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Codemasters Race Driver: GRID review

Verdict:

Review Date: 21 Jul 2008

Price when reviewed: inc VAT

Reviewed By: Alec Meer

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

While there tend to be at least three or four outstanding first-person shooters every year, it's rare for a new racing game to be hailed as the finest of its kind. Race Driver: GRID is one of few that deserves such an accolade.

Superficially, there's little to elevate this reinvention of what was once the TOCA franchise above the legion of rival racing games on the market. GRID sits squarely between hardcore simulations such as GTR2 and forgiving arcade racers such as Sega Rally. On the one hand, it's possible to trash your car if you crash - the AI racers are supremely aggressive, and spinning off the track will often end your race. On the other, you can cheerfully pinball off a few walls without catastrophe.

This may make GRID sound rather average, but it's flair that matters here. It has none of the dry presentation found in racing simulations, but rather showmanship at every turn. Crashes are spectacular, metallic letters spelling your name hover above your car at the start of the race, and the game refers to you by name (or nickname). The entire affair feels like a celebration of you. The incredible graphics engine helps, but don't look at the individual details - instead, sit back and take in the sheer quantity of scenery, destructible or otherwise.

Is this the best racing game ever, though? Diehard simulation fans will sneer at the forgiving handling, while fair-weather racers may find the lack of a tutorial or assistance a barrier to entry. This is especially true for the drift races - new to the series - which involve a completely different, corner-sliding discipline that's utterly baffling if you're not familiar with it. In this way, GRID alienates the two extremes of its audience by focusing on the middle ground. However, the masses in the middle will find GRID an exceptionally good racing game.

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