Top positive review
It's Good, But Could Be So Much More
on 11 April 2017
I liked Grid once I got used to it, so when I dusted off my old PS3 I decided to get this one too. It turned out to be quite similar... a massive list of stuff that irritates me coupled with silly car physics, but I still enjoy playing it.
The career mode is well laid out, pretty much as you'd expect for this sort of game... win races, progress, pick another race to win, rinse, repeat. The event types are varied... ordinary races, elimination, time-trials, drift, touge, head-to-head, checkpoint and maybe something else I missed. Some are more fun than others, and it's very hard to find a difficulty level that gives you the same challenge from each of them.
The choice of cars is pretty good, although performance difference is limited and the car physics is very arcade-y and takes a bit of getting used to. In the early game you're stuck with heavy, wallowing drift buggies that aren't a lot of fun to drive, but after a bit of patience you encounter cars from all three types - drift, balanced and grip - and there's good fun to be had with drift (difficult mode) and grip (win button) type cars. Unfortunately, Codemasters accidentally wrote 'balanced' instead of 'useless, understeering lump', so that type is probably worth avoiding.
Track-wise, the game is hit-and-miss. The majority of the racing is done on city street circuits, which is disappointing, although there are some more enjoyable, challenging point-to-point tracks with good elevation changes and variety. Worst of the lot are Liveroutes - randomised city street tracks with no real indication of what sort of corner you're approaching, other than flashing direction arrows. The AI knows if it's a 45-degree, 90-degree, hairpin, etc... but you don't. Horrible idea.
The proper race tracks were an opportunity to make up for the city street disappointment, but with the whole world to choose from we ended up with Yas Marina (dreary and dull), Red Bull Ring (tiny bit boring), Brands Hatch Indy (I love Brands, but it doesn't work on arcade-style games and why couldn't we have the full circuit?) and Indy Speedway Infield (ugh). Algarve is more fun, but even that is usually ruined by being reversed.
The collision system is quite similar to original Grid, with all its pros and cons. Visually it's wonderful, but the physics are utterly bizarre. If you smash into a rival even at full speed, they nearly always behave like a solid lump of glued-down concrete. Even if you submarine under them in the Caterham and send them up in the air, they land like a cat and are back on line in an instant. If they hit the wall on their own, 99% of the time they carry on with no problems. But if they so much as tap you, you frequently end up facing the wrong way... and if you hit the wall, you get one of two outcomes. Either you carry on as if nothing has happened, or an invisible suitcase full of C4 detonates at a random position beside your car and flings you off in a totally unbelievable, physics-defying direction. The manner in which you hit the wall doesn't seem to matter... it's almost a coin-toss as to whether you get the "C4 effect" or not.
Overall it's one of those games that annoys me because it could be so much better, and because there's a lot wrong with it... but I still like it and it's still fun. Which, I suppose, is the whole point of games like this...