Posted on 08 Oct 2019 by K-putt

Grid (2019)

The Defence

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Action, Casual, Racing, Simulator, Sport
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 11 Oct 2019

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 2130
AMD FX 4300
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GT 640
AMD HD 7750
HDD: 100 GB
DirectX: 12
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 8600K
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
AMD Radeon RX 590
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 100 GB
DirectX: 12
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Five years and a whole generation of consoles lay between Grid (2019) and the previous Grid: Autosport. Since then, Codemasters made 6 Formula 1 games, 3 Rally games, Onrush, 3 other games and acquired most of the staff from Sony’s former exclusive Evolution Studios (known for Driveclub and the Motorstorm series). That’s a whole lot of stuff happening from 2014 till now.  Did I notice these 5 years of advancements in the new Grid game? Can it stand against games like Forza, Need for Speed or even Gran Turismo? Let me try and answer that for you.

The Trial

Since the announcement back in May this year I have been looking forward to the reboot of this franchise. Though, not sure why it’s called a reboot since it feels rather familiar to the previous Grid games. It’s still a mix between arcade and simulation, but the focus obviously lying on the arcade side of things. With its amazing crash deformation and graphics in general, the previous titles knew how to differentiate themselves from the competition. But since then Forza Horizon, Need for Speed or The Crew haven’t been dormant for 5 years and pretty much filled that void left by the absence of Grid. Open world racers with loads to explore and different terrains to race on are now what people want when it comes to arcade/simulaty racers. And, unfortunately, Codemasters stuck to their guns with Grid (2019).

If you played any of the previous Grid games, you pretty much know what to expect from the new one. You choose a series to race on, let’s go with “Stock – Muscle” as an example, and once the event is started you get the option to do a hotlap for your starting position, tune your car or start the race right away. Of course you tune your car for the specific track and then do the hotlap so you don’t start from the back of the grid. But starting from the back isn’t a huge issue if you don’t drive on the ‘very hard’ difficulty. Easier difficulties and the AI seems to be more of a pushover and an obstacle on the racing line. But of course, it’s not a simulator so the AI is fine being either aggressive or an obstacle. Let’s have some fun on the race track with crashes and contact, right?

However, it feels like crashes take a backseat in the new Grid (2019). There aren’t many the AI does, and if they do, it’s not very eventful. A couple sparks, something that looks to be paint chips and a car that’s facing the wrong side of the road with minor deformation. Even in the original Grid game, the camera was shaking like mad. The cars were spinning around or even rolling over. The sounds were crunchy and the graphics had impact. You had to maneuver around a huge puff of smoke and hope nothing is behind that smokey wall or else you end up crashing as well. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of a crash in Grid (2019), you can use that rewind button that Codemasters pretty much invented. You couldn’t even rewind cassette tapes before Codemasters came along and invented it for the original Grid! Slow motion rewind, pause, different camera angles. It was all there and really what made the original Grid stand out in those moments. Looking at the carnage unfolding in slow motion was just a joy to watch. But no more! It’s all gone! You can still rewind mind you. But it’s now exactly the same as in Forza Motorsport. You press the button, it rewinds. If you press the button again, it’ll stop rewinding and you can try again without crashing. That’s it. So the crashes that do happen in Grid (2019) are a very fleeting experience.  I imagined some fantastical crashes that’s made possible with the current generation of hardware. But nope. The 11 year old original Grid still seems to hold the crown for those. Even the replay cameras seem to be better in the original. Photomode is also missing from the replays in this reboot.

You could mistake it for Midnight Club at times.

