When it comes to sports and racing games, it’s quite rare for dev teams to implement in-depth, narrative-driven experiences. GRID Legends, on the other hand, embraces this style as its main selling point while cranking up the campy camp meter to 9,000.
Even if it’s far from the most inspiring piece of storytelling, the events that take place really help to immerse the player into the shoes of protagonist, Driver 22. After joining the struggling Seneca racing team, Driver 22 and partner, Yume Tanaka are tasked with reaching the pro leagues. Soon declaring to the motorsport world that they aren’t just mere doormats. Rivalries ensue, feelings are hurt and then Eric from Sex Education appears! He is the best part of the story. As soon as his character appears on screen, he just steals the show – no contest.
Overall, it’s a relatively straightforward plot with a handful of twists and turns here and there, but it definitely should have been a lot more fleshed out. The 90’s energy is on full display though, complete with a straight-up Bond villain and rival character that takes things WAY too seriously. Albeit, the best part about the story is how it takes players through each racing mode of GRID Legends.
Taking around 6 hours to complete without any restarts, the campaign constantly strives to keep the cars, locations, events and weather fresh whilst being very easy on the eyes. Plus, you don’t always have to finish first to advance and can tune up your car exactly how you like, which is a nice touch. One minute you’ll be careening down speedways in souped-up sports cars, the next you’re strategically smashing into various vehicle types in the Multi Class races. And it all feels so good to control and listen to as well. There’s also the Drift events, Time Attack and Stadium Super Truck matches, but my two personal favourites were Electric and Elimination.
The Nitty Gritty of GRID Legends
Electric puts these speed boost gates on the map, which can give drivers three cheeky turbo-charges per lap. Whereas Elimination is all about staying towards the front of the pack, while the trailing two racers are picked off every 30 seconds or so. This is ridiculously intense! It’s like the movie Speed, on steroids. Especially if you don’t use the flashback (rewind time) ability, because the smallest of crashes can absolutely ruin your day. In a good way, of course.
GRID Legends also brings back the Nemesis feature which works exceedingly well. If you often brush up against another racer or just annoy them one too many a time, they’ll single you out and make it difficult for Driver 22 to pass, or just bump off the player at the most inconvenient turns. It is a bit weird that Yume will sometimes target Driver 22 though. Aren’t we on the same team? We need the points!… But in all seriousness, it does add in a human element of
“I’m going to wreck your shop now, and there’s NOTHING you can do about it!” Making each race all the more engaging. This one aspect gives GRID Legends a unique edge over its competitors, Forza and Gran Turismo in the AI department.
Outside of the story, players can take on a series of challenges in Career mode, procedurally generate their own tracks with custom parameters for vehicle types and design elements, and race online with full cross-play support between PlayStation, Xbox and PC. The multiplayer component, in particular, is super simple to set up with a vast array of join options. You can easily jump into any active race by taking over an AI slot, and then go up against 21 other players at a time. It’s glorious. The network connection also feels ultra-smooth and I’m confident that the servers will be just as strong come launch day.
If you’re searching for a balance of arcade and sim-style racing full of varied events, sublime controls and great sound design, then you’re already in the right place. GRID Legends has such quality content that’ll keep you coming back long after the credits roll on the story. While the narrative itself is largely forgettable and unintentionally hilarious, one or two extra over-the-top game modes would’ve been the icing on the cake. Nevertheless, GRID Legends still contains over 250 Career events, 130 routes and several race types like Elimination and Electric which are more than worth the price of admission.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
GRID Legends brings in several new additions to the series: full cross-play support, drop-in multiplayer and an extensive live action story amongst others. Couple that with the Mario Kart inspired Electric mode and no holds barred Elimination matches, and you’re in for a smashing good time.
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