Grid Legends doubles down on motorsport’s Netflix factor •

Grid Legends doubles down on motorsport's Netflix factor •

Motorsport is a drama. It’s built into the DNA of the sport and sort of inevitable when you get a bunch of heavily loaded people in charge of millions of pounds of precision gear and let them go head to head. And so you get rivalries, tensions and sometimes just despicable behavior like we saw last night in Jeddah, and it’s no wonder that the recently increased F1 success stems from the Netflix Drive to Survive series – a show that puts this drama front and center.

Grid Legends Preview Developer: Codemasters Publisher: EAP Platform: Played on PC Availability: February 22, 2022 on PC, Xbox and PlayStation 4/5

It was the spectacle that helped F1 finally break up the United States – pre-sale tickets for next year’s Miami event sold out in 40 minutes, although the cheapest on offer was around £ 500 – so it’s no surprise that this is an approach Codemasters hopes to help push their Grid series to a wider audience. With FMV interludes and a new focus on the rivalries and tensions that have existed in the series since its TOCA days, Grid Legends is all about the drama.

It’s an approach that has been attempted more than once in video games, and with varying results – the FMV scenes from the Need for Speed ​​reboot have fallen flat, while Codemasters own F1 series has enjoyed a drama more grounded in the hyper realities of sports – although the signs are promising for Grid Legends. Using the same virtual production techniques seen to great effect recently in The Mandalorian, starring Ncuti Gatwa of Sex Education and written by Brad Kane of Ghost of Tsushima, it has at least all the right ingredients in it.

And he’s smart enough to lean into luscious excess, with Ravenwest, Grid’s longtime villains reprising the role, this time aided by a living incarnation of Team Leader Nathan West to focus your seething hatred on. The fact that Grid is one of the few racing games with a longtime villain that I actually remember – maybe Red Bull in F1 games matters? – means Grid Legends already got me invested from the get-go, and the loose frame of the story promises it should deliver some thrill. You are Driver 22, join the new Seneca Motorsport team alongside their existing number one Yume Tanaka, and as the owner / driver it’s up to you to lead the way to topple Ravenwest.

There are many more disciplines available in Grid Legends that should add some variety – elsewhere, multi-class racing is presented in hilarious extremes, with spindly Formula Ford cars battling complete trucks.

So begins a career that allows you to choose from the different disciplines offered in Grid Legends and improve your rides as you go. There’s some smart stuff in the middle of it all – car upgrades are unlocked when you drive a particular model, with the money you earn and then spend to activate those upgrades. Elsewhere, your racecraft – which you can think of as Grid Legends’ congratulatory system, racking up points as you drive – unlocks upgrades for your teammates and mechanics, all gathered to present a pleasurable path of progression through the career.

2The rewind function returns and is always welcome. Handling has been fine-tuned, as have the external cameras, although it’s too early to say how much of an impact this has made.

On track, Grid Legends benefits from its predecessor’s predilection for drama. The choreographer returns with a few tweaks, once again presenting named AI opponents with their own recognizable quirks, weaknesses and behaviors, and a small handful of runs prove he’s just as effective as before, bolstered by the 22 plus. large car grids offered here. Grid Legend’s commitment to blurring the lines between offline and online play is also impressive, with the ability to participate in live multiplayer matches with a special twist that I’m curious to see in action.

Most of the time, though, I can’t wait to see Grid’s appeal expand a bit more. I was a bigger fan of the 2019 reboot than most, and still love its cleanly-delivered arcade action, backed up by pleasant handling and smart production. Grid Legends still has that at its core – indeed, with just three new tracks added to the streets of Moscow, London and a fictional new track called Strada Alpina, some might accuse this of being more of an expansion than a sequel – but the additions look well-intentioned, with some of the rough edges smoothed out. If Grid Legends can then deliver the same mellow Drive to Survive drama – or even the over-the-top melodrama of actual F1 – then it just might gain this streak of new fans along the way.

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