GRID Legends: First Look at Codemasters' Action-Packed Racer

First Look at GRID Legends.jpg
Strap in for an adrenaline-filled racing experience: GRID Legends marks the fifth entry in the franchise, and the newest title by Codemasters and EA does not hold back in the action department – we have taken a look at the title to see what it is all about.

Picking up GRID Legends for the first time, you will not have to wait a long time to find out just that. The game starts off in its story mode by default – it is the showpiece of the game, after all, and Codemasters and EA have put considerable amounts of effort into it, using real actors to portray the story’s characters. It has a similar vibe to Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive” series, following three teams on their path through the GRID World Series.

The player takes on the role of the unnamed “Driver 22”, who is drafted into the second seat of the struggling Seneca team around their team principal Marcus Ado and their lead driver Yume Tanaka, picking up immediately after an enormous multi-car crash in a prototype race at the fictitious Strada Alpine track and requiring the player to finish the race in a damaged car. After that, they can choose how they continue the story: You can either start 16 months before the crash to find out how you got to that point in time, or keep moving forward from the events you just played through.

The former grants the player a more detailed look into the team’s rise and a deeper look into the characters they are surrounded with, including teammate Tanaka and the main antagonist Nathan McKane, whose uncle Ryan is the team principal of the all-conquering Ravenwest team. If the name McKane sounds familiar to you, you are not imagining things – Nathan has been in previous GRID titles and is now finally shown to the player, while Ryan’s roots go all the way back to the first Race Driver title (using either the TOCA, V8 Supercars, DTM or Pro prefix depending on the region of the world it released in), him being the protagonist in that game. Interestingly, Nathan looks similar to Ryan’s antagonist in the first Race Driver game, James Randall, while Ryan does not bear much resemblance to his past self in GRID Legends.

GL_StradaAlpina_AstonVantageGTE_1.jpg


On track, the pace is rapid: Races are usually only about ten minutes long, and it is rare that the same car gets used twice in a row – the same is true for tracks. This means that GRID Legends gets to show off a lot of its content in story mode, and there is no shortage of vehicles to drive – be it prototypes, GT cars, Stadium Trucks or Muscle Cars. In total, more than 120 vehicles are in the game, accompanied by 22 circuits that have up to eight different layouts each. Real-life race tracks included are Brands Hatch, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mount Panorama, Red Bull Ring, Sepang International Circuit, Suzuka Circuit and Sydney Motorsports Park.

Gameplay
GRID Legends does not leave the player with too few things to do: Accompanying the story mode is a career mode in which the player gets to set up their own team and lead them to success, a cross-platform multiplayer mode and a race creator, which allows the player to set up custom races with multiple options for tracks, weather, car class and more.

The emphasis in GRID Legends is on action, and racing against the AI reflects this: Battling them results in contact more often than not, as they will turn in on the player even if they are properly alongside them going into a corner. Too much contact results in the AI drivers becoming rivals, leaving the player even less space and even swerving to avoid being passed. During the races, the player gains race craft XP for actions like following the racing line, drafting, shifting gears correctly and overtakes. What goes against the “race craft” moniker, though, is the fact that contact is rewarded as well.

Of course, GRID Legends has no ambitions to be a racing simulator. This is rather obvious most of the time, especially when your race engineer tells you to drift around a slow corner as it is supposedly faster – the complete opposite to what a real racing driver would do.

In general, the cars have more grip than you would expect, making it possible to chuck them into corners at higher speeds than anticipated. Even without assists, they are relatively easy to keep under control, though sudden snap oversteer can spin you out from time to time, which is not always predictable. Luckily, the rewind feature that has been in the series for years is there to help in such cases, so race restarts are less frequent. The number of rewinds available can be set in the difficulty menu.

This goes hand in hand with the damage model: While it does take quite an impact to actually damage a car beyond cosmetic things, there is an option for terminal damage, meaning big crashes will end your race if you have run out of rewinds. Damage can be scaled back or turned off entirely, however.

Graphics
Make no mistake: GRID Legends is a beautiful game. The cars are all very detailed, the tracks look great and the weather effects are a sight to behold, especially at street circuits at night when the neon lights of the city reflect off of cars and puddles. Even without rain or snow, the effects are impressive, with dust being kicked up, tire barriers being dismantled by collisions or rays of sun passing through trees.

Even on medium settings, the game still looks very well, and performance is good, too. The game is capped at 60fps, meaning PC players with high-performance setups will not have an advantage over console players that they are able to race thanks to the cross-play feature.

