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‘Grid: AutoSport’ review: Too darn bad it’s too darn real

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Grid Autosport

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Codemasters’ newest racing sim- “Grid: AutoSport” is as authentic a racing experience you can get on the PlayStation 3. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

On paper, Codemasters’ “Grid: AutoSport” has it all, plenty of cars, venues, a deep single-player mode and a fun online multiplayer mode, but something is missing.

To a gear-head, or someone who prefers to watch “Top Gear,” rather than “Seinfeld,” those issues aren’t even prevalent ones. With solid current generation graphics (away from a few blurry and flat-out ugly camera views), realistic controls and the bevy of aforementioned goodies, this game is perfect for driving and racing fanatics. To those who think a driving game of any sort needs more than just the driving, perhaps a few varieties of Koopa Shells or some scantily-clad women, this is not the game for you.

On the side of “Grid: AutoSport,” the career mode allows you to race in five different events, each feeling different from one another. Because of this alone, even gamers who grow to despise the game will at least get some mileage out of the at-times, finely-tuned racer. Racing on the street is a completely different monster than driving with an open-wheel car for example and getting to experience the differences between all of the cars is what makes the game, at times, better than the some of its parts. This type of gameplay polish shows the Codemasters team tried hard to create a well-rounded experience and it definitely shows, but they forgot to add elements that could create a fun environment for those who prefer to race with matchbox cars.

Sure, racing with dream cars, for world-renowned sponsers, in venues all over the world is a blast for those who live and breath the sport, but in the end, it’s just that- racing in cars around the same tracks, over and over. With no actual story (“Grid 2” at least tried in this area) there’s very little to tie the experience together and appeal to the masses. The demographic for this game, in spite of all the polish and shine from a control point of view, is almost minute.

Hardcore racing fans will argue that casual gamers just don’t want to experience what it’s like behind these cars and just want to have a good time. They would be right. In terms of realism in racing games, the rush of being behind the wheel of a real car shouldn’t be and probably won’t able to be replicated on a console. Because if that ever actually is the case, then why play the game at all?

Such is the situation in “Grid Autosport,” a game that ultimately does so many things right, but ends up failing because it doesn’t have a soul. Realistic racing aside, there’s no reason for anyone other than the most dedicated racing aficionados to give it a whirl.

The Good:

Hyper Realistic: After a few laps, it’ll be obvious that true car lovers designed the game.

A Definite Improvement Over Its Predecessor: With so many different modes of play and online play, there’s almost too much to do in “Grid: AutoSport.” So much that most casual gamers won’t get to experience it all in a rental.

The Bad:

Tough Learning Curve: Hard isn’t the word for “Grid: AutoSport.” While the control is tight and responsive, it’s such a departure for casual gamers that they’ll find themselves frustrated while trying to wrap their heads around simple things like slowing down before tough turns.

A.I. is Insane, Even on Lower Difficulty Settings: Very similar to this year’s NASCAR game, if you make a bad turn, you’ll pay. In first place and drive into a wall, game over. You’ll go to tenth place before you’ve realized what happened. Luckily, the flashback option allows for some forgiveness.

Unsexy Gameplay For Casual Gamers: Thriving in “Grid: AutoSport” requires patience and poise, two things many gamers lack. A lot of the core gameplay is repetition, something hardcore fans of the sport understand, while casual one don’t. Some modes allow for more casual drift-style acade-esque racing, but many others are realistic enough for you to slow down and drive like a human being. Those who play this game that engage in acts of road rage while in their own car may have to invest in a new controller.

No Story: “Grid 2” at least tried to keep gamers occupied with a narrative, but “Grid: AutoSport” is all about the actual driving. For those who prefer “Mariokart," this will be a huge turn off.

No-In Game Tunes?: Aside from the music played in the game’s menu screens, there’s no music during gameplay, just the sound of engines and tires.

The Bottom Line:

If you love racing games, ““Grid: AutoSport” will smother you in options, cars, tracks and fun. There’s simply so much content that the small blemishes, such as a lack of a pit stop and in-game music can easily be forgiven. If you grew up on arcade-themed racers the likes of “Ridge Racer” and “Need for Speed” however, you’ll find yourself in an environment that doesn’t forgive as much as you’d like it, making the experience more a frustration than anything else.

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