My name is Andrew and I have been dry-humping the future. Two weeks into the future, the end of May 2008, to be precise. 100% of my gaming time has been spent playing an 80% complete version of Race Driver: Grid
, and I am delighted to report that Codemasters look to be onto another winner.
History has yielded some great double acts, dear reader. Antony and Cleopatra, Morecambe and Wise, Millican and Nesbitt, Shari and Lambchop…the list goes on. Near the top of your author’s personal list of terrific twosomes is Codemasters and its racing games. I was hooked at the start of the noughties with the appearance of TOCA World Touring Cars
on the PlayStation (goes all misty-eyed and reverential…).
game was such a change from other car racing titles at the time, in that it was a near-visceral and literally fender-bending experience. You could almost smell the burning rubber as you tore around Silverstone or Vancouver, and the squeal of tyres became as familiar as birdsong. The great thing about TOCA
was its unpredictability of gameplay.
It was never less than entertaining and involving for sure; the real delight was that the races never played out the same way twice, and the AI of some of the opposition was wicked in the truest sense of the word. Anyway, Memory Lane is a nice place to visit, and there have been some great sights along the way, in the guise of, well, Codemasters’ other racers, Colin McRae
and the variations on the TOCA
theme. But you wanna know what the Grid
experience is all about, right? Right.
It’s an old habit, but as is typical when a Codies-spawned racer comes along, the accompanying paperwork is tossed aside in a desperate rush to get the disc in the console as quickly as possible. Let me try to express with letters what my initial impressions were: “Eeeeee! Ohhhh! Blimey!”.
Ahem. I don’t get excited about many things these days – too jaded, ‘seen it all before’ and all that – but the first sem*
around the San Francisco circuit in the Dodge Viper brought back that misty-eyed and reverential feeling again.
Okay, so I placed among the stragglers but at least I made it around the track without totally wrecking the car and being forced out of the race.
So I went around again, in the same car, on the same course. And this is when I remembered what I had personally been missing from racing games all this time; what was clearly wrong with the likes of Forza
and Gran Turismo Prologue
. No gentle nudging of your rear bumper here, dear. No sir, if you were shilly-shallying, you would find yourself a victim of what I can only describe as bullying.
The opposing drivers (nine of ‘em on the SF circuit) take no prisoners as they jockey for position. This means, as with previous games in the series, lots of collisions, bits of car all over the tracks (bits that stay in place as hazards until the last lap is over!) and plenty of platitudes and suggestions from the pit radio. Goodness me, they’re a bunch of brutes, these opponents, but learn to drive as they drive and you will go the distance.
*Sem – a personal colloquialism for a ride or a spin in a motor car.