But we didn’t play Grid just for the amazing crashes, right? The racing had to be fun as well. Driving physics, a pushy AI, great graphics and cool race tracks with various driving modes. The whole package felt just right. Wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the reboot makes up in those things somehow. The driving certainly feels ok. Even tho almost every car seems to be rear wheel drive and oversteers every single time you turn into the slightest corner. But it’s an arcade game and the cars gotta drift for some reason. Fine by me. After about a dozen races I got the message and adjusted my driving style accordingly. Gentle on the throttle in the … everywhere. Gentle with the steering and gentle on the brakes. It’s quite similar to a simulator in that regard. But the cars just don’t behave like in a simulator. It’s an odd mix. Always oversteering no matter the drivetrain. You have a tiny window where you can counter that oversteer and get the car straight again, but if you mess that up, the car just goes in a rather strange way. Almost like it’s designed to just spin even though it should be possible to recover from it. So while fun can be had driving these cars, i’m not sure I will enjoy driving ‘em for very long.

I started off playing the game on the hard difficulty but switched to very hard after I won every race leading by several seconds. So before I went to the higher difficulty I started just doing the races without doing a hotlap. Starting from the back of the field and trying to get the highest possible position from there. But even then I was leading the race after the first lap. The AI didn’t put up much of a fight. On very high it’s a bit more challenging to fight your way through the field in a somewhat clean way, but it’s still mostly possible. And with me driving rather cleanly, I didn’t notice much of the nemesis system that the new Grid (2019) introduced. If you nudge an opponent too much or too often, they’ll get angry at you and will crash you back every chance they get. Unfortunately for me, they never get the chance apart from a couple times when I wanted them to catch up to me. And indeed, my nemesis pushes me around more than usual. Pushing me out of corners or rightout crashing into me. So now you can experience the anger of online players in your singleplayer game! But then again, if I play normally, which means not crashing into everyone, I never get to see that nemesis system in action.

So far, not so… good, eh? But hey, it keeps on giving. The game ain’t a looker. It’s not ugly by any means. But the graphical fidelity doesn’t get close to the open worlds of Forza Horizon 4 or even 3. In fact, i’d say the game doesn’t look a whole lot better than Grid:Autosport from the previous generation of consoles. Now there’s volumetric lighting which adds a lot to the atmosphere and visuals of Grid (2019) compared to the previous title from 2014. But it’s also from 2014. And even open world racing games look better now. Of course, one is a staple console seller title from Microsoft with, what i’d imagine, unlimited budget and the other one.. isn’t. But when even games from Codemasters themselves look better, it’s a valid gripe to have. The racetracks look desperate to get something going on in the background. There’s balloons on the finish line every time you start or win a race. Which does look nice. But apart from that, it’s static everywhere. Where are the leaves that fall down from the trees or get thrown up from the streets? Little pools of water being transformed into mist when you drive over them? Even just drones with flashlights taking videos of you far up in the sky. There’s the odd helicopter that’s flying over you and you notice its shadows. But that’s all there is.

It's not damage, it's streamlining.

After completing about 35 events, I wondered when I will start seeing different event types. Because all I got so far was races, sprint races and time attack… races. There was no drifting, crash stock car or endurance. It’s just races with different types of cars. Quite a huge step back from the previous games. In fact it’s such a huge step back, that I wonder why it’s called Grid in the first place. It’s not arcade enough to be called a true arcade game, but it’s also not really fun if you want to go at the game with a simple simulator mindset. It seems like Grid (2019) doesn’t really know what it’s supposed to be or that it’s not the first game in the franchise. This being a early review copy, i also can’t really test the online part of the game. What i can see however, is that it’s also very barebones. You can either join a lobby, or create one yourself. You can choose the car class, racetracks and the amount of rounds you wanna drive. There’s no tournaments, no weekly challenges… nothing.

At least when it’s raining the game starts to shine a bit more and the driving physics make more sense as well. It at least explains why the cars are driving like they have pudding for wheels. The rain is also addressing some of the issues I have with the visual presentation. It adds some dynamic elements to the screen like raindrops on the lense or just the rain in general. But it’s nowhere near the crazy rain graphics of the now also 5 year old Driveclub. Which I remind you, is made by the developers Codemasters snatched up after they were let go by Sony. But even in the rain I wonder how loads of details are missing. The raindrops on the car stay the same and never change no matter your speed. Or, like in the gif above, the windshield wipers pushing the water to the side which is almost missing in this here Grid (2019). There’s not the attention to detail that i’d expect from a Codemasters game.

