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Gritty realism and metal bending damage endow GRiD with an added sense of realism. Couple this with sensibly region segmented (Japan, Europe and America) challanges and you have the makings of a competitive driving experience - even for a Gran Turismo lover such as myself.
After popping GRiD into my PS3 I wait patiently whilst a very well produced start up video began. At this point I have to say that I am only really watching it for the benefit of this review, that was until glimpses of real looking tracks with single seater racers and touring cars appear and, wait a minute, was that a British track?
I was intrigued, so quickly set up the game and went in search of what I had seen. From the moment I sat in a Porsche 993RSR and lined up on the starting grid at Donnington Grand Prix Circuit I was hooked. I was in last place with the rest of the field speeding into the distance but I didn't care! For me this was a track day and I was enjoying the whole experience much more than I expected to.
The graphics are gritty and very real, especially coming fresh from Gran Turismo 5's (GT5) polished shiny version of reality. I felt comfortable immediately, as GRiD soon won me over with its ability to produce a real sense of actually being there. The eye level view enhances this with a superb feeling of speed; forcing you to turn into corners blind and keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is felt more on the dark portions of the 24hr races than anywhere else - which in themselves are an exhilarating addition to the game (and you will be glad to hear not actually 24hrs long).
I felt comfortable immediately, as GRiD soon won me over with its ability to produce a real sense of actually being there.
The genius of GRiD is that its various parts all work together to produce a genuine requirement to learn the tracks. As in real life, there is simply no other way to succeed than to put the hours committing each turn to memory. Some may balk at this, but for me it was bread and butter.
After some quick races, it was time to dig into the game proper. Here I was presented with a choice of three distinct racing cultures. Finally! I have long been annoyed by DiRT's mixed bag of vehicle and race types. Here thankfully they are nicely divided into Japan, Europe and America - something that really lets you get your teeth into one particular brand before being whisked off to another continent.
As you may have guessed, my favourites are the European GT cars and single seaters - noticing a pattern here? That said, some of the Japanese disciplines are fun and very challenging too. If you loved The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift then you'll love these races! That leaves the heavy v8 nonsense from America which I imagine are pretty interesting, particularly if you are of an American persuasion.
This local play is fleshed out by some good online modes. Unlike GT5's somewhat glitchy non-contact online races, GRiD provides a smooth, predictable experience that result in involving gameplay against well balanced opposition. There must be an option to turn off the headset equipped Spanish drivers who go on and on about the English driver holding them up, but unfortunately I haven't yet found it! It's like Alonso and Hamilton all over again! The online game reload time is faster than DiRT too, which is a real relief.
Unlike GT5's somewhat glitchy non-contact online races, GRiD provides a smooth, predictable experience
Probably the most compelling part of this game, and the most important feature dividing it from GT5, is the cars' ability to sustain damage and ultimately fail if crashed hard enough. Although not a new idea, GRiD does the best job of recreating realistic damage that I have seen. I have to confess it didn't take me long to discover how easy it is to completely destroy a car, but it was pleasantly reassuring that I would have to learn to drive carefully as well as fast in order to win. There is also a clever rewind feature that lets you having another go at critical moments. I am not really much of a believer in second chances but I guess as I progress through the game I may well use it to help me along.
All in all this is an excellent game. After the disappointment of DiRT I was a little sceptical, but happily my concerns turned out to be unfounded as GRiD is a racer's dream. Couple it with a decent wheel and a big screen and you are in for a treat and one that I would whole heartedly recommend.
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