The racing genre has been developing in leaps and bounds in recent years thanks to the advance of technology. Codemasters began its transition to next-gen racing with Colin McRae: DiRT, which had unprecedented damage modeling coupled with fantastic graphics and excellent physics. With Race Driver: GRID, they've built on their past experience and avoided past mistakes.
Race Driver: GRID is essentially the continuation of the V8 Supercars/TOCA Race Driver series, but has moved away from the original series in all the best possible ways. Gone are the linear and irritating video style presentations of the past, where you are in the shoes of a young driver with your manager and pit-boss constantly breathing down your neck.
You now start off creating your own persona, with the ability to even select what you would like to be called by your manager and your team over the pit-radio from a substantial list of real names, male and female, and nicknames. This is one of those little features we have been wishing for ever since racing games were first developed, and it's finally been realised.
Once you're in the game you are given an old Mustang to restore, and you need to race for existing teams to earn the money to achieve this. Once you have clocked together the wins you can then give the Mustang a new paint job, as well as name your own racing team. This means you will be able to enter a range of races over three continents, the US, Europe and Asia.
Once you have gained enough money and reputation points (you race for money as well as reputation) you will be able to hire a new team mate. This has to be one of our favourite modes as it allows you to be a team manager as well as a race driver. You can hire from a huge range of drivers based on any search criteria you select, and on the signing bonus you offer them and the percentage of their own winnings they take with them. You can see a run down of their abilities before hand, but it is by no means a sure thing.
Team mates will also move in the rankings and gain reputation points, which means they develop over the time they spend with your team. The control over the team mate is however restricted to hiring and firing, and you can’t give them commands in race (i.e. push harder!).
You can name your team and design the car, which includes picking out the sponsors and the placement of the sponsor ads depending on which slot you put them in. This works out to be a pretty great and easy-to-use system to make your team's cars look great, fast. It will also automatically apply itself to all of the cars your team races, across all classes. The vehicle classes that are at your disposal are simply immense, as we would expect from any title in the Race Driver series - which is renowned for throwing you into very unfamiliar shoes as you move through your career. Now the options are far more open to you. The game is slotted into those three previously mentioned regions, and you have to choose events from each region to unlock your regional driver's license, which in turn unlocks more events for that region. The US has several muscle car races, touring cars as well as a very fun destruction derby race which does a great job of showing off the damage engine.
Asia is mainly drift events, but also has the new Pro Touge events which involve racing down a hill vs. a single opponent. It is a time-based challenge and you start ahead of the opponent by a small margin in the first run, and the second run back up the hill reverses this by having the opponent start marginally ahead of you. The aim is to maximise the time difference between you and the opponent, and win over the cumulative time after both runs. Events like this are great because they ensure each continent has a unique feel and flavour to the driving style required there.
Europe in turn also has its own unique events and would have to be our favourite due to the presence of the traditional touring car events as well as open wheel racing in Formula 1000 and Formula 3 cars.
Each continent has its own tracks which include Le Mans, Spa Francorchamps, Nurburgring, a city circuit in Milan, San Francisco, Istanbul and many many more. For all of these events you can either race for other teams, or buy the car(s) required for your own garage.
There is an eBay Motors Cup where you can buy second-hand cars off other teams, with the price depending on how many wins the car has had and how many times it has been wrecked. The idea is to not buy cars that have been wrecked too often, but supposedly you can do very well to buy a second-hand car with a lot of wins. What difference this makes to performance, is not explained, however it would be safe to assume that some difference exists as the second-hand price is often the same as or more than the new price.
As your garage fills with the over forty vehicles you can collect you really start to get a sense of pride in your team. The game does very well to make you feel like it's your team, and this will help ignite racing passion in almost any player.