GRIP is one rugged beast – and not just in its looks – the vehicles are low to the ground, can traverse multiple surfaces and pick up a multitude of weaponry to take down opponents. What it lacks in grace, it makes up for in brute force.
One of my favourite racing titles is the high speed, multiple surface racer, F-Zero, and while GRIP does a great job at hitting the highs I enjoyed with the Blue Falcon, it just can’t quite take the podium and place highly on my go to racing titles.
Loud engine sounds and a dodgy soundtrack also make this a game destined for the mute button or drowned out with your own music – this could quite easily give V-Rally 4 a run for the worst soundtrack of the year award!
The racing, which lacks any sense of urgency with a questionable AI that has a severe case of rubber banding, takes place over a multitude of environments that you can also drive up walls and across ceilings if you are going fast enough. Each vehicle is essentially suspended between several large wheels, which means you can flip and still be able to drive, which is great because the courses twist and turn, tossing your vehicle from driving on its main base to essentially driving upside down. Unfortunately the tracks also throw you wildly out of control.
Throwing you off the track while racing at high speed was my biggest frustration with the game. Stopping the car dead in the landscape or facing the wrong way with no easy way to return without losing several places, I was forced to rely far too heavily on the car-reset button – more so than Forza’s rewind ability.
Despite the high-speed and being tossed around the world, I barely tensed while playing – all this speed and aggression and I felt like I was on a Sunday drive. Something was missing from the action. The recipe was there but it just didn’t give me the satisfaction it should have.
When all the mechanics collided, there is a brief sweetness of awesome gameplay, then you clip a wall or hit a rock and the whole illusion is shattered. This is the harsh reality of the game. Moments of brilliance are outweighed by clumsy and peculiar design choices that made the game more frustrating than fun.
I feel GRIP exists quite simply to scratch an itch for those who adored Rollcage – but unlike most modern games that pay homage to a classic, GRIP hasn’t moved with the times. It could have easily released during the 90s and fitted right in. With other nostalgic racing titles offering enough bells and whistles to keep the engine warm – and despite thoroughly enjoying the multi plane racing – GRIP won’t last long on my hard drive.
I’ve craved a title that could hold up to the exciting twists and turns of F-Zero. A title that made my eyes water at the immense speed and exhilaration of the action. GRIP fails to stick with me; it can’t quite hit those exhilarating feels of racing across treacherous landscapes at speed. It’s heavy-handed (and often dull) approach made for a racer that had plenty of ideas but lacked the execution and just that little bit of grace.