GL_StradaAlpina_Porsche911RSR_4.jpg


Audio
Just like the rest of the game, GRID Legends’ audio is bold: The sounds of the cars, both interior and exterior, as well as the location with its trackside announcer and cheering crowds and music soundtrack leave a lasting impression. The sound design fits the action-laden gameplay perfectly, but it is adjustable in case players do not like music while driving or want to hear the car’s engine better.

Multiplayer
To make sure that players are quickly able to find a session to participate, GRID Legends uses two features to its advantage: For one, there is the aforementioned cross-play, meaning PC, PlayStation and Xbox players are able to play with each other. On the other hand, it is possible to join a session that is already in progress by taking control of an AI car in the race, meaning long wait times are a thing of the past. The race creator can be used in multiplayer as well, leading to countless possibilities of setting up events just the way you want them and even add ramps (usually only used for Stadium Trucks) or boost gates (usually used by electric vehicles). Multiplayer sessions support up to 22 players.

Controls
Having been developed with the focus on action and fun, GRID Legends offers multiple different ways to control the game: It recognizes keyboards, gamepads and numerous racing wheels – all of which can be used together for different functions, at least on PC. The controls are highly customizable for bindings, deadzones, force feedback and more. This way, GRID Legends can be enjoyed by sim racers with a dedicated rig and casual players that like to kick back on their couch with a controller alike.

The force feedback on racing wheels feels less detailed than in most sims when racing on the real race tracks that are included, likely a result of them being smoother than the various street courses in the game which have more imperfections, small kerbs and bumps.

Verdict
GRID Legends sets out to provide a fun, exciting experience – which is exactly what it does. If it is approached with this in mind, it can be incredibly fun for casual racing gamers and sim racers alike. The game looks amazing, especially in difficult weather conditions, and does a great job of creating an exciting atmosphere, be it at the real race tracks that are included or at the variety of street circuits in locations around the world.

It is accessible to all skill levels, providing a number of assists for beginners and novices, while rewarding drivers who know how to race without them. A great variety in cars, locations and game modes keeps GRID Legends from getting stale, especially with the well-thought multiplayer mechanics of joining live sessions and cross-play.

The story mode is entertaining and well-made, using real footage of real actors, creating interesting antagonists in the McKanes and Ravenwest, though the plot is nothing groundbreaking – which would be wrong to expect considering what the game set out to achieve. The “Drive to Survive” style of the story, however, is innovative and gets the player more involved with the characters, especially once their backstories shine through.

Visually, GRID Legends is an impressive racer that uses its locations and weather features well to create a dense atmosphere, which is helped by the game’s audio. It is easy to hop in and have some fun while racing a number of current and classic race cars. Sim racers expecting high-level realism are not going to find this in GRID Legends – but that is not what the game is trying to achieve. What it sets out to do, it does very well, making it a fun semi-realistic racing game for all skill levels.

Click here to leave your own review of GRID Legends or let us hear your comments below.
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Lesley Buurlage
Premium
After playing a few hours when the pre release on the 22nd came out i've pretty much the same conclusions. Visually great, and it was cool to see tracks from years ago in Racedriver grid and Grid 2 with the graphical standards of today.

Grid has always been full arcade so i expected nothing less of the handling but oh my does it feel unusual compared to F1 or Forza. Like mentioned you can take a corner the same as you did the lap before but for some reason you suddenly oversteer without given any time to react.

The DtS style story is brilliant though, with both the Mckanes being the cocky :poop: you expect to find at Ravenwest.

Something that bothered me is how hard-locked the story is, and the slight inconsistency in difficulty. From the start i went with Extreme and barely any assists and some races the ai is absolutely gone (which is fine as getting 1st each race is also boring) while in others you finish miles ahead of them. To then have Tanaka say to you that she wants you to keep up while i've beaten her in 9/10 races is just breaking the immersion.
 
Thanks, Yannik.
Aw... the Tanaka-bug...
The good story-line is awesome and keeping the player hooked. Nice.
Yes, why not, have it this way, for a change.. :)
 
Horrible release window between Elden Ring and Gran Turismo 7... You couldn't pick a worst time, but I still hope this game does well. I was a big fan of the Grid/Dirt series.
 
Had an hour on this on Series X last night playing with a controller. Looks nice enough, ran smoothly but the driving even for an arcade racer just didn't have any feel. I've got no interest i the story stuff so the ten hour Gamepass free trial will probably be enough for me.
 
