Sometimes I feel like every pixel of GRID Autosport is against me. This is war. With the track and its sharp turns, with opponents, with your car and with yourself. The alignment is simple: either you snatch victory in the last bend before the finish line, or you fly into the bump stop, losing control. Modern racing games have forgotten how to give the player a bashing, which is why every podium in Autosport is perceived as a real triumph.
Last year’s GRID 2, perhaps, jerked the wheel too hard in the arcade direction, and many fans have turned their backs on this largely wonderful game. Autosport shows that Code masters backed up under the pressure of the veterans of the series – they say, I’m sorry, here’s your view from the cockpit. Everything that could cause even the slightest dissatisfaction of old fans was removed from the game. Oddly enough, this approach works in many ways – at least the novelty is not loaded with unnecessary details. There is no more advanced team management in Autosport, and the layout of the tracks has ceased to change on the go. Even the series’ signature storytelling has gone behind the scenes – now we just choose which team we will play with for the new season. Do you want motorsport? Hold on to motorsport – with an even more interesting control model and daring AI of rivals. The game seems to say: “Why do you need these nonsense with management and plot?
So, the view from the cockpit has returned – albeit with the textures of the prehistoric era, albeit with abundant “blur”, but still it is in place. The Demolition Derby mode has been open in the game from the very beginning – in GRID 2 it was available as a DLC. Traction control and anti-lock braking systems, without which serious racing game is unthinkable, are also present. A selection of tracks – the best hits of GRID and GRID 2.
The structure of the single-player mode has been noticeably simplified: the races are now divided into five disciplines, each with its own seasons and championships. You can consistently move forward in one category, but it is much more interesting to take prizes in different disciplines – this opens up access to the multidisciplinary Grand Slam racing series, where the type of car changes from race to race.
But the main thing is driving. GRID 2 was a very perky game, where every turn was passed exclusively in a skid – it was enough to slightly jerk the steering wheel to the side. In Autosport, however, the technique returned from heaven to earth and attached itself to the asphalt: if you want to drift, pull the handbrake. Cars behave noticeably differently – heavyweights hardly enter the corners, and “formula” cars seem overly nervous. At the same time, the game does not go into the territory of Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo – it is easy to master the controls here.
Although Autosport seems to be trying to pretend to be a simulator, the developers prioritize humanely – as in the first GRID, it is more important to do it not like in life, but so that we are interested. It is interesting for us mainly to fight with rivals – well, in addition to fighting our own car.
Each overtaking of the enemy is preceded by a protracted battle. First you sit on his tail, closing the distance with each turn, then finally you try to get around. Here the AI begins to resist with all its might – it blocks the road, constantly crawls back and forth and “cuts” turns, forgetting about the brake pedal.
This is a real confrontation – if in other games virtual rivals generally dutifully ride along pre-laid routes, then computer pilots from Autosport impudently board you at every turn, and, being behind, try to regain lost positions. Even when you finish by no means on a prize-winning place, you still feel exhausted: you have to fight for every advance on the grid. A special challenge is playing at a high level of difficulty with the interface disabled and without the ability to rewind time in case of an error. Inadvertently flew off the track – consider, lost.
Almost every race is an ordeal for fighting spirit. Where Tosca Race Driver was pumping up the tension with scripted plot races, Autosport unleashes a dozen virtual racers on the track, and a compelling story of victories and defeats develops on its own. Who needs scripted intrigue – although at one time the series was actively experimenting with storytelling – when the main rival in the championship looms in front of your nose?
It is noteworthy that opponents do not behave like flawlessly programmed robots. They make mistakes – they puncture tires, fly off the track, crash into bumpers. Every misfire turns the game into a real show. You match up with another pilot, he tries to hit you in the side, but then you press on the brake in time – and the opponent misses, losing control. In moments like this, Autosport is truly captivating.
The flip side of this medal is that artificial intelligence pets are completely devoid of a sense of self-preservation. In situations where it would be better to slow down and let another car go forward, computer racers continue to push ahead, not wanting to yield to any, and eventually fly off the track. Obviously, they are guided by the principle “it is better to die while standing than to live on your knees.” At first, these samurai antics are annoying (especially when the sponsor’s task requires you to finish the race without collisions), but then you somehow get used to it and just keep in mind that the rivals will fight to the last.