GRID Legends

After its 2019 reboot, the GRID series returns and – wait for it – it’s legendary! Well, it’s called GRID Legends, at any rate.

An evolution of that relatively recent reboot, the big new feature is a documentary-styled story mode called Driven to Glory. Very much riffing on the F1 based Drive to Survive streaming series, you’re the new blood on Team Seneca, simply known as ‘Driver 22” (hint: you can pop into the menu at pretty much any time and change your name to something less numeric). There’s full motion video and real acting and such, so a budget has definitely been hurled at it.

In this one, you race in several different disciplines, from the usual classics such as touring cars and open wheelers through to pickup trucks (hate those things!) and a shiny new addition, electric vehicles. Basically, the 36 races of the story mode serve as a great tutorial-like taste test of most of what’s in store, with the earnest acting of a fairly hackneyed plot offering up some entertainment between races. Don’t like the ham? Skip it – the option is there.

Otherwise, the typical career mode features, offering up various racing disciplines in a series of 250 events on assorted tracks both legit and fictional. Aussies will be pleased to find the return of both Bathurst’s legendary Mount Panorama circuit and Sydney Motorsport Park. Suzuka is back, as are Brands Hatch and Indianapolis, while London and Moscow join the list of street circuits that also sees the return of the likes of Paris and Havana. In all there are 130 routes across 22 different locations, so there’s plenty of variation.

Or is there…? When you’re fanging around at the sorts of speeds that would see your driver’s license committed to the annals of history on non-fantasy roads, very little of the scenery stands out unless you look for it – still, we guess it’s nice for spectators.

Skewed very much towards arcade-styled racing when entering the game, GRID Legends errs on the side of fun – taking some of those bends at these speeds on a real-life track would likely result in massive, fiery, blood-splattering death. It never claims to be a simulator, and to be honest we’re glad that it’s skewed towards fun out of the box (physical media FTW!). That being said, the default medium difficulty is astonishingly easy – bash and crash through a few turns and if you’re not in first then you’re doing something really wrong. Master drifting around corners and you’ll win even bigger, to the point that it soon gets boring without upping the difficulty.

Mercifully, those who wish to serious it up a lot more have a raft of options to play with to drag things back to more real-world behaviours. To each their own, and it’s great that all types of racers are catered for.

GRID Legends

The recently introduced ‘Nemesis System’ also makes a return. Basically, niggle a racer one too many times and they’ll crack it with you, subsequently doing their utmost to mess you up – for a few seconds at least, until you leave them as a distant speck in your rear-vision mirror. Bwah-ha-ha!

If you’re more into multiplayer rather than battling sometimes questionable AI racers, then you’re well catered for – as long as you have, or are prepared to set up, an EA Account. Assuming that you have that sorted, the new hop-in multiplayer is quite cool, pretty much delivering what it says, and killing that boring-as downtime waiting for a new race to commence. Wherever an online race is at, you can pop in and take over an AI racer, which can be super-fun if you want to give a friend who’s racing a little, ahem, extra challenge…

Another new feature is the Race Creator. It doesn’t give the freedom of the DIRT games, where you can make entire tracks up, but instead lets you, well, create races from the parts on-hand. Pick a track, any track, then the vehicle type, weather conditions, number of laps and a few other variables then let rip. Want to race an entire Bathurst 1000 in classic Mini Coopers? Go for it – just don’t expect to do much else for half a day. These creations can be played by single players or in multiplayer.

“Want to race an entire Bathurst 1000 in classic Mini Coopers? Go for it – just don’t expect to do much else for half a day.”

Being the first GRID on new-gen consoles, expectations were high for a visual feast. To be honest, nobody is going to have to pick up their jaw from the floor, as it’s really only a slight improvement over the last generation’s iterations, but we do get lovely smooth 60fps with HDR, and some effects look more impressive than others. An example being Bathurst (yes, we’re obsessed with the joint, having spent one Sunday each year glued to the telly since, ooh, about birth) in relentlessly bucketing rain.

Where the new-gen features come nicely into play is via, in this case, as we played on PS5, the DualSense controller’s tricks. There’s plenty of fun with rumble, and varying feedback on the brake and accelerator peda- erm, triggers. If you have 3D audio-supporting headphones then you’re in for a targeted sonic treat. It works well through a surround sound speaker system too, but when it’s in your head it’s something quite special.

As arcade racers go (with sim options if you want ’em), if you value gameplay over realistic-looking whiz-bang raytraced graphics then GRID Legends just could be your international passport to racing pleasure.

GRID Legends is available now on PS5, Xbox and PS4.star-4

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Read our interview with GRID Legends associate creative director Steven Brand.