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Grid Autosport Preview: Five Times The Racing Fun


Why shouldn’t every gamer be able to feel like a professional racer?

Codemasters thinks they should, which is why Grid Autosport is attempting to be all things to all drivers. Described at Bandai Namco’s Global Gamers Day as a title that “gets back to Codemasters’ heritage,” the title is headed to PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on June 24.

The high concept behind Grid Autosport is to remove the management aspects and other extraneous features from many driving games and concentrate solely on the racing experience. “Authentic but fun” is the goal, so the game occupies the middle ground between simulations and arcade racers.

It also gives players an almost unprecedented amount of choices in how they race by offering five different disciplines: Touring Cars, Endurance Racing, Open Wheel, Street Racing and Tuner Competitions. Here are the buzzwords used by Codemasters to describe each type:

  • Touring Cars – packed grids, trading paint, race weekends
  • Endurance Racing – long races, night races, tire wear
  • Open Wheel – precision racing, standard spec, slipstreaming
  • Street Racing – aspirational cars, tight city roads, aggressive racing
  • Tuner Competitions – car upgrading, time attack, pro drift

The developer showing off gameplay in Las Vegas immediately made a mockery of the precision part of Open Wheel, slamming into competing cars. He did, however, show off the game’s detailed damage models that impact both appearance and performance.

In any case, the single-player career mode allows players to choose their own goals, competing in non-linear fashion across as many or as few disciplines as desired. The object is to get signed by increasingly better teams to drive better cars, but other than that, the racing is the focus. Competitions can range from two events to full seasons of 16 races, and the practice and qualifying sessions on race weekends are optional.

Within races, drivers can get real time feedback from their crews, order teammates to help them and use a flashback mechanic to rewind time and fix mistakes. A variety of difficulty levels and driver assists can be used to tailor the on-track experience to any set of preferences.

Online play will include some more typical racing game features like leveling up specific cars to unlock upgrades. Cars will also need to be maintained, and with enough miles under the hood, there may need to be a decision about whether to run a powerful but fragile vehicle or retire it to the garage for good.

Codemasters wouldn’t say how many real world cars will make appearances, not wanting to get sucked into the numbers game or compete with even bigger budget games like the Forza or Gran Turismo series. They did say the selection would vary appropriately by discipline, so there will be more choices in Street Racing than in Open Wheel.

Lots of options for lots of races — sounds like a good way to spend the summer, no?