GRID Legends hands-on shows Codemasters at its very best


GRID Legends sees Codemasters throwing everything at the racing genre, and we were impressed by how much of it sticks.

The GRID franchise has always felt like Codemasters’ chance to embrace its wilder side, and in GRID Legends, it’s clear the historic developer is offering its very own “sample platter” of racing disciplines.

GRID Legends will not only feature a fully-acted campaign and an innovative new cross-platform multiplayer process where players can join on friends instantly but there is an incredible variety of event types that run from standard circuit races to Stadium trucks to a battle royale-style elimination setup.

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We went hands-on with Codemasters’ new racer at a recent preview event, and it’s already looking promising.

Feeling 22

GRID Legends screenshot showing the London trackCodemasters
Some of GRID Legends’ tracks are modeled on real cities and locations, while some are original creations.

While our hands-on session didn’t include any of the game’s Driven to Glory campaign mode, we were able to dip into a few modes on some of GRID Legends’ tracks – and some of the drama from the story definitely slips through.

For one, our race around a facsimile of London felt like pretty standard fare until we’d bumped one opponent too many times heading into the last lap. They were then marked as a “Nemesis”, denoting that they’d be hunting us down where possible.

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With 22 racers in the majority of events, that means there’s plenty of scope for carnage (although in our preview build, vehicles didn’t show any cosmetic damage).

It was all fun and games until we approached the last couple of bends and our aforementioned new rival got a little too friendly with our rear bumper. Thankfully, we recovered and won the race, but the next event was a little tougher.

Last one racing

GRID Legends screenshot showing an open-wheel vehicleCodemasters
GRID Legends’ Elimination races are even tenser in open-wheel vehicles

The Elimination mode is a tricky prospect in itself, as a growing number of racers at the back of the pack are removed from the race. This prompts an “overtake at all costs” mentality, and that almost always leads to trading plenty of paint – and plenty of chances to make new enemies.

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What made it worse was that this particular event stipulated open-wheel cars, meaning a lot of speed, but with it an increased probability of bouncing from corner to corner. The result? Even after multiple attempts, it was a tough ask to get to the head of the pack.

One misjudged corner could send a car spinning out, smashing into others and creating new inadvertent rivals. It’s a great way of making races intense and memorable, while also adding a dash of narrative to the mix.

It’s not all banging and crashing, though. GRID Legends pulls from the racing genre’s now customary rewind feature in case you really mess up the last turn and lose it all.

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Big mother trucker

GRID Legends screenshot showing a Stadium TruckCodemasters
Stadium Trucks make a big impression in GRID Legends.

We could go on for pages and pages about GRID Legends’ racing disciplines, but another clear standout is the inclusion of Stadium Trucks. This event type sees, as you can imagine, huge vehicles crunching each other out of the way.

That makes rivalries easy to build, but there’s an impressive amount of skill required to navigate races versus their more nimble, smaller car counterparts – while cross-discipline events will allow multiple vehicle types to go head to head.

Whichever vehicle you’re driving, GRID Legends will reward you for it. Each mile driven will offer bonuses, and every overtake, every drift, and even just following the racing line will see your reputation grow – helping grow your collection of over 100 cars.

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While we’re excited to try the Driven to Glory mode, GRID Legends is already poised to offer a varied driving experience.

If you enjoyed Forza Horizon 5, it feels in many ways like the perfect follow-up – a racing game built for fun, with a pinch of drama found in every turn.

GRID Legends arrives on February 25.