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 PLATFORM: XBOX 360
RACING'S FINEST

acing is a fearless, visceral experience that is instinctual in spite of itself. You slam down the accelerator, gear up to ramming speed, stretch the laws of physics at every chance, and go faster than is wise. However, there is a fate worse than death: coming in second place. Grid taps into this oddly natural compulsion in every way.

This is the fastest sim-leaning racing game I’ve ever played. With all the demanding S-turns and 90-degree corners, it’s also the most dangerous. You’ll have just as much fun shredding your ride in Grid as in Burnout. Once on a straightaway cooking at about a 170 mph, I clipped a barrier and shot my car twirling 15 feet into the sky. What kind of numb-nuts crashes on a straightaway, you ask? Well, I was in search of some serious speed, and I tried to shave things as close as possible, knowing that maintaining my speed at the risk of a possible crash was well worth it. And I’d do it again. Grid is built to not get in the way of your racing instincts.

The Flashback feature is just one way that Grid balances perfectly between being challenging and fun at every turn. You’re given a limited number of Flashback tokens every race, and these let you rewind the game whenever you want and reset time to before you crashed or blew that particularly hard corner. Far from being Groundhog’s Day, however, Grid is anything but predictable. Thanks to some well-tuned AI, computer-controlled competitors will pile up at difficult turns and generally act like humans. I probably could have spent a Flashback token per race due to the surprise crashes in front of me, which is a good balance.

Grid’s career structure is more fleshed out than fellow Codemasters title Dirt, and it’s positively inventive compared to the boring modes of most racing games. In Grid world it’s not a black and white case of win or lose; it’s more like win or win less. Due to your sponsorships, you’ll always get some cash wherever you place, and the game flows well enough that you don’t get hung up on a steep learning curve, even though the game can get challenging if you want it to. I loved the sponsorship aspect, as you can juggle them to maximize your profits. Selecting the best teammate is similarly important.

The career features are deep enough to engage those that want to get into them, but they never get in the way of your number one job – going as fast as possible. If a certain kind of racing isn’t your strong suit, there’s enough variety here that you’ll likely find something you’re good at. I particularly like the way Grid offers special events like the yearly Le Mans long-distance race, Japanese Touge (like Need for Speed’s canyons), and head-to-head battles.

Although the drift racing is too dependant on the hand brake and I’d like more emotional investment in the cars in my garage (some tweaking would be nice, as would more of a sense of pride in each car I own), Grid is a shining example of how to make a fresh racing game that captures that age-old, fundamental desire to go screaming down the asphalt like a rubber-shredding, hell-bent maniac.

  

MATT MILLER   9.25
From the moment the slick menu screens appear, Grid aims to pull you into its world. It’s a rare feat for a racer, and one that Grid executes flawlessly throughout the hours you’ll pour into one of the best releases the genre has seen in years. Whether it is hearing your actual name spoken by the team manager, choosing your sponsorship deals, or firing that slick Italian teammate who never wins a race for you, the constant stylistic touches keep you invested in the fantasy. That’s without even mentioning the stellar races, which never cease to deliver variety and excitement throughout your long career. By offering several options to tweak the difficulty, then adding in-race flashback sequences to recover from devastating mistakes, Grid encourages players to take chances and drive at the bleeding edge of their abilities. Even the occasional injection of tense music at just the right moment during races feeds the sense of drama and speed. While other games may nail the simulation experience, Grid embraces the fun of racing, and doesn’t let up until you cross the finish line.
9
CONCEPT:
Grid’s blistering racing and excellent career structure combine to form the best racing title out there
GRAPHICS:
The color palette is dull, but the details and sense of speed are great
SOUND:
Getting called by your real name during races is a nice touch, and hearing key competitor’s positions is very helpful
PLAYABILITY:
Due to the sense of speed and constant changing of cars, it may take you a few extra laps to get used to new courses
ENTERTAINMENT:
Do not hesitate. Hit the streets, drop the hammer, and go buy this game
REPLAY:
Moderately High
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