GRID Autosport Hands-On Preview (PS3)
The racing game genre has generally fallen into two select categories, simulation and arcade. Usually a title tries to embody that concept to its fullest, as some call themselves ‘the driving simulator’ or just throw out all sense of reality and strap on a turtle shell. But, Codemaster’s upcoming racer, GRID Autosport looks to not only walk the line between the two, it looks to show that simulation doesn’t have to be inaccessible, and that arcade doesn’t have to be a shallow experience.
Getting my hands-on GRID Autosport for the first time felt familiar, not because I had played GRID before, but because everything about it was innately natural and comfortable for a racing title. Driving around a race track in a Touring Car, drafting opponents, and trying to cut the corners as close as possible, everything was as it should have been.
After finishing my lap, a new mode was booted up, one called Open Wheel. Unsure what to expect out of a my F1 styled racer beneath me, I revved the engine, waiting for the ability to go and floored it as hard as I could. As soon as I reached a corner, I let off the gas, looking to take it at the apex with ease, then went hard on the gas to pull through and that was when I learned Autosport isn’t a one trick pony with different paint jobs.
The difference between a Stock Car and an Open Top Car is night and day, and Autosport does a wonderful job of making both feel unique and like a completely different game. Open Top racing requires much more finesse with the throttle, understanding that traction is only available when you are able to acquire enough downforce to keep your tires planted to the ground, otherwise you will just spin out.
After doing donuts all the way around the track and abusing the rewind function, I figured out how to balance my grip and acceleration. After that, I was taken into a 3rd mode – Street Racing. Using real cities with closed off streets, it was only seconds until I recognized my city of San Francisco and completely fell in love with the games drastic change in environments and vehicles once again.
Forgetting my previous need for balance, I floored it down a hill, only to remember that the added momentum from gravity is going to add time to my braking distance, so I braked early and took the L-turn ahead. Only to watch the game’s AI not realize this, and slam into the wall, as I was informed that they too will make mistakes.
Past these 3 different modes I was able to try out, there are two more. Endurance, a standard set of extended races, where a player will have to balance their speed and wearing out their tires. Then, there will be the Tuner Competition, where players will be able to finely tune their cars and take on various time-attack, drift and standard race challenges.
All of these modes play a part in the game’s career mode, where you will sign with a specific team for a season as you try to sign with bigger and bigger teams. Each team will pair you with a teammate, who you can give commands to for a defensive play, or an offensive play depending on the situation, as well as being able to call in for information from your pit-crew at the touch of a button. If by chance you don’t care for a specific discipline, you are also able to completely ignore that side of the game and focus where you want in the career mode.
Fans of Codemaster’s RaceNet will be glad to know that the service will connect to GRID Autosport. But, on top of the existing features, there will be a new one called RaceNet Clubs. A feature born through conversations with fans, it is a clan system that will let up to 100 players unify under a custom livery and earn XP to compete against a club ranking system.
For gamers looking for online functionality, there will be 99 levels for each of the disciplines that will constantly have things to unlock, with around 30 to 50 hours of content here alone. One of the main concepts surrounding this mode, is the idea that players will become more attached to a specific car. As they will have to purchase and maintain their own vehicle with in-game currency and as they drive it, it will earn its own experience, leading to more and more unlocks. But, the added mileage will leave some wear and tear on the car, making it more prone to future damage.
Set to release on June 24th on the PS3, with over a 100 different routes, across 22 locations and with over 80 cars, GRID Autosport is looking to be a game that racing fans of all types will want to keep an eye out for. So, stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle as we will be bringing you more news as it becomes available.
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