It wasn’t all that long ago that Codemasters announced out of the blue that the sequel to GRID 2 was going to be GRID Autosport. Now here we are less than a month away from launch and thanks to the good people over at Codemasters, we got to get our hands on a preview of the game. As this is a preview and not the full product, certain features of the game were not accessible such as the DLC store and Split screen racing. The following preview was based off the PC version.
The main menu boasts a selection different modes to try out such as the previously aforementioned Split Screen mode, which is a very welcome addition in this gamer’s humble opinion, Career mode, Online mode and Custom Race mode. Custom Race mode is exactly what you would expect it to be, and allowing you to select which type of race and which category of cars you would like to choose. It’s simple and effective yet gets the job done for when you don’t want to go into your career mode. Similarly online mode is pretty self-explanatory and whilst I played a few game online, I never found there to be any lag or problems finding matches, in part thanks to the Steam servers.
Career mode brings you from being a driver starting off and acquiring contracts with teams who have certain goals per season that need to be met in order to gain experience from that team. Experience gained in career mode contributes to your driver level, which in turn will gain you more contract offers the higher it goes. Challenges are also introduced throughout races and are also dependant on your reputation with a team, your driver level and so on. Examples of these challenges range from finishing X number of spots higher than your starting position to beating your rival driver. It provides a lot more variety to the game as the incentive to do not only the best you can for your team, but balance it out with gaining the most challenge rewards per race to increase your overall XP gains.
Along with challenges and team objective to boost your XP gain, how difficult you have the game in the settings also affects how much XP is generated per race. At default settings you gain an extra 28% XP per race. The options are highly configurable difficulty level and Damage level to AI difficulty, how many flashbacks you want and more which allows you to customize how easy or hard you want your races to a level you’re comfortable with. I personally loved this as the incentive to challenge yourself is there with the additional XP rewards, but the option to tone it down when things were too tough, especially on the fly as you can change the settings before each race without having to exit to the main menu, is a welcome addition.
Career mode is split into 5 types of racing with each type vastly differing from its counterparts. One of the more challenging aspects of the game in this regard was when you were switching between modes at a rapid pace, such as how I was. The cars and modes are so different in the way that they control that it feels like each mode is yours to master as they each require a different skill to learn to apply to the races. The career is broken down into seasons, and you can only play one mode during a season. Luckily none of the season take long, on average from my time playing the preview only 3-4 races so it allows you to chop and change between the various modes easily. Before each race you can change the tuning of your car to match how you play better, including things such as suspension, down force, differential and gear ratios.
Touring mode consists of high contact pack racing with an emphasis on overtaking with confidence. Each of the cars used in this mode are spec’d quite closely to each other so it becomes more about your skill and tactics to gain places on the pole. There is a higher emphasis on teamwork in this mode as it is up to you and your teammate to gain the highest pole positions available for your team and leading them to victory in the team championship. There are a set of controls available during races to tell your teammate whether he should push for a higher spot, hold his spot and so on. It adds a lot of strategy to your races to lead your team to a victory. These races usually happen over multiple days in game, and when you finish one day, the poll positions are reversed on the second so if you had come in first in day one, you’ll be 16th on day two.
Endurance mode consists of night time racing with a higher emphasis on maintaining tire quality over the course of the races. Going off track, colliding with other cars and breaking too sharply all affect your tire quality and if it deteriorates too much, you’ll find yourself struggling to do even the most basic of manoeuvres. I found this mode to be quite the challenge, especially after playing a mode such as Touring or Street as to go from not caring about skidding around a corner to being as careful as can be was such a contrast that it took me one or two retries to get it right, however this isn’t a bad thing at all as it adds to the variety and challenge of the game.
Open Wheel racing is all about grip mastery and knowing when to break and turn effectively to gain positions on the pole. Using lightweight, F1 like cars in this mode, it adds a lot more speed to your races, which in turn adds a lot more risk if you can’t control your car. Unlike other modes, there is a higher emphasis and importance on qualifying for a starting position as throughout a multiple day racing season, the pole position you qualify for is kept throughout the entire event.
Tuner races are all about your classic races such as time attack and drifting. Time attack is all about gaining the best time whilst trying to avoid the traffic that is trying to make your life hell whilst drifting is a knockout competition to gain the most points. The higher you get to the corner the more points you’ll earn but should you hit a cone or fail the drift, you’ll end up with nothing.
And finally, Street racing is going back to tight city streets, with some of the tracks being from previous games as I noticed whilst driving through my first season, using a variety of vehicles such as hatchbacks and coupes. These types of races are very close, intense racing with a very high risk factor should you try to overtake and it goes wrong. It was definitely one of the most fun modes I’d played, partly because it was reminiscent of what GRID was whilst showing how far it had come.
When I finally downloaded GRID Autosport, I was looking forward to going back to familiar territory having only played GRID 1 back on the Xbox 360 a while after it was out. What I wasn’t expecting was how much the game has evolved since GRID 1, and as a result how much better the game plays. With its stunning graphics, superb gameplay, challenging yet rewarding career mode and great online and local features, this will be a must buy for racing fans should the release version be anything like this.