This lack of polish is unfortunately running through the entire game like a dog smearing its arse over a carpet. There are no videos introducing you to the various driving classes like stock car, open wheel or GT racing. I can’t even remember the game explaining some of the team management systems to me. In the main menu under ‘Player Profile’ you find ‘Team’ and there you can choose from one of the drivers that you’ll unlock by leveling up. Each driver has a certain group of cars he’s good at driving. There’s also bars that are called Loyalty, Skill, Attack and Defence. And you’d have a hard time of knowing what anything of that means. Or that you can even change your teammate in the first place. Again, there’s never a mention of any of that. If I didn’t play Autosport, I wouldn’t even know that I can press up on my controllers d-pad to tell my teammate to attack the other drivers. Pressing down tells him to defend and hold his position. Well, to be fair I’m telling my dude on the radio to pass on this information to my teammate. This radio dude, let’s call him Marvin, is rather unenthusiastic about anything. There’s no excitement in Marvin’s voice whatsoever. It’s just cold and dry. Come on Codemasters. You can do better. So much better. What happened?

Even the liveries are weird. Every single paint job looks like it’s made from this weird shiny candy wrapper. You have no real control over where you want these different paints applied either. It seems like the base colour is mostly matt, everything else is chrome. The sequence you get shown when choosing to do a hotlap is another questionable decision. You see your car slowly driving up to the start/finish line. Then it suddenly fades to black and a few frames later you see your car driving at breakneck speeds with a countdown until you can control your car. Polish.. this game really needs it. Loads of it. Fortunately enough, the game at least runs really well on my system. I haven’t seen my nvidia 1080Ti go over 50% utilization at 1440p with all bells and whistles enabled. So at least here Codemasters can redeem themselves a bit. The game even comes with Dolby Atmos support if you have the capable hardware for it. But who here really has speakers up in their ceiling? Still, it’s there and that’s good. Each button can be reassigned in the options menu and there even is a field of view slider for your cockpit camera viewing pleasure. But for some reason the motion blur option is missing. I’d imagine you need to disable the post process setting to get rid of the blur. Hopefully that’s something they will add with future patches.

The Verdict

So where do I stand with this reboot? It’s missing different race modes like stock car derby, drifting or even endurance races that have you manage your tyre wear. The crashes are not exciting and the graphics aren’t either. It seems like Codemasters seemingly threw everything away they have learned over the last decade and started from scratch. Neither did they use any of the various systems they developed in their countless other games. It’s quite baffling to me how this happened. Grid (2019) is way more barebones than it has any right to be and after replaying the original Grid for this review, I think I’ll stick to the original one.

Case Review

  • Performance: The game runs well enough and most people won’t be having issues running the game at 60fps.

  • Settings: Loads of settings to choose from. No matter your hardware, I’m sure it’ll be playable on a lot of systems thanks to the countless settings. Though, I am missing the motion blur option.

  • Racetypes: There’s only races. No drifting or crash races. Just normal races.

  • Graphics: Even Codemasters own games from years ago can look better at times.

  • Crashes: There seems to be no focus on crashes whatsoever. They do happen here and there, but they are far from exciting and have been done miles better in the 11 year old original Grid game.

2.5 Score: 2.5/5
A racing game that doesn’t know what it wants to be.


  • Settings: This being a Codemasters game, the settings are plenty and you won’t be missing a whole lot of settings. Unfortunately though, motion blur is a setting you will miss.
  • Audio: Grid (2019) indeed supports audio. Various sliders for various audio things like the speech of your race engineer or music. There even is a Dolby Atmos option.
  • Controls: Every key, vibration or steering/throttle strength can be reassigned or edited. What more do you really want?

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