2009-03-10 22:54:06

GRID (Xbox 360)

GRID. When you think of a GRID what do you think of? a series of interlocking squares that form on graph paper? Some kind of power circuitry map? Now how about if I slap a big fancy car on the front of the box? What now? Gridlock? That unhappy state of being where you can't get home in time to catch the newest House episode on TV? The point being GRID is a genius title for a game about cars, since the name brings to mind nothing but negativity when put in the same vacinity as cars.

That doesn't make the game bad, just the name bad. The game itself is chrome plated vehicular masturbation. It's a game that puts you behind the wheel of some very fast very expensive cars, and makes damn sure you feel the tension of a race. Realistic physics, backed with realistic car damage, realistic Pit Crew messages, and realistic looking graphics will have you panting at the end of a race, grinding your teeth in anticipation for hitting the wall or scraping past a spun out opponent. This is not your little brothers race cart game. This is manly racing simulation at it's finest, so good that it even simulates Transmission damage from poor shift decisions.

The problem with this title is the utter seriousness of the title. It is a simulator, on par and possibly even surpassing greats like Forza and Gran Turismo. This is a game where the brake pedal isn't an afterthought, it's the RULE! Most other games you can get away with using only the gas pedal and shifting down and up where needed to control speed and force powerslides so wicked that they make ICP look straightedge. Not here, powerslides are a dangerous proposition in GRID as inevitably your wheels will eventually catch and you'll end up in a spinout, or they won't catch as much as you wanted and you slid off the track into the dirt or the tire barriers. In this game the trick is to drive hot, use the brakes at the end of a hot run, and knowing what gear is optimum to be in when coming out of a sequence of turns. This isn't a game so much as a simulation of all the hard work racers have to endure when running non-circular tracks.

I could only stand to play maybe 2 races at most at a time when playing GRID. The intensity was just that high. The constant avoiding wrecks with walls and other drivers, while trying to stay fast and nudge or surpass opponents in turns made the game very stress inducing. Which is not a very good thing unless there is some kind of release, and unfortunately the winning of a race is not as euphoric as it could be, as it just gives you the scoring ladder and says congratulations on making the winners circle, blah.

The graphic eye candy is so sweet it'll give your retinas cavities, there is an option which gives you more money to play in Headcam mode. Which is quite awesome. I personally love the in the cockpit view anytime I play a race game because it increases the immersion. The side effects and the reason you get more money in GRID from doing this is because when you wreck, sometimes ever so slightly even, your windshield cracks, spin out in the dirt and your windshield gets covered in shit and makes it hard to see, your mirrors can get busted, it is pretty intense. You can tell that the people at codemasters who put this game together has a solid eye for the details. Bravo!

I enjoy cockpit mode as well. The gadgetry inside the car and watching your characters hand fly from the wheel to the shifter to make a gear change periodically as well as the shift indicator lights made it all come together beautifully.

Reason Rank
Start 10
Visually stunning +8
Damage and Physic model simulations are damn near dead on the money +8
More stressful with less returns than arcade racers -6
Soundtrack consists primarily of tailpipe music -4
Total 16/10

The game ends up with a 16/10, which makes it a compelling game worthy of any racers time. I'd recommend it more so to the people who own the xbox 360 steering wheel and pedals as they will probably get the most bang for the buck. But I also say you have to have a lot of patience with this game and know when it's time to walk away from it for a little while and recoup, because this game reaches a meaty hand into your skull and plays tetherball with your brain, it is an intense brain exercise that will challenge you to use all things at your disposal, you can't just get away with holding the accelerator down and just using gear shifting to compensate. Doing that here will put you into walls, or other drivers and cripple your car out..