Race Driver: GRID (PC)

by Eddie Turner on August 7, 2008 2:00 AM EST

In June of this year, Codemasters released yet another game devoted to fans of those things that have four wheels. With extensive experience in the genre, starting with 1999's Touring Car Challenge to the highly acclaimed DiRT: Colin McRae Off-Road released in 2007, the developer/publisher continues to pick up speed with GRID. GRID is not your typical rally style racer, nor is it the street racer that many might label it after seeing a few screenshots of the game. Instead, GRID borrows from both racing styles and finds its niche somewhere in between. Does it work? Read on to find out.

Upon starting the game for the first time, players will be prompted to enter their first and last name that will appear in the game's HUD next to your position in the race. To take this a step further, GRID allows you to choose from a fairly extensive list of names (male and female) that the in-game announcer will use during audible communication with the player. While the name Eddie was not immediately available, Edward was chosen in its stead. Since it's highly unlikely that they will have every name, you can also select from a variety of handles instead. This is just one successful implementation that lends itself to the player's immersive experience with GRID. Once this information is squared away, the game immediately tosses the player to the wolves with no available tutorial.

As most PC gamers have discovered, racing games offering a high level of realism are best played with either a racing wheel or a gamepad. With controls that require touch sensitivity, a keyboard simply does not allow for the degree of functionality that is required. In fact, getting the game to function at all with the coveted combo may prove to be an impossible feat. With this in mind, recommended racing wheel peripherals include the Logitech Formula Force EX, which is available in the UK for a retail price of £49.99, and the Logitech MOMO Force Feedback Racing Wheel available in the states for around $79.99 depending on the retailer.  And, of course, there's always the more expensive option for those without a budget.  In this case, the Logitech G25 that retails for upwards of $250, again depending on the retailer, might be the wheel of choice.  Which ever wheel you choose, the game's options menu will help you tweak its sensitivity to your satisfaction.

While steering wheels are great, the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows has a preset in the game's options menu and it works very well. This controller is an excellent alternative to racing wheels and offers great performance with GRID. Third party gamepads are also supported and should work seamlessly.

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  • EddieTurner - Friday, August 8, 2008 - link

    Sadly, there are no options for dedicated servers. That doesn't mean there will never be. Looks like the folks in the official forum are shouting for them, so we'll see.
  • Nfarce - Friday, August 8, 2008 - link

    Sadly, that's one of the downfalls in console online gaming. You have a lot more little immature pottymouthed snot nosed teen punks to deal with (IMO anyway). My online PC gaming experience has always been more adult like - maybe that's to be expected when one can spend upwards of $2,000 on a gaming rig vs. paying $500 for a console from bagging groceries all summer and then using daddy's big screen TV in the basement (or even better getting one free from Santa - the amount of immature punks skyrocketed after last year's holiday season on Motorstorm online alone for obvious reasons).
  • Nfarce - Thursday, August 7, 2008 - link

    Hey thanks for reviewing the PC version of this. I have a PS3 but have not downloaded the demo for it. As someone else here said, it's the debate between getting the PC version for less or the PS3 version for more. I guess I'll have to download the demo now and make the decision based upon what you wrote. :p

    I use an older but still good Microsoft Sidewinder FF wheel & pedal setup for my PC racing games (one that's not compatible w/PS3 games unfortunately), and generally prefer my PC racers to be more hard core like GTR2.

    With the exception of GT5 Prologue, my PS3 racing games are more arcadish, but fun with the controller (Motorstorm, RR7, & NFS Carbon - NASCAR 08 was a disaster and has gathered dust for the past 10 months). This game will be a tossup for me on PC/realism playability vs. PS3/arcadish playing (I'm sorry, but I just can't get into realistic driving with a hand held controller - rumble or not).

    In any event, I'm glad that AT is mixing things up a little and offering a gaming review these days every now and then. It's a nice change up, but I'm sure you guys get flack for doing it from some.
  • azides - Friday, August 8, 2008 - link

    Hey, I have a MS Sidewinder FFW too! I am upgrading my 4 year old PC from Athlon 64 3000+ with XP, Visiontek X800-128, couple of raptors (WD360) hence I play Colin McRae Rally 2005 (!!) ... I don't game too much, so I don't upgrade often.

    So I have a question ... as I like motor games ... will the wheel work with Vista? (I am a sucker for the task switcher eye candy, though I appreciate that it can be achieved in XP). I understand MS stopped supporting the wheel when XP was released, is this still so? Are there any 3rd party utilities? It is a good wheel.

  • Nfarce - Friday, August 8, 2008 - link

    Yeah those MS sidewinder gaming devices were actually very good and built well (I have two joysticks too that still work) - and for the price I paid for all of them, I had expected them to last. I've used that wheel under both XP Pro and Media Center for years. Just because MS says they stop supporting something doesn't mean it won't work.

    When I plug it in, the XP drivers pick it up and even bring up the driver utility setup window just like the CD it came with has. As for whether the Sidewinder wheel will work on Vista, I don't know - I don't see why it shouldn't. But I know of no 3rd party utilities. I guess I'll find out this fall when I build a new rig on Vista 64 and make my current XP gaming rig a backup gamer.

    In any event, I'm looking to upgrade to the Logitech G25 so I can use it on the PS3 as well as the PC. (I downloaded the PS3 demo on this game last night and it looks pretty sweet - especially the replays and damage graphics). There's just something about racing on a 1080p 46" LCD instead of a "little" 22" LCD that is fun too!
  • EddieTurner - Thursday, August 7, 2008 - link

    Yeah, there's been some flack. We're not worried though. There's no shortage of great hardware articles. It's just nice to explore other areas within the same realm. After all, if it weren't for games, this site may not even be here! Anyway, I love MotorStorm. Can't wait for Pacific Drift. Hopefully there'll be more tracks right out of the box.
  • Nfarce - Friday, August 8, 2008 - link

    Yeah that game looks really cool. I can't wait! Newsflash: the Logitech G25 steering wheel is on back order until September at all major retail outlets from Amazon to Best Buy!
  • im2good4u - Thursday, August 7, 2008 - link

    I do not have any racing wheel and only using Logitech Rumble pad 2, and my problem is that the controller is not working good. The sensitivity is just too high! Tried to lower it through in-game settings and Logitech Profiler settings and the sensitivity is still too much, its like tapping the analog stick a little bit and the car would turn full. Anybody else having this problem? BTW, using retail
  • honolululu - Thursday, August 7, 2008 - link

    My logitech dual stick works great. Sensitive? Yes.

    It took a while to get it through my head that you can't just floor it out of a corner. You've got to ease on that gas. Makes me want to drive a Viper V10 in real life. The power must be insane.
  • im2good4u - Thursday, August 7, 2008 - link

    I'm referring about the turning sensitivity, for example, in NFS, if you move the stick halfway, the wheels wuld nly turn halfway, whereas in GRID, even the slightest movement wuold make the wheels turn in full.

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