GRID Demo: First Impressions

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Ok, so I finally got my grubby paws on the GRID demo and have given it a good spanking to see what’s in store for us.

Firstly, the visuals are truly stunning. It’s not very often that you load a game up and it lands up looking exactly like the impressive screenshots that you had seen on the net. Im not exactly sure what they have done, but I think the demo taught my 720p Bravia to display 1080p, because this is one of the sharpest and smoothest looking games I have ever seen.

As some of you know this game uses the EGO engine that was used for DiRT, however the magicians at Codemasters have somehow managed to make the game look even better and run at nearly twice the frame rate that DiRT was sporting. Pretty impressive, considering that on the DTM touring car track, you are pacing it around with roughly 20 other cars.

Not only that, but the presentation of the game is inspiring with beautiful menus, great replays, and a really gritty yet clean (Only Codemasters can pull that off) look to the game. The car damage is also really great, with bits and pieces flying off as well as textures coming in to indicate that you just scraped your really expensive car along a wall for 100m.

As far as the driving mechanics are concerned, if you are a die-hard Forza/GT fan, you might not like it. Keeping alone the same lines as the last couple of Race Driver games, the driving is a blend of arcade simplicity and simulation driving making it extremely accessible to any casual gamer that wants a fun driving game to play but couldn’t be bothered with sims like Forza, GT5 or the GTR games.

The demo comes with 3 modes, a DTM race on a GP circuit, a Drift session around a Japanese industrial area and a Muscle car race on a San Francisco street track. The DTM and muscle car race are both available for play online in the demo as well, sadly the drifting was not included as it is a solo session and not actually a race. I was really interested to see how the Drift mode was going to feel, as I have been disappointed with Drift modes in most of the driving games that have been available lately.

I can happily say that Codemasters seems to have nailed it. At first, I thought that it was quite tough, but I dedicated a bit of time to it to see if I could start mastering it. Once I had put some time into figuring out the mechanics of it all, I found the drifting to be very solid and rewarding, definitely the closest thing I have felt to real drifting in a game that has put a dedicated mode into the lineup.

Something else that I feel I need to mention, is the sound and use of rumble. The sound is incredible. Turbo’s whistle, engines roar, tires yelp as you hop your car over a bump and into a bit of a slide, it really is fantastic, even the crowd’s react to the event of the race. As for the use of rumble, it really has been put to use in the best of ways. The rumble has been so carefully utilised and tweaked so that if you run over a runoff strip, you can feel which side of the car is running wide and when your car lands after a bit of a jump, you can almost feel your engine rattling about in the engine bay.

I could actually go on about the little things in this game for ages, but since this is only the demo, I will leave all of that till we get our hands on the full game and can give it a proper review. At 795mb, its not a small download, but if you think that you are the type of gamer who might like this sort of thing, then download it and try it for yourself.

[Update] I realised that I didn’t mention anything about the game’s Flashback ability. If you land up driving yourself into a wall and writing off your car, you are able to go into a very nifty replay mode where you can reverse time and then continue from a previous moment to try it out again. The amount of flashbacks you get are based on the difficulty level. RaceDriver: Sands of Time?

Last Updated: May 9, 2008

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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