Is Codemasters’ latest entry in its Grid road-racing series ready for another lap or is it time to pit in? We find out.
Fresh off PlayStation’s Gran Turismo 7, racing in Grid Legends seems like a doddle. The two games are pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum. Gran Turismo 7’s uncompromising car physics and handling are a world away from the “simcade” racing style of the Grid games. GT’s careful cornering is replaced by exciting, if over-the-top, epic powerslides and drifts.
Grid Legends is the first title in the series since EA Games took over developer, Codemasters, last year. After F1 2021, it’s the second game published since the buyout.
Anyone fearing an appearance by EA’s DJ Atomica or other dodgy EA-fication can rest easy. Whilst the screen does get busy with racing accolades and scoring, it’s really no different than the 2019 Grid reboot. It’s actually the similarity to the 2019 Grid reboot that makes you wonder what you are paying for.
The game features many of the same circuits as the last Grid game. All given a little bit of polish, but essentially the same. There are 22 locations, each with several different circuit layouts. Add in different times of day and weather (including snow), and you’ve quite a bit of variety.
The biggest addition to Grid Legends is the story mode. This is a live-action drama set around a racing team and their new driver, Driver 22- the player. Your mileage with this will depend on how much you get out of watching the game rather than playing the game. Narrative campaigns have been a staple of EA Sports titles for a while now and have certainly played a part in past Codemasters games like Race Driver and F1. To be fair, the video sequences are not very long and do add a bit of drama to the game that even spills out onto the track.
There is still a career mode that can be played in addition to the drama of the story mode. This allows the player to just progress through the game unlocking cars and races in a more traditional manner. There’s also a social mode, which serves as the online multiplayer, for a quick online race or to browse through the race lobby.
If none of the above does it for you, the race creator allows players to create their own races, selecting type of race, class of vehicle, weather, time of day, laps, number of drivers, damage, difficulty, etc. So, if you want to race around Brands Hatch against 22 other suped-up big rigs, at dusk, in the snow, with ramps, you can.
The actual racing is quite breathtaking. As I mentioned, it’s a far cry from Gran Turismo, but no less exciting, letting players become racing superstars with relatively little effort or self-control. Turn off the rewind facility and the other driving assists like the racing line and breaking indicators and things start to get a little more tense.
The car handling lacks the dead weight of the Gran Turismo game, but the cars roll on their chassis realistically enough to have braking and inertia influence cornering speeds. You can feel the cars swaying and the tyres digging into the asphalt as you brake. It’s all a little more forgiving than it should be, but makes for a very accessible and fun racer. With rewinds and driving assists the gameplay scales quite nicely offering some exciting racing to players that may not be keen on the subtleties and self-control required of a proper racing simulation.
Grid Legends uses Codemasters’ proprietary Ego racing game engine rather than Onrush’s Evolved game engine as employed by the former members of Codemasters Evo in Dirt 5. This gives the game the same look and feel as previous Grid games and those of the Dirt series, prior to the fifth iteration. I think the Ego engine’s visuals look a lot better, with some stunning lighting and environmental effects as well as being finely tuned to offer a blistering frame rate.
Grid Legends offers some breathtaking racing that whilst not being the most realistic, is most definitely exciting. The game looks stunning and the story mode offers something a bit different, although the regular career mode is still there. It’s a great addition to the franchise that should keep fans very happy.
Grid Legends is out now on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. A PC version of the game was supplied by the publisher for this review.
Rating: Very good