I'm the first to say, I'm not much of a racer, not even a hardcore racer. I did dabble in my teen years with Gran Tourismo but all in all I wasn't that into racing games. However, when given the chance to review Grid Autosport, I began to return to that place of when I once worked for Codemasters, and whether the past 5 years have changed them. I remembered their previous titles either as simulations of the Formula One franchise or the over-the-top arcade stylings of Dirt 2 and 3, and both, while interesting, never kept me behind the wheel for too long.
Upon loading up the game I was greeted with a very clean sophisticated menu which showed off the graphical capability of Codemasters own EGO Engine, with lighting and modelling shown off to their utmost while given a simple slick menu to navigate. The option to alter the difficulty and gameplay, from hardcore driving simulation to casual racer and anywhere in between, reside here.
Career Mode firstly drops you into a race as a tutorial, with controls provided for you on screen at the right moments. You are asked to fill in your details such as name, age and nationality, as well as pick a personalised audio name, adding a nice personal touch. The purpose of the career mode is to lead teams to the top of the table in 5 diciplines of racing; Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner and Street. They offer various driving styles and tactics paired with appropriate cars and circuits, and each with their own rules to abide by. You sign contracts with racing teams, each with team mates with differing stats, and must drive your way to the top.
Now on to the racing experience itself, where I am greeted with the Flashback feature which has appeared in numerous other Codemasters Racing titles, and now it is a signature to such games. While it felt out of place in the Formula One racing titles to me, although very useful, here it sits comfortably and it's a nice way to ensure you aim for that perfect line. I soon became grateful for this feature with the aggressive AI, although this may have been down to my poor ability. The racing itself is very fluid, with a pretty accurate representation of the car's weight and handling in a casual simulation fashion, and should you cut corners there are penalties as there should be.
As you drive as part of a team there is a strategic element of requesting your team mate to drive in 5 different ways; Attack and Push command your fellow driver to advance and take places, Balanced maintains a regular driving style and both Hold and Defend set your team mate to try to stay where they are or prevent others overtaking them. Add this to the words of encouragement and statistics from the team engineer, it made me care about reaching for that next place on the grid. Further to this is the customization of cars parameters, from suspension and engine power to brakes and tyres. A very deep interface for all the petrol-heads out there.
Graphically the game is superb with beautiful lighting, well modelled cars and environments, and accurate sound.
While I did not get to test the Racenet feature, I would assume it would be very similar to previous Codemasters Racing games, adding overall emersion to the game.
Grid Autosport offers a nice solid racing experience with the graphical prowess to boot. While it is not Forza or Gran Tourismo, it doesn't try to be. It is what it is; a Codemasters Racing Game with deep customization and emersion, and that's the way many people like it.