Please note: this game was formerly titled Race Driver One.
Need for Speed: ProStreet was a sharp change of direction for the series, it added a new dose of realism that the franchise has never seen before. On top of that, it took the game off the streets, and into legalized events, with off-road/closed-courses to make it feel like more of a sport. Now, Codemasters' TOCA franchise has been doing that since day one, albeit with much more realism and authenticity behind it. So what's the reason for me even mentioning ProStreet in this GRID preview?
Well, when I took a look at the screenshots of GRID, it instantly reminded me of ProStreet's visuals, and when I noticed the drift competition, the distinction became quite clear. The clarity seems to be unraveling that GRID will essentially take what's made Need for Speed so popular, add that signature TOCA realism to the experience, and power it with the DiRT engine. So yes, that means you get to play a game that properly simulates what it's like to drift a car, and coupled with the Logitech wheels, we're hoping that the experience is sublime.
"GRID is all about the race," said Gavin Raeburn, Executive Producer, Codemasters Studios. "The next iteration of our DiRT engine combined with a decade of experience in developing driving games enables us to put players at the center of the action like never before. Damage, packed grids, intelligent opposition and unprecedented race day atmosphere will combine to deliver an experience like no other."
Now, Codemasters has also stated that GRID is an all new franchise for them, and so while it will deliver realism, it's also very much to-the-point. And so that means there will be a much smaller focus on tuning and customizing your vehicles. In fact, the official statement says that 'the game isn't about customization', so we're not sure if that means there will be no car-tooling altogether, or just that it isn't a primary focus. Codemasters states that the goal here is to make an "exciting" racing game.
So far, GRID does sound like it's going to deliver. With a number of ways to race, you'll also find yourself staging across three continents, everything from real-world circuits in Europe, to closed-courses within real-cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C., Detroit, Yokohama and more. The races between each continent will be distinct, as races in Japan will be focused around Japanese makes, drift racing, night racing, and mountainous roads. European races will be more about the sport, rather than the act, as you'll be set on real courses and drive cars such as the Aston Martin DB9 and Pagani Zonda. Where as venues in North America will pit you against V8 muscle cars. The car line-up for GRID will consist of both modern and classic cars, including concept cars such as the Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro Concept, so there should be plenty to choose from.
There will also be a bit of a story that unfolds drama, which in turn will create rivalries and aggression. No word on whether or not damage will be included, but Codemasters does state that the aggression between rivalries will cause for crashes. On top of that, since TOCA has always been well known for its damage model, and the DiRT engine already boasts powerful physics code for damage, we'll most likely see damage in the game.
Visually, there's no denying that GRID looks very striking. But, if history has taught us anything, it's that screenshots of Codemasters' games always need to be taken with a bit of salt. Still, some of the more in-game shots that display aliasing (jaggies) seem to be a great indicator of the high level of quality GRID is being developed with. Car models are definitely looking solid, and the environments are absolutely breathtaking to look at. But above all, framerate will ultimately be the Judge and the jury that decides whether or not this is a worthy title.
Being the gear-head that I am, I'm really looking forward to GRID. We're going to keep close tabs on the game as it approaches a mid-2008 release. Keep a look out for more screens and info.
12/27/2007 Arnold Katayev