Grid Legends simulates the chaos of racing – not the art

Image of the item titled Grid Legends simulates the action and chaos of racing - not the art

Screenshot: Electronic arts

When Codemasters’ Gate came back to us after five years of absence in 2019, the reception was mixed. The game was billed as a reboot – this was made clear from the minimalist title, as well as the return of some beloved locations from the original game, like San Francisco and the fictional Okutama Road Course. But something was missing. The race seemed passable, but the limited content and rudimentary career resulted in a lot of repetitions. And Drift mode, one of the Gate The most addicting aspects of 08 were nowhere to be found.

Grid captions sets out to right the wrongs of its predecessor, while adding a dramatic, mock-documentary story mode called Driven To Glory, in the vein of Formula 1: Drive to survive, to give players a little extra to chew on. The game will be released on February 25 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and PC, via Steam and Origin. Last week I had the chance to get behind the wheel.

I should start by saying that Driven To Glory – a story filmed with real actors in front of computer generated backgrounds, Mandalorian-style, was not in the preview I played. There was also no part of the career mode, which is actually separate from the story part and includes over 250 events.

Drift is back and it's still brilliant.

Drift is back and it’s still brilliant.
Screenshot: Electronic arts

In other words, if you have found Gate 2019 to be too light, the Codemasters Southam team has definitely heard you. Captions totals more than 100 cars, divided into nine disciplines – Touring, Drift, Trucks, Specials, Electric, Open Wheel, Tuner, Track Day and GT (which includes LMP style prototypes). Teammates return, which you can once again coach back on track in real time to execute the defense or pass more aggressively. As before, you are free to hire and fire them as the team owner, but they can also be “upgraded” so to speak, just like the cars in your garage. On paper, Captions seems to compensate Gate The lack of depth of 2019 in various ways.

Right now the paper is all we need to do, as I couldn’t see anything for myself during this preview phase. However, I was fortunate enough to sample a handful of events that combined various disciplines and tracks. At least I can talk about the product on the track.

In general, this will sound familiar to anyone who played the last game. Captions is clearly built above the frame of Gate 2019. This is by no means a bad starting point, but the previous episode left something to be desired in the car handling service.

It is a 911 GT1-98 in the appropriate livery.  Grid Legends has more than a few gems on its list.

It is a 911 GT1-98 in the appropriate livery. Grid Legends has more than a few gems on its list.
Screenshot: Electronic arts

of the grid never been a particularly punitive runner. Every entry in the series to date, including the relatively realistic Autosport grid, rewarded generally inadvisable behavior such as steering while braking, or braking much later to take a turn than would be possible even in Gran Turismo Where Forza Motorsport. Corn Gate 2019 was somewhat inconsistent with his approach to physics, as it would lull you into a false sense of forgiveness for silly driving before causing you to lose control if you dared to brush against a sidewalk.

The strangely punitive nature of the borders has been somewhat mitigated in Grid captions, and the cars feel a bit more natural and predictable to drive. This is important, because the ruthless pack races that have always been the calling card of this franchise – cars on track are now increased to 22 in this bracket, up from 16 in the last game – makes accuracy extremely important, in especially on the various tight urban courses included in the list. It’s pretty easy to slice up the peloton when the difficulty is set to Normal, but increase it to Hard and you’ll sweat through fights appropriate for the position.

The Nemesis system introduced in the latest Gate comes back here too. Familiarize yourself too much with a rival’s bumpers and he’ll make you back up just as hard, indicated by a red icon above his car. AI in Grid captions is a bit too aggressive overall and predisposed to making unforced, catastrophic mistakes – he’s still developing, mind, so that may change. But the nemes are positively avenger, sometimes meandering across the width of the track to keep you behind them, and never afraid to stick their elbows out when you press them for space. Fair enough, I guess.

Multi-class racing is a bit weird in Grid Legends – it’s about overtaking the whole peloton, not leading your class of vehicles. Here I started in the back in a Formula Ford type single-seater, going through much slower Beetle Cup Cars and racing semi-trucks. It’s unusual but fun in a chaotic, Grid-like way.
GIF: Electronic arts

Different drivers also behave differently, I’m told – although that’s the kind of statement that’s ultimately hard to gauge in single races, when you can’t really know names in a season of play. see if this statement is more visible in the final version.

Yes Grid captions has an ace in the hole which is clear to me so far is the leads. The fun and engaging closed-circuit design is somewhat of a lost art in this genre, with the endless obsession with open worlds. I like to take an impromptu detour to cross a stream in the rainforest at Forza Horizon 5 as much as anyone, but there’s something to be said for a well-thought-out linear path and the richness of detail it allows. Captions pushes this virtue to its extreme, with epic street courses like the one in Moscow, as well as the Driveclub-evocative views of Strada Alpina.

The range of car categories also contributes Grid captions keep you on your toes from racing to racing. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed driving the Super E cars in the game – essentially an unlicensed replacement for Formula E. As in Formula E, these races place attack zones on the track, thanks to which you can leave the race line in a designated section for a brief but very useful boost of energy.

The 1,974 horsepower Lotus Evija is one of the most notable electric cars in the game - and the grip on a street racetrack.

The 1,974 horsepower Lotus Evija is one of the most notable electric cars in the game – and the grip on a street racetrack.
Screenshot: Electronic arts

This is an element exclusive to electric class races, and it adds a new strategy to them. It’s also ironic: Boost gates were a staple mechanism of futuristic racers dating from before the time of F-Zero and Annihilate. Technology has advanced to the point where such an idea can be realized in actual motorsport, and motorsport has therefore inspired a video game.

On the flip side, having a variety of disciplines on offer ensures that there will be one or two that you definitely don’t like. At the moment it seems to be the Stadium Trucks, which felt awkward and frustrating to steer with any regularity in the build I played. I hope that their handling can be massaged, otherwise before releasing then in a post-launch update, much like the sprint cars in Dirt 5.

Ariel Atom, Red Square, motion blur parisons.  Anyone else feeling any nuances of Project Gotham Racing?

Ariel Atom, Red Square, motion blur parisons. Anyone else who experiences nuances of Gotham Racing Project?
Screenshot: Electronic arts

Globally, Grid captions looks and works fine at this point. All images in this story were captured from my PC, which is equipped with an RTX 3070 GPU and a Ryzen 7 2700X processor. It had no problem maintaining a consistent 60fps at 1440p and a relatively high mix of settings, which is encouraging for any game around 10 weeks before release.

Gate Captions is in a difficult situation, as its launch is scheduled a week before Gran Turismo 7. While GT7 is likely to capture the attention of most racing game fans based on brand and scale alone, Captions going for a less clinical, more visceral motorsport flavor – with a Netflix-inspired icing on the cake, of course. Hopefully that will be enough to make it stand out when it releases in late February. Look forward to our full review then.

About Oscar L. Smith

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