How daring the guys at Codemasters have been to launch GRID Legends just days away from Gran Turismo 7. While it is true that these are different games in terms of approach, it would be naive to say that at least some elements do not exist. overlapping, beyond the automotive theme. That said, the English studio went ahead with the release of a game that does indeed have some nuances of its own, but is that enough to compete in such a challenging period?
In the world of racing games there are two subcategories: simulation games -whose name says it all- and arcade games, more focused on fun (and well, karts, which are a separate matter). GRID Legends is an arcade game, albeit with some realistic elements. It is a traditional racing title -that is, it is not an open world- that allows you to drive hundreds of different real cars in dozens and dozens of circuits, both genuine and fictional. So far, there is nothing outstanding and, in fact, that is perhaps one of the problems, but let’s go in parts.
The first thing that amazes about GRID Legends is precisely the variety and presentation of its tracks. This is a game that is not satisfied with the typical repertoire of real circuits because, although there are some, a good part of the experience involves racing in some of the most iconic cities in the world that go from the heart of London, passing through the Plaza Red in Moscow, Dubai, Havana, Barcelona and more. Each of these tracks boasts of incorporating recognizable monuments and, in addition to their appearance, adds various dynamic elements that make them veritable postcards, with fireworks, lasers, waves crashing against the boardwalk, sand, snow, etc. This is a resounding success of the game that provides extraordinary variety and is very satisfying visually. Running in the snow or rain at night is absolutely spectacular with no performance hits.
The first thing that amazes about GRID Legends is precisely the variety and presentation of its tracks
But before we get further into technical issues, it is important to talk about the structure. One of the fundamental novelties of GRID Legends is its Story mode, where for about 5 hours, you will be told the adventure of “Number 22”, a rookie runner who arrives at the Seneca team in their moment of greatest need to save them the season and something else. Drive to Glory is a quintessential sports tale, with protagonists resilient in the face of adversity and confident, arrogant opponents. Codemasters tries to emulate the style of the reality show Drive to Survive, but it falls short, since the script is perceived as stiff and, on top of that, they opt for a live-action production nuanced with CGI backgrounds. In theory, the result should be a miniseries with the quality standard of The Mandalorian -a show that also used the same technology of projected environments- but in practice, what the player sees are about 30 cinematics with that slightly uncomfortable soap opera flavor that In fact, it also undid Need for Speed’s live-action story mode a few years back. In that sense, Codemasters did better with F1 2021, which also debuted a story mode, but 100% in CGI. This allowed them to be more consistent in the presentation to avoid the feeling of a play.
That being said, this Drive to Glory also has its virtues, it gives you a very comprehensive and agile run through all that GRID Legends has to offer in terms of variety, ranging from traditional track racing to new electric car competitions. and the new multi-class races, where you can see sports models race against trailers or pick ups. That folksy philosophy of mixing skills is something very attractive about story mode, but it is also a double-edged sword because it contrasts too much with Career mode.
Career mode is the complete opposite. You see, GRID Legends is the name of the game, but also the name of the championship that all the races within the title are part of. The story mode is, literally, a summarized version of that championship, seasoned with cinematics that, although mediocre, serve as a good change of pace and even a small reward, an indicator of your progress. Career mode is, shall we say, the boxy heavy version of that. Zero cinematics and many, many more competitions, the only incentive of which is that it allows you to run your own team, although “managing” is a generous word, because if you imagine anything remotely similar to what is in F1, you are going to be disappointed. What you do here is invest money in buying perks for your partner and your mechanic, which translate into slightly cheaper repairs, moderate increases in earnings, lower-cost spare parts, more juicy earnings for your teammate, as well as the option to give you some pointers in competition, but none of this is super exciting or essential because, first of all, the races are generally easy and the Nemesis system, which we will talk about later, has a barely noticeable role in the dynamics of the races. careers. In short, it is very, very superficial team management.
Another problem with this modality is grinding. Career mode is divided into 4 levels: Rookie, Semi-Pro, Professional, and Gauntlet. Within each of these tiers, there are various car categories and within each car category are a dozen events that can involve multiple races of up to 5 laps -wow, this is an automotive matryoshka. Many elements of the matryoshka are locked, so you have to run, run and run some more to progress in the tototota season of GRID Legends. Usually, just winning competitions is enough to advance and unlock new events, but there are some with specific conditions that force you to repeat races. The result is a fastidious grind. And it is that the problem is not the volume as such, which could even be classified as a virtue for replayability purposes, but that there is not something that seasons or shakes up the formula a bit. You have your garage, but collecting the most iconic cars is not an incentive either, since Ferraris, Porsches, muscle cars, Hondas NSX, Fords GT, they all come scrambled almost from the beginning. There is no option to just look at them and customization is limited to pre-designed decal patterns and color changes.
