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Usually I am known for rather flaming comments and remarks. I even received a few warnings in the past for being 'too honest'. Perhaps the tone I chose back then was a little under the belt line for some to stomach and I also never hold back if someone picks a fight with me verbally on forums. All in all considered I felt I needed to review my own stance and analyse what I could do to help CodeMasters making the games I actually want to play.
As you can imagine by now-I would not go through all this effort in typing this up if Grid Autosport was a game I want to play or find rewarding.
I would simply leave a post somewhere commending CM for what they achieved. Now before I go into my review of Grid Autosport please keep in mind, that I am coming to my conclusions after playing CM games since close to a decade and racing games/sims since around 20 years. This IS important as it presents a viewpoint, which does not allow for a 'reset' of expectations.
Meaning: When a young kid nowadays sees Grid Autosport and has nothing or very little to compare it to he/she may say: Wow-this is great! However this is not the benchmark and never should be. Games' quality should be based on what has been there before and what does a new game deliver, which a predecessor did not. And let me be frank: Other than a few shinnies there is NOTHING new or rewarding here.
But let me begin my review and leave the conclusions to the end - please bear with me as this is a bit of a read. And CodeMasters please read this carefully or I fear your games will become worse and worse in my opinion.
GRID Autosport Review:
1. The game's goal/Gameplay
Codemasters set out to rectify the letdown fans of the Grid series felt
when Grid2 was released. Grid2 was rather shallow. Technically it was ok, but
physics were too simple, FFB did not work correctly, career mode was
non-rewarding and it had not really anything in common with Racedriver Grid.
Jeez, there was not even an in-car/cockpit view. Many felt, that Codemasters
betrayed what once upon a time (6 years ago) set standards for simcades. The
game itself was kind of enjoyable to drive but the gameplay outside the track
was shallow and dull. Way too thin. Grid1 had an awesome career mode-you could
have your own team, purchase cars to your liking (once earned), negotiate
sponsor packs that would find a way to the livery of your car(s), hire
teammates from list of applicants (each with special abilities in different
disciplines), there was a ladder of teams in single player where one would try
to climb up slowly over the years, cars could be painted-creating a team
identification-simply superb. It had depth, meaning, feel of reward and
longevity. It had it all gameplay wise.
What does Grid Autosport recoup from all of the above? The answer is sad and simple: NOTHING
Again keep in mind where the TRUE comparison needs to be made: Grid Autosport in comparison with Racedriver GRID and NOT Grid2. If compared with Racedriver Grid the career mode of GA is simply put a complete joke. Given certain features seem to showcase in online play and multiplayer race clubs, but....I for one don't want to play online. I just want a proper single player game I can race here and there after work with depth, intelligence and feeling of reward. This so far off the mark I truly cannot believe it.
Rating: 2/10 (only because I can choose what to race in career-otherwise it would have been 0-1/10)
Nice. Well done. I do like the graphics. What I do not like though is stuff like flicker in night races with smoke shadows turned on and such. Reminds of the days of flicker in the rain in your F1 series titles. Execution with bugs like this is rather poor-given (again remember expectation based on the past) you are working the more or less same graphics engine since 6 years (?).
Other than that the presentation is mighty fine though. NVidia already has good driver for it as well. So-not too bad here.
THEN I finally was able to use cockpit view again. Like many other wheel users I prefer cockpit mode, and since Codies announced it as broadly as a 'we listen to you' feature I was REALLY looking forward to it. What a shock. All you see is a juggled up blurry excuse of a dashboard, wheel, hands and display (which is completely blacked out). In actual fact I think I downloaded the Grid2 cockpit mod from RaceDepartment that looked almost identical. Please for the love of god all those saying this not so bad check out cockpit view images of Grid1 from 2008! This is completely unacceptable. Almost worse are the mirrors! Since years CM has not managed to create, proper, functional rear view mirrors. All of this destroys the immersion almost instantaneously. Why is that so hard? A shame. It really is. It leaves a bitter taste of an otherwise so brilliant presentation.
Rating: 4/10 (with PROPER cockpit view AND mirrors easily 8-9/10)
Nice touch with the ambience. Nice touch with the selection of info I can get from the engineer. Engine sounds - still dull and uninspiring. For once I would love to hear a decent engine sound in a game. Seems untouched-no one can do it it seems.
Rating 7/10 - it does the job ok
FFB is a complete joke. Either it clips fidelity due to settings being too high-or you don't feel anything because FFB is set too low. I tried to dial in my Fanatec kit (CSW and CSP) for at least two hours to find a setting with which I could really feel loss of grip and weight distribution, but to no avail. Control coding in a game of this nature (for any game really) has to be paramount. Yet CM treats wheel users like an unwanted cousin. Glad you actually allow us to use a wheel. Thank you for that.
Rating: 2/10 - a clear step back from FFB implemented in F1 2013
although the road rumble was ok.
Now it gets interesting and very short: simply the worst I have driven in years. Period. The cars understeer when they should oversteer and vice versa (especially noticeable on fast straights with strong steering inputs-try it yourselves you'll see). I understand this is a simcade, but that does not mean cars should behave wrongly-they should behave correctly but a little more forgiving. And that is all there is to physics. They are wrong all-round - end of story. Last example I give is: Open wheeler with massive rear wing drifting......that DOES NOT HAPPEN!
Rating: 1/10 (should be ZERO really)
Oh wow-from bad to worse. AI is still rubber-banding like they did years ago. Must be a feature not a bug it seems? I personally hate this and it does not help the immersion one bit. On top of that the AI tries more often than not to simply kill you when racing. They are not aggressive-they are STUPID!
No true race driver would ever take the risks like this AI. Ok it is a game and we need to have a balance between real and fun, but this is not fun guys. It would appear as if CM is simply taking the stance of: Multiplayer is what makes this game great. Give me the option-do not force me to do something I don’t want to or cannot do. Why bother having the AI in the first place then?
I should be to provide a challenge on a racetrack not to fight with them for survival-wrong genre.
Sorry, but this is not fun. (For me)
Rating: 1/10 (because they race ya-back to the basics huh?)
7. Final thoughts
With a lot of things CM needs to go back to the drawing board before another poor game gets released. When I say ‘poor’ I do not mean that there is no joy whatsoever. What I am trying to say is that this franchise has enormous potential left untouched or ignored. If you would have remade Grid1 with the new graphics of Autosport and left the gameplay unchanged bar the addition of a multiplayer co-op team and some elements of the racing clubs you would have had a 8/10 winner.
The way it is right now you will be driving a lot of old, long standing customers out of the house to invite seemingly unwitting and mediocre gameplay accepting crowds in. Is this the way CM wants to continue? Taking no pride in your products? Releasing them clearly too early and then charging a full AAA price? I hope this is not the case and you take my review serious. Bigger than a fan of Grid I am a fan of F1. If this is the style in which you will approach F1 2014 I can only shudder and better lose all excitement about its release just to prevent utter disappointment. Because in the F1 series the same thing applies: First game not technically the best, but ‘Live the Life’ was a cool yet somewhat unfinished and super-immersive feature and made F1 2010 for single players the best game out of the lot in my opinion. Why? Because it had meaning or it kept the illusion alive that it had meaning.
Either or the result of it all was a feeling of reward when playing the game, just like Grid1.
Grid Autosport has nothing of that.
Overall rating: 4/10
Have a great day and cross fingers for F1 2014. Autosport uninstall complete-signing off.