The article states Grid Legends is for all skill levels. Nope. Fast, experienced players will destroy the AI on expert level (same as in GT Sport). Somehow developers of arcade racing games think buyers of their games are not very good at racing. As an offline racer I will stick with racing simulators.
 
why... its a totally different player base then Eldenring and GT7 is Playstation exclusive
Just my thoughts really. Between the extremely overhype hack and slash GotY and the sequel to the legendary "Real Driving Simulator". even if these games aren't competing against each other, Grid sales would be heavily affected if they move the release date a few months before or after these two highly anticipated games. Instead, it sits right between the two games just one week apart. It doesn't take a marketing expert to know that is a boneheaded decision... If an average gamer (non sim-racer) can only afford one full price game this month.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Grid Legends is a bad game. Afterall Titanfall 2 was a great game too... and it also had a horrible release date. Gotta love EA business thinking.
 
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Ole Marius Myrvold
Staff
Premium
Heh, when I tried this a couple of days ago I was quite disappointed.
Graphically it looks really good. I ran it at 1440p and all maxxed out, not a single issue with framerates or anything.
The wide variety of cars is also great. Even though I did spot a bug, when you are on the Ford Falcon V8 Supercar, then the icon shows a Ford Focus Touring Car.
I did do some online racing, which was surprisingly fair. Even had a side-by-side drag to the finish line without contact. The netcode didn't look amazing at all times though.
I like the distinctive different sounds from inside the car compared to outside, but found it interesting that it was louder inside than on chase cam.

Sadly, the three things I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped was the story mode, career mode and gameplay...
Granted, the EA Play 10 hour trial isn't the full game as advertised. It's just the 6 first chapters in the story, but it didn't exactly leave me wanting more. I didn't expect the story to have multiple variations depending on my driving and results, but even with a set story I never felt a part of it.
Going back many years, to the first TOCA Race Driver game on PS1, Codemasters tried to have a tiny bit of story. Again, nothing changed, other than the cars in the background of the cutscenes depending on what championship you were driving in (a nice little touch that). But at least you were a part of the story. You had a name, and you were on camera.
I see from both the review and comments here that I am pretty much alone (so far) with this, but going with the DtS mentioned by @Lesley Buurlage , that's a feel I had as well. Except it felt like I was watching something on Netflix/HBO/Amazon and playing a bit in between. Like if you have more than one monitor, you play a game on monitor one, while streaming a series on monitor 2. You watch a bit of the series, then pause it. Do a race/round/game/whatever in your game, then go back to watch the series you are streaming a bit. I just didn't feel connected to the story at all. While the story itself might get better, and be quite good (again, locked from playing more than 6 chapters), but I just couldn't feel like I was any part of it at all.

The career mode felt grindy. The team aspect slightly weird, but fair enough. I chose my team name, but that name didn't show up as the team name in the team standings. I liked the slightly insane amount of patterns to put on the cars. However, no sponsor decals from the sponsor you choose for you team will show up on the car, even with a custom livery.
Then again, it was the story mode that was the main thing for me when trying the game, not the career.

Gameplay...
Arcade doesn't mean too grippy and simple, but for some cars in GRID Legends it does. I did get a positive surprise when I joined a random online race and we were using the Electric Porsche. That car had a looong braking distance and needed to be driven while not being hard.

I decided to use an xbox one controller when trying the game. Because games like this (and for me, Forza Horizon etc.) are games that is easy to pick up and play a little bit. Just lay back in the gaming chair, pick up the controller and play for 20 min until the dinner is ready - or something like that. I also know that the xbox one controller has "Impulse Triggers". Or independent rumble motors on the triggers. What that means is that while the controller itself can vibrate to give feedback on bumps and so on. The triggers can separately rumble (or not) depending on feedback from the game.
What that means is that the controller itself can give feedback on slides, jumps, kerbs and so on, which the game does do, but it also lacks quite a bit of feedback.
More importantly, it means that the throttle-trigger can give feedback on loss of grip, wheelspin, while the brake-trigger can give feedback on locking wheels and similar. The Forza Horizon series does this, and it's a joy to drive without any assists while on a xbox controller, the feedback from the triggers makes it a viable thing to use, even with 1000hp and wild cars. You just get a feel.
That feel don't exist in GRID Legends, you get no trigger feedback, the controller rumble is not "on point". The game is much better to drive in bonnet/cockpit cam than chase cam, as with not much usable feedback, you need to rely on your eyes, and the way the camera handles the chase came, it makes it hard to control.

I really really really wanted this game to be good. It doesn't need sim-physics to be good (again, I love the mid 00's NASCAR games and V-Rally 3...), but the main selling point here for me was the story, and I never felt a part of it sadly.

If the game ever comes out proper on EA Play, or you got EA Play Pro already, then it's really not a waste of bandwith to DL it, nor is it a waste of hard drive space to install it.
I would not pay full price for the game though. Not at all.

TL;DR:
My 4 hour, genuine first try/first play from Tuesday evening-night.
 
