IT ALL HAPPENS SO FAST
Many racing games live or die on their sense of speed and “GRIP” is able to get you up and moving at a breakneck pace in no time. The whole experience can feel like you are on a bullet train that is out of control until you become familiar with its driving physics and how the rides react to the environment. Knowing when to take advantage of what the tracks give you can mean the difference between winning and losing. You will have to take to the walls, ceilings, and the air to shave seconds off your laps.
While “GRIP” has its roots in the floaty feeling future racers of the past, the team made sure that you are always aware of when the rubber meets the road. The oversized tires are not for show. Ensuring that they are pressed against the racing surface and not colliding with other cars or static objects is crucial to your success. This is not a game you can pick up and master in a few sessions. There are no training wheels here and your hand will not be held. I fully expect the skill gap between veterans and newcomers to be vast and possibly off-putting for those at the start of their journey.
The track designs, while creative, offer little or no indication for what the player should prepare for. I often found myself unsure of where to go or what parts to aim for without lots of trial and error. Missing jumps is always costly and there is no real way to know the sweet spots for a given vehicle and track without lots of failing. While I liked a few of the powerups, I never got the hang of when to use them or how to make them work for me in the most efficient way. It is not hard to fall so far behind the pack that the powerups feel worthless. In the PvP battle mode, they all feel more at home.
THE CHECKERED FLAG IS IN SIGHT
“GRIP” runs on the Unreal Engine 4 and can be quite the looker depending on what track you find yourself on. I played the PC version and had no performance issues at all and users with mid-range PCs will have no trouble getting super-smooth gameplay from modest hardware. Online play was easy to join and the netcode felt solid in every match I participated in.
On the whole, I felt good about my time with “GRIP.” It still feels like it could use more polish across its track design and some more fine tuning to balance. All too often I would make a mistake, be placed back on the track, then be knocked back into trouble by the AI racers in a punishing loop that I felt I had no control over. The tire physics and the racing feel are unique and will likely reward those who commit for the long haul.
I feel that “GRIP” will draw lots of strong opinions on either side of the spectrum and that the diehards will stick with it for the foreseeable future. It’s not likely to set the world on fire and will appeal mostly to the nostalgia of older PC gamers, but does enough to be more than a pretty paint job on top of old ideas.
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