Review of grid legends
With Grid Legends, Codemasters took a different approach to trying to create a racing game that had broad market appeal. Along with the traditional career path that is standard with the racing game, Grid Legends has added a story mode. In this narrative branch of the game, you play as Driver 22, a rookie driver looking to make his mark in racing. An opportunity arises when a racing team loses one of its drivers.
This team, however, is in trouble. They haven’t had much success in their previous seasons and are on the verge of failure. The owner, pilots and crew have everything to succeed. Which means they’re looking for a savior. Of course, you play the role of said savior. So it all depends on how you do.
So if you choose Story Mode, each racing event is interwoven with dramatic cut scenes. These scenes add emotional drama to what, in career mode, would be another simple goal to achieve. The end result of story mode is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the actors are good and their performances are believable. On the other hand, the overall story does not fully work. I suspect it’s because there are big breaks between the story and the time you spend running around.
Still, it’s an interesting experience. The purpose of story mode is to emotionally engage the player, but there is another benefit. Whether it’s intentional or not, if you’re playing the story mode, this is a great roundup of what the game has to offer. You will be able to see a wide variety of cars, tracks and different racing events. This visit is made easier because you can skip all the video footage.
Grid Legends is highly customizable across the board. From macro, track level, to mic, tuning and car appearance. There are over 250 career events, 130 possible courses across 22 locations. Some locations are new: London, Moscow and Strada Alpina and others are back: Mount Panorama and Yokohama Docks. There are over 100 vehicles available, from open-wheel vehicles to trucks to electric vehicles. Drift and Elimination modes are also back.
As for the more traditional components of the game, there are the expected Career, Quick Races, Challenges, and Multiplayer options. With this iteration of the Grid franchise, cross-platform support exists between Xbox, Playstation, and PC. There is also a Race Creator which allows you to create and share your own tracks.
The game supports both controllers and driving wheels. I played with a wheel and found the game fun. To be clear, this does not mean that the driving model is realistic. You can adjust the behavior to your liking by disabling some or all of the driving aids. Even with all the driving aids turned off, the driving model is all about fun, not realism.
If you go into it knowing that, the end result is nice because the behavior is consistent. Consistency in handling is key as it gives you confidence. You learn how vehicles behave in different circumstances and this behavior repeats itself. In Grid Legends, the key to handling is the rear of the vehicles. It slips but is easily, if unrealistically, recoverable. This feature makes driving fun.
Each vehicle’s handling is unique, which is a good thing. On the negative side though, road conditions don’t make much of a difference. I was able to whip an open wheel around a course the same whether the surface was dry or wet. It’s a game decision between realism and fun that will feel right or wrong to you.
One of Grid’s trademarks is the Nemesis system. In single player races, some opponents will target you. This means that they will chase you and crush you. While it certainly adds spice to a run, the implementation leaves something to be desired. If an opponent wants revenge for bad running etiquette on your part, that’s understandable. If you bump into a driver to move forward, it just seems like you get punished. However, if you pass someone cleanly, you should not be punished.
Lots of mods
More enjoyable is the elimination mode. Here, you race in a traveling time trial mode. You enter elimination mode knowing that the objective is not only to get ahead of the pack, but also to fight with the other cars. As long as you can stay ahead of the grid, you’ll beat the timer countdown. This is a free for all which is a hoot.
The game offers a great option in terms of vehicle availability. Normally in Career mode, you have to rack up a combination of wins, points, and miles to unlock the best cars. Here you can, indeed, rent the best vehicles. This means that you will pay a percentage of your earnings to use a locked vehicle. Additionally, miles earned with the leased vehicle will not count towards your career total.
Being able to use locked vehicles is great for the Race Creator. Without leasing, many cars could not be used in Race Creator. This is a game mode where you can set up some really weird combinations. With multi-class you can race trucks against minis against F1 cars! You can also make F1 cars jump off ramps! Savage.
Graphically, the game looks good on a PS5. The game does not aim for realism but for visual impact. More importantly, the frame rate is solid. Always vital for a racing game. The weather effects are good too. Rain and snow hamper your vision but not the frame rate. The sound is also solid although the game doesn’t seem to take advantage of the PS5’s 3D capabilities. For those who will play the game with the Dual Sense, the news is disappointing. The game does not take advantage of adaptive Dual Sense triggers and haptic feedback. There is some use of the rumble feature, but it’s anemic. Players who use an FFB steering wheel will be satisfied.
Hats off to Codemasters for trying something new with Story Mode. While it doesn’t improve the game in the intended way, it is a worthwhile tour of the game’s offerings. Grid Legends is a lot of fun, and that’s what really matters at the finish line.
***PS5 code provided by publisher for review***
- Playful and varied driving scenarios
- Highly customizable
- Tight controls
- Replays do not allow free camera movement
- Bifurcates between arcade and serious simulation
- AI is not consistent