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GDC 18 Hands On – Grip (PS4) Combat Racing Reborn

Caged Production’s upcoming combat racer Grip is a fast and fun racer, featuring ferocious speed and hardcore combat inspired by the Rollcage series. Yet it forges its own path as a seat-of-your pants experience like nothing else in the racing genre for this generation of consoles.

The Insanity of Combat Racing Begins With the Track

Before jumping into the game and hitting the track, I sat down with one of the developers and got the inside scoop on what we can expect. The team didn’t want to skimp on tracks and locations, so they started out with four different planets and then have 18 tracks spread out across them. Some of these will be reversed, with revamped jump sections, but each track should feel unique. I was shown two different tracks and both were equally insane. There are plans for more tracks as DLC, but these will be free. Planets range from ice cubes to fireballs, so you can expect a wide variety of weather and environments to race through.

The vehicles are just as insane as the tracks are, with an open wheel style that allows them to flip and run upside down when needed. It’s a good thing they feel glued to the track, as some of the tracks will have you flipping to run on the ceiling or doing a half roll to run on the walls. There are currently 15 different vehicles in three different classes, and each vehicle can be customized by color and body parts. There will be micro-transactions for cosmetic add-ons, but there is no pay-to-win model. I specifically asked about that as it seems to be more and more common these days.

Grip preview

Have a Flipping Good Time

As I said before, the tracks are insane, so your driving techniques have to border on insanity as well. After watching the developer go through a race, he let me take the game for a spin. This game would be challenging even if you didn’t have other racers trying to kill you, as just figuring out a decent racing line is not only tricky, but dangerous. The track I raced had twists and turns and jumps that might flip you, roll you, or spin you like a madman. Just when I thought I had hit a good line into a corner, the unforeseen jump around that corner launched me to the ceiling, where I stuck like a wheeled magnet but kept forging on, never losing speed.

Did I mention other drivers trying to kill you? This is a combat racing game, and weapon pick-ups are lined up throughout the track ready for you to grab them or be blasted by them. Things like heat seeking missiles, rockets, land mines, shields, and boosts were a few of the ones I witnessed, and those missiles were a pain in my vehicle’s butt more than once. There are also boost pads you can run over, and depending on which class of vehicle you are using, these pads may be the difference between first and last. I thought I had first wrapped up as I approached the finish line, but alas a rocket hit me and I dropped back to fourth at the last second. Shoulda saved my shield, damn it.

There is no set release date for consoles right now, but the game has been announced as releasing sometime this year. It’s currently available with Early Access on Steam, but with the PS4 Pro enhancements that were mentioned previously, you may want to have a little patience. I played the game on a PS4 Pro on a 4K monitor and it looked gorgeous, even when I ate that rocket.

Grip was a fast paced, dangerously fun combat racer that brought back memories of Twisted Metal, but with a more sci-fi twist. This is one I’m definitely looking forward to.