Announced at E3 2021 during the EA Play event, GRID: Legends is the fifth installment in the GRID series, but more importantly it is the first developed since Codemasters came under the aegis of Electronic Arts. The basic idea is to use the ingredients that made the success of Racedriver: GRID (the first installment in the series), while adding a few new features, such as a fairly new narrative mode in the series, but which turns out to be very fashionable in the latest Codemasters productions. What will bring this new opus into the legend? Answer in our test.
After an agreed but effective 2019 episode (simply called GRID), Codemasters is back with GRID: Legends to seduce arcade racing fans. The objective is clear: to have fun with big sensations of speed, but without needing the talent of an Ayrton Senna to keep his car at the limit of grip, and thus get the quintessence. On this point, if you have played the previous opus, we can assure you that you will not be out of place. Piloting is still as simple as ever, and if a few pilot aids are present, even removing everything, there will be no need to have any special talent to win races. However, the differences between cars are quite noticeable (between traction and propulsion, but also between supercar and real racing car), even if we remain light years away from what real demanding simulations like Assetto Corsa offer.
Rubeus ha GRID
We pestera that said on the cars that all seem a bit heavy, even when driving a vehicle supposed to weigh less than a ton. The piloting remains easy, and we have fun very quickly, especially since the AI does not offer a great challenge whatever the level of difficulty chosen. Be careful, the Legend difficulty (the highest) represents a hell of a step compared to the previous options. In the middle of the classic race, sprint and elimination events, GRID Legends especially marks the great return of Drift! Racedriver’s flagship test: GRID which had succeeded in offering hyper catchy (if not realistic) handling to certain racing cars, including the famous Nissan Silvia S15. Discipline is still just as effective, but the heaviness effect of the cars we have already talked about affects the sensations, and if the mode has the merit of being present, it is no longer as fun as before.
Content level, there is however enough to do, with many disciplines, and if most are covers of what existed in the previous episode (Touring, GT, etc…) we are entitled to a few small novelties, including the arrival of electric cars. We will thus be entitled to supercars, but also to a copy of Formula-E. The salt of electric racing cars of course lies in their famous boost that can be unlocked by following specific (not optimal) trajectories on the circuits, as in real FIA Formula-E races. The strength of GRID: Legends is to always allow players to choose the disciplines they prefer, without being penalized. Clearly, if you hate drifting, it will be quite possible to make a career out of boycotting events of this type. It is enough to focus on a few types of races to be able to progress without worry.
A Bug’s life
Lovers of beautiful bodies will also get their money’s worth with a wide choice of cars, including the sulphurous Aston Martin Valkyrie (whose first deliveries have just started) which is none other than the competitor of the Mercedes AMG-One which is the ultimate car of Forza Horizon 5. There will also be many classics including the Ford Turbo Capri Zakspeed, the Porsche 935 Moby Dick, or the Mazda RX-7 Panspeed. Of course, budding artists will still be able to show off their talents via the hyper-complete livery editor that is available in the game. Moreover, Codemasters has further enriched this tool, with more patterns, sponsor stickers and possibilities. In short, everything you need to be able to shine and stand out in multiplayer events. GRID: Legends also offers a “seamless multiplayer” mode which actually allows you to open your game to online players, and thus take advantage of real players during any event in career mode. The problem is that the system is not necessarily very developed. We found a lot of annoying bugs (a race that does not start, a car placed in front of a barrier in the starting position, or lower performance when some players land), despite a rather powerful test PC. Too bad, especially since in solo the title runs rather well, with a quite honorable graphic rendering, and many effects like clouds of confetti, or fireworks when you pass the finish.
That said, we may prefer multiplayer races when we see what the AI has in store for us. The behavior of the bots is hyper random, and if some crash alone (why not), others are hyper aggressive. Although the Nemesis system is still relevant (if we enter a bot, it becomes more aggressive with us), it doesn’t really work. The most violent AIs are rarely our designated rivals, while we often become a bot’s nemesis just by following it a little too closely. We don’t even talk to you about rubber banding madness (the system that groups the peloton, and makes the AIs crawl when you’re last, and they catch up 10 seconds behind in a single turn when you’re first) which is absolutely unbearable. Worse, the random mechanical annoyances that bots hit are often quite comical. We saw a Clio lose its tailgate in the middle of a straight line, for no reason. An entertaining anecdote, but unfortunately not very realistic. In the same vein, it was also noted that walls of tires collapsed without any car having had contact. Maybe because of a breeze a little too strong?
Moreover, we specify that it is always possible to adjust the level of damage that we want, going from realism to cosmetics, knowing that we can also check the terminal damage option. If the latter is activated, it will be possible to screw up our car to the point of not being able to continue the race. That said, even in realism mode, the game remains very lenient with the speeders, and it will really be necessary to work the bodywork with great blows of barriers and bumpers before being able to have mechanical damage. The latter are quite varied, ranging from an engine problem (loss of power) to a gunned-down suspension (more than random handling) through a twisted steering (the car pulls to the right or to the left).
It’s the story of life
Finally, there is the story mode. Very fashionable in Codemasters productions since F1 2020, narrative parentheses have had more or less success. If those of F1 2020 and F1 2021 were pretty good, the story of DIRT 5 (with Nolan North and the youtubers of Donut Media) was far more forgettable. Unfortunately, we are here in the second scenario. We will not even criticize the scenario of an absolute platitude, but rather the way in which it is delivered to the player, namely only via live-action cutscenes. Our actions in the race have no impact on the course (as long as we complete the objective, like finish at least 7and) of history, and you never witness the events told later in the race. For example, after a race where our teammate is supposed to have suffered a huge crash, we restarted the race, in order to be able to follow the unfortunate pilot, and thus be witnesses of his accident. Imagine that absolutely nothing happened, and that our teammate’s car simply stopped nicely on the side of the track at some point, without any explanation. Better, we laugh even more when the superstar pilot of the RavenWest team explains that he has never heard of us (we embody pilot 22, a person who we never see and who is not embodied) although we have won the last five races.
In short, the story mode is only to be considered as a quick and friendly little career, but nothing more. Besides, the developers must have suspected that the narrative coating is singularly lacking in flavor, since it is possible to skip all the cutscenes. By opting for this solution, we end up with about twenty races that will be dispatched in just a few hours of play. Fortunately, the classic career mode, and the racing editor will guarantee a long life for this GRID Legends. Moreover, we can now improve our cars by going to spend money in a dedicated menu, in order to improve the power, the braking capacities or the handling of our cars.
The idea was to be able to have an advantage, especially in multiplayer. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to create a lobby that bans modified cars, and there is no doubt that 99% of players will opt for this solution. Moreover, fair play is not the king in multiplayer races, and victory will more often be won thanks to the science of killer touchdowns than to that of perfect trajectories. As you have understood, the bulk of the peloton will often turn to the demolition derby. Hey, by the way, this makes us think that this discipline was present in Racedriver: GRID, and that it has never returned since.