With the controller in hand, things satisfy, but they don’t amaze. Don’t expect very realistic driving in GRID Legends, it’s an arcade, the emphasis is on drifting, but each type of vehicle feels a bit different and the controls are responsive. However, we have a couple of specific complaints. The first is that Codemasters was very conformist in taking advantage of DualSense. The triggers stiffen under braking, but overall vibration is super-moderate, and that lessens the immersion, and feeling of power, that getting behind the wheel should give you. The audio suffers from the same thing, like the roar of the engines lacks grrrrr, if you know what we mean and to top it off, in Story mode, the races go with music, so sometimes you can’t hear the revs to do the speed change, which is a bit annoying. And well, a third complaint would be for driving in rain or snow, which is not distinguished enough from the rest of the weather conditions.
We could say that the focus of the races in GRID Legends is the collision and for example the count of runners and the Nemesis system are enough. Unlike past installments in the series, Legends handles 22-driver races, which lends itself to chaos that is equally enjoyable and frustrating. To say that it is a game that promotes respectful and clean driving would be outright lying. The corners are a chore to start with and on some tight circuits, things can get as congested as the entrance to a subway car at rush hour. There was even a race where we had to restart because all the cars got stuck.
Codemasters is so aware of this that for this reason it implements the Nemesis system, although the truth is that it is a resource that lacked prominence. This mechanic spawns rivalries with those pilots you’ve hit. You’d expect this to mean aggressive driving, crashing, and dirty maneuvering from the AI, but on track it only means a timid attempt to get in your way. It is a good idea, but they could have raised a couple of lines because even on Hard level it is an element that you barely perceive regardless of the fact that you have made enemies with half of the runners on the track and, for the same reason, all that to give instructions to your driver becomes absolutely unnecessary, although those commands (slowing down, putting pressure on them, etc.) are an attractive concept that would be nice to see in F1.
Speaking of crashes and such, something that we really liked were the breakdowns and accidents of the AI. In a genre where, for the past few years, the focus has been on emulating human gameplay styles, Codemasters instead introduces bugs and randomness that injects an element of unpredictability that is highly appreciated and even spectacular to watch. You’re in second place, the race is almost over, and all of a sudden, bam! the driver in front has a tire burst. Or you are behind the pack of cars, when in the distance you see a super accident with rollovers and everything. The collision physics is moderate, but superior to that of Gran Turismo or Forza, so you will often see hoods and other parts of other cars blown off. It’s very, very refreshing and fun to watch.
We are sure that in Codemasters’ vision, the main seasoning or the decisive factor was going to be the online game, which allows any event to be played in the company of human players. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be enough to fill everyone’s careers. We tried and most of the time we had to run with the AI and hopefully one or two human players. It’s not worth it because the side effect is that the races take a long time to start, waiting for participants who are not going to arrive, and you can forget to pause or use the rewind button if you make a mistake. In multiplayer mode formally, there are two options: the quick race and the seeker. But it’s the same, the fast race will get you into competitions where there are one or two additional humans and 20 bots, so the best thing to do is go to the browser and look for those sessions where there are many players… and that’s it.
As far as localization is concerned, GRID Legends comes in Iberian Spanish, both for texts and for voices and, well, the complaint is the same as always: this is very distracting, especially when you play a story mode, already a bit stiff in itself. their actions and situations.
We did not experience any performance issues
Art direction doesn’t usually play a prominent role in racing games, but in this case, it does. We already talked at the beginning of the very interesting concepts that GRID Legends handles, in terms of locations, but on a graphic level, things are also very good. The car interiors don’t compare to Forza or Gran Turismo, but they are to an acceptable standard, as are the bodywork and materials, and as we said, we didn’t experience any performance issues, playing on PS5. In fact, we didn’t see any bugs, although the game did crash once. Wow, it’s a technically solid game.
GRID Legends is a good racing game and has interesting ideas, but it seems that Codemasters bet everything on Driven to Glory, a story mode that ended up being inconsequential, and their solution for the rest of the content was to put padding without passion, without give that extra Due to the volume of content, we have no complaints, but that is no longer enough when you have to pay 1,400 pesos or more for a game. You’re going to finish story mode, more or less satisfied, and career mode is going to bore you in a few hours, with nothing really special saving the formula. This is one of those games that make a good gift for someone who likes cars, precisely because they won’t have to pay for it, but if you’re thinking of buying it yourself, you’d better wait for it to drop in price or to be listed as reward for any of the services. In terms of racing, GRID Legends does not reach the podium, although it does not finish last either.