predict what a specific driver will do to pass you. Flores may go to the inside for a dive, whereas Fernandez prefers the outside line.
On the online front, there's a lot to achieve, as there's 500 levels to progress through, which are made up of five prestige blocks with 100 levels each. Chris said that he didn't envisage anybody hitting that ceiling anytime soon, so there's a challenge for the hardcore gamers out there.
Smith also explained that his main goal is to make a fun game that's accessible to all gamers. He confirmed that there will be DLC for GRID that will be released throughout the game's life cycle and that even those with the "Standard" edition of the game will be able to access it.
New tracks are free for everybody, but there will be perks for those who purchase the "Ultimate" edition, as they own all the new cars that are available, rather than those with the standard who have to rent some of them with the in-game currency.
GRID is released on PS4, Xbox One and Window's PC on 11 October 2019 and we can't wait for it, stay tuned to RealSport for more updates.
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