As mentioned before, players will begin racing right away without any practice runs. The absence of a tutorial may appear to represent a narrow learning curve, but be assured that there most definitely is one. While the slope of such a curve will be dependent upon prior experience with other racing games, those who are either new to the genre or simply do not play driving games very often should find their way after a few short races.

When you're ready to race, players have the choice of entering the game's career mode, called GRID World, or selecting Race Day that allows players to customize the racing experience by choosing the venue, track, car, number of laps, and race type. These two options are accompanied by Multiplayer which can be plaed via LAN or the internet. In the single player campaign, or career mode, GRID World starts players as a newcomer to the racing scene. With only a few cars at your disposal, the goal is to collect enough prize money to begin your own racing team. From there, players will begin to acquire more cars with their winnings. In addition, sponsorships will become available as your reputation improves throughout the circuit. While going fast and finishing first is definitely on the agenda, finishing in second, third, and even fifth place in some events still puts cash in your pocket. 

GRID features a number of different events that will have players testing their endurance skills, speed in time trials, and even drifting. Along with these various event types are a number of lavish venues to race though. Players will take part in events scattered throughout various regions of the US, Europe, and Japan. The location will typically coincide with the type of racing event. For instance, drivers will participate in muscle car racing in Detroit, grand prix events in Milan, and drifting challenges in Yokohama Japan. There are numerous venues to experience during the course of the game, each of which is rendered beautifully and plays a major role in the overall satisfaction of the game.

The vehicle types in GRID are also matched to the racing events and locations. As players forge their way up the ladder and become a force to be reckoned with, more and more cars will become available. Here's the roster of the 43 different licensed vehicles you'll drive in the game.

Many gamers have come to expect the ability to customize their vehicles in racing games. However, GRID allows only cosmetic customization in which players will choose their team colors that will be applied to the body and trim of all of their cars. Thankfully, the ability to update these colors exists to keep players from growing weary of the seafoam green they may have chosen. While it may have taken some guts on behalf of the development team to exclude such a feature as vehicle customization, Codemasters has made the game's direction clear in their tagline, "It's all about the race." Even so, cars will not be completely void of bling as sponsors will place decals on your cars as you take them on.

The racing in GRID is absolutely top-notch. Every car feels and handles differently. For instance, the Lamborghini takes corners very efficiently with minimal break application, while the Aston Martin requires just the right combination of break and hand break to handle a track's twists and turns. We likely aren't qualified to judge the physics behind the cars, but they tend to do a good job at mimicking the feel of driving a race car. The game doesn't offer up the realism found in some of the hardcore racing sims, but it definitely has more realism than others in the genre like the Need for Speed series. Whether that's good or bad will depend on what you're after, but we found the overall feel to be quite enjoyable even if it may not appease the gearheads of the world.

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  • EddieTurner - Friday, August 08, 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. Reply
  • Nfarce - Friday, August 08, 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). Reply
  • Nfarce - Thursday, August 07, 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 08, 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 08, 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 07, 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. Reply
  • Nfarce - Friday, August 08, 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! Reply
  • im2good4u - Thursday, August 07, 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 Reply
  • honolululu - Thursday, August 07, 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 07, 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. Reply

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