Grip: Combat Racing Review

Grip takes place in an unspecified future with ground-based racing taking place on various planets. The vehicles are all very sparse in design – they’re basically rectangles with 4 big knobby tires. With these vehicles you can rip along the courses at speeds up to near 800mph if you hit the right powers up and have stored up boost. There are nine vehicles that can be tricked up with customizable paint jobs as well as tire and rim options.

The powers up number nine in all and include both defensive and offensive abilities. Shields, turbos, missiles and explosive darts are part of the repertoire. There are five weapons and four power-ups plus two additional abilities – Launch and Boost.

All of these add-ons came into play depending on which game style is chosen. There are six game modes – Classic Race, Ultimate Race – basically a season point based championship, Elimination mode, Time Trials, Arena – Deathmatch, and Carkour – car based parkour. There are twenty-two tracks, three arenas and nineteen carkour courses. One can play the game in single player, split-screen, or online versus players across the world.

All About That Air

All of this offers players a wealth of choices but as with every racing game it all comes down to the physics of the game. With Grip, handling happens in two ways. The first is the ground-based one and here the game performs very well. The controls are tight and the cars respond as expected. The other aspect is more problematic – when the car is airborne. Here one has to steer the car as well but the controls feel sluggish and one can only control left and right movement but not up and down. Which leads to frustration as you should be prepared for your vehicle to be air-borne a fair bit of the time.

So the game looks good and sounds pretty good with a solid twelve track in-game electronic music soundtrack. The controls are a bit of mixed bag – solid ground controls with sluggish air controls. Plenty of power-ups and weapons and a great sense of speed. It should all add up to a decent game playing experience.

Grip

Yet it doesn’t.

The game’s biggest problem is that all the pieces don’t come together to give a satisfying experience. If you have played a game like Wipeout you’ll know what I mean. In those games the controls, the weapons, the racetracks, and the powerups all mesh to give you an experience where you are left with a sense of accomplishment. When something happens in Wipeout that allows you to move ahead or causes you to fall back, it feels fair and recognizable as part of the gameplay.

This doesn’t happen in Grip. The environments are so busy, whether you are running on flat ground or careening around the walls and ceilings of closed in areas, that the gameplay elements end up feeling just so random. You can jump to the lead and then be knocked back to last place in a matter of seconds. Your mileage may vary but this randomness takes away any sense of accomplishment and feels like a glitzy facade of rubber band racing.

In the end, Grip has all the prerequisite gameplay and technical elements. Yet the randomness of the environments and the clunky air handling left little to be desired. It almost feels like a game of chance instead one involving skill. I’ll give it solid marks for the technical aspects but the randomness of the gameplay left me cold. It’s worth a try as you may feel differently.

***PS4 code was provided by the publisher***

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