GRID Legends is a fun racing game for casual drivers, and is a welcome addition to the series after the disappointing 2019 reboot of GRID.
When Race Driver: GRID was released back in 2008, it not only breathed new life into the TOCA franchise but also into arcade racing in general. In fact, Race Driver: GRID is still looked back on fondly by fans of the genre, and for many, it’s still the highpoint of the series.
After a disappointing reboot in 2019, Codemasters is back with GRID Legends, a fun arcade racer that is full of action. Whether you love to send it down the inside or just bash opponents out of the way, the only limit to your overtaking is your own imagination.
Despite this, GRID Legends still feels like a game that lags behind its competitors, and while the game’s Drive to Glory story mode is enjoyable, it’s not enough to make the game a viable long-term racer.
GRID Legends – Key Details
- Price (Standard Edition): $59.99 | £59.99
- Developer: Codemasters
- Release date: 25/02/2022
- Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC
GRID Legends trailer
Driven to Glory
After the success of Braking Point in F1 2021, Codemasters have introduced a detailed, fully narrative story mode to GRID Legends called Driven to Glory. If Braking Point was a nod to blockbuster Formula 1 series Drive to Survive, this is more of a direct adaptation. The story is told through cutscenes, with live-action drivers and team owners talking to cameras just like Christian Horner or Lewis Hamilton would in Netflix’s smash-hit docu-series.
Our character in this mode is ‘Driver 22,’ a nameless, faceless racer who never speaks, or really adds anything to the story other than their existence. This is probably the weakest part of Driven to Glory because while we grow to care about his teammate Yume Tanaka, we’re never really given a reason to have any interest in the character we actually play as, and any success is the team’s, not our own personal glory.
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The mode’s other characters are fleshed out and interesting though, and the developers did a great job making you dislike your rivals at Ravenwest Motorsport, especially their star driver Nathan McKane, whose arrogance and smugness are at times infuriating.
Driven to Glory is a fun story mode, but I did feel that it started to rush through its final act toward the end, and could have benefitted from more cutscenes in the run-up to the finale. Codemasters say that Drive to Glory lasts between eight and 10 hours, however, I found that I had completed the mode in less than seven hours.
GRID racing at its best
If casual racing is your thing, then you’ll love GRID Legends. This game doesn’t mind if you get your elbows out to overtake. In fact, it encourages you to bump your opponents out of the way, and the aggressive AI makes it almost impossible not to. GRID’s Nemesis system is back though, so make sure not to crash into your opposition too often, otherwise, they’ll be gunning to wipe you out.
Still, clean overtakes are possible, especially if you can master the art of late braking. Your opponents often slow quite early, so if you’re confident in your car control, you can usually slip down the inside and nab the position.
GRID Legends improves on the racing system used in the series over the years, offering their most refined driving experience yet. Best of all, curbs don’t spin you anywhere near as often as GRID 2019 did, so you can throw the car into corners and hit your apexes without the fear of losing it instantly.
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I tried the game using both a controller and a racing wheel. While it is more than possible to use a wheel, I found the settings a little tricky to work with and felt that the responsiveness wasn’t quite as good as it was on the gamepad. After a couple of hours, I ended up switching to the controller and never considered going back. I’m sure with tinkering you could find the perfect setup for your wheel, but I think GRID: Legends is much better suited for a controller.
With 22 locations, 137 track layouts, and over 120 cars, there are plenty of races to keep you enthralled. While the game includes real-life tracks like Brands Hatch and Austria’s Red Bull Ring, racing through cities is where the game shines graphically, with the Strada Alpina and Dubai locations really catching the eye. Each of these is a facsimile of the location, and it’s fun to careen past landmarks that have no business being this close together at times.
On top of that, GRID Legends comes with eight different race types, spread across eight different vehicle types. In one race, you’ll be flying around a circuit in a GT car, the next you’ll be doing a Time Attack in a Truck. Having all these modes is great to keep the racing fresh, but something Codemasters could work on is how often you play the same race. Especially during Driven to Glory, it felt like every other race was Elimination, where the cars at the back get eliminated every 60 seconds. Elimination is a great mode and a GRID classic, but by the end of the story mode, I didn’t care if I ever played it again, and when I booted up career mode and saw it again, I couldn’t help but groan.
Every car in the game feels different too, which helps add to the longevity of the game. For me, the introduction of electric cars based on Formula E is a real breath of fresh air, with the addition of the Boost mode adding more strategy to your races. Use it too soon, you’ll have run out by the end of the lap, but hold on too long and your opponents will zoom away from you.
Fun — but lagging behind
GRID Legends is certainly a fun game, but it feels like a game that’s still playing catch up to its competitors. Forza Horizon 5 is still the standard-bearer for casual racing games, with its open-world giving players opportunities to race, compete, or just drive around and admire the gorgeous landscape. If you don’t want to drive, Horizon has a top-level livery design tool, and the stunt missions are a welcome reprieve from racing.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little more serious and realistic, Gran Turismo 7 drops March 4, while pure simulations like iRacing or Assetto Corza Competizione will scratch that competitive itch in a way that GRID Legends just can’t.
Even in terms of longevity, GRID Legends doesn’t match up to another of Codemasters’ titles in F1 2021. With real-life drivers to compete against and constantly changing vehicle regulations, there’s a reason to keep playing. The GRID World Series doesn’t change, and once you’ve lifted the championship once, I’m not sure why you would try and do it again.
GRID Legends is definitely an improvement on its 2019 predecessor and is a solid pick-up for anyone who enjoys casual racing games. The Driven to Glory story mode is a fine addition, but won’t blow anyone away, and while it does feature the franchise’s best in-game racing yet, it doesn’t quite match up to its competitors.