No modern-day racer captures the romantic ideal of driving a racing car like GRID Autosport. I’m talking about the roar of the crowd and the squeal of big, fat, slick tyres over smooth asphalt. Lock-ups into hairpins as you dive down the inside of the leader on the last lap. The sensation of riding the knife-edge of grip and wrestling your car back from the brink of disaster as you fishtail over a kerb. Approaching a fast corner wheel-to-wheel with an unyielding opponent and wondering if either of you is actually going to give. Every little drama is reflected in the superb sensation of movement, making it feel like you’re in GRID Autosport, not just influencing it.
The game is rooted in simulation, certainly, but you will spend significantly less time in the gravel than more straight-laced sims. The action is exaggerated too, with extremely fallible AI that not only makes believeable mistakes, but can experience a blowout at 160mph and end up flipping against a tyre wall, sending gravel and rubber flying into the air. This larger-than-life arcade excitement may be too chaotic for fans of ultra-serious sims (especially when there’s almost always a track-wide pile-up after the first corner), but everyone else will love the ‘highlights reel’ feel because, fundamentally, it is exciting to play.
That excitement isn’t limited to witnessing and dodging incidents, as the AI drivers exhibit the finest track behaviour yet seen in a racing game, making extended battles feel like a showdown between two great rivals. Get into a close-fought race with one of these guys and you’ll witness defensive driving lines, late-braking overshoots into hairpins, and fiendishly clever cut-backs to instantly regain lost positions. As a result, a normally-disappointing 8th place finish can feel just as rewarding as a win, especially starting from the back with the assists switched off.
Indeed, playing on the hardest setting is a blast, simply because it sets your ‘Flashback’ count to 0, meaning you can’t just undo errors Prince of Persia-style with a tap of Y, forcing you to consider your car’s damage levels as you drive. For maximum authenticity, you can even turn off the HUD and rely on aural feedback from your pit engineer by asking him about the condition of your car, or how you’re doing in the race via the d-pad.