Not too interested in this really. I like arcade games but I also like arcade games to be full-on Sega Rally/ Daytona sort of stuff. The sort of thing you'd stick £1 in and get a few minutes of intense action. I certainly don't want storylines in racing games.
 
PC version gets an automatic one star for having Denuvo. I looked up a YouTube video of the full story mode because that at least was interesting, but otherwise this isn't standing out as a must play for me with GT7 coming a week later.
 
Last edited:
Bram Hengeveld
Staff
Premium
IN SHORT: Another racing game build for people that don't like real racing.
Or on a positive note. A LOT of first time users who will be picking up their first racing game ever and will progress into more realistic sims in the future. Growing the simracing bug takes a bit of time and a few less realistic games. Nothing wrong with that, we have all been there.

Had some of my best online racing days in Toca Race Driver 2 :inlove:
 
Heh, when I tried this a couple of days ago I was quite disappointed.
Graphically it looks really good. I ran it at 1440p and all maxxed out, not a single issue with framerates or anything.
The wide variety of cars is also great. Even though I did spot a bug, when you are on the Ford Falcon V8 Supercar, then the icon shows a Ford Focus Touring Car.
I did do some online racing, which was surprisingly fair. Even had a side-by-side drag to the finish line without contact. The netcode didn't look amazing at all times though.
I like the distinctive different sounds from inside the car compared to outside, but found it interesting that it was louder inside than on chase cam.

Sadly, the three things I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped was the story mode, career mode and gameplay...
Granted, the EA Play 10 hour trial isn't the full game as advertised. It's just the 6 first chapters in the story, but it didn't exactly leave me wanting more. I didn't expect the story to have multiple variations depending on my driving and results, but even with a set story I never felt a part of it.
Going back many years, to the first TOCA Race Driver game on PS1, Codemasters tried to have a tiny bit of story. Again, nothing changed, other than the cars in the background of the cutscenes depending on what championship you were driving in (a nice little touch that). But at least you were a part of the story. You had a name, and you were on camera.
I see from both the review and comments here that I am pretty much alone (so far) with this, but going with the DtS mentioned by @Lesley Buurlage , that's a feel I had as well. Except it felt like I was watching something on Netflix/HBO/Amazon and playing a bit in between. Like if you have more than one monitor, you play a game on monitor one, while streaming a series on monitor 2. You watch a bit of the series, then pause it. Do a race/round/game/whatever in your game, then go back to watch the series you are streaming a bit. I just didn't feel connected to the story at all. While the story itself might get better, and be quite good (again, locked from playing more than 6 chapters), but I just couldn't feel like I was any part of it at all.

The career mode felt grindy. The team aspect slightly weird, but fair enough. I chose my team name, but that name didn't show up as the team name in the team standings. I liked the slightly insane amount of patterns to put on the cars. However, no sponsor decals from the sponsor you choose for you team will show up on the car, even with a custom livery.
Then again, it was the story mode that was the main thing for me when trying the game, not the career.

Gameplay...
Arcade doesn't mean too grippy and simple, but for some cars in GRID Legends it does. I did get a positive surprise when I joined a random online race and we were using the Electric Porsche. That car had a looong braking distance and needed to be driven while not being hard.

I decided to use an xbox one controller when trying the game. Because games like this (and for me, Forza Horizon etc.) are games that is easy to pick up and play a little bit. Just lay back in the gaming chair, pick up the controller and play for 20 min until the dinner is ready - or something like that. I also know that the xbox one controller has "Impulse Triggers". Or independent rumble motors on the triggers. What that means is that while the controller itself can vibrate to give feedback on bumps and so on. The triggers can separately rumble (or not) depending on feedback from the game.
What that means is that the controller itself can give feedback on slides, jumps, kerbs and so on, which the game does do, but it also lacks quite a bit of feedback.
More importantly, it means that the throttle-trigger can give feedback on loss of grip, wheelspin, while the brake-trigger can give feedback on locking wheels and similar. The Forza Horizon series does this, and it's a joy to drive without any assists while on a xbox controller, the feedback from the triggers makes it a viable thing to use, even with 1000hp and wild cars. You just get a feel.
That feel don't exist in GRID Legends, you get no trigger feedback, the controller rumble is not "on point". The game is much better to drive in bonnet/cockpit cam than chase cam, as with not much usable feedback, you need to rely on your eyes, and the way the camera handles the chase came, it makes it hard to control.

I really really really wanted this game to be good. It doesn't need sim-physics to be good (again, I love the mid 00's NASCAR games and V-Rally 3...), but the main selling point here for me was the story, and I never felt a part of it sadly.

If the game ever comes out proper on EA Play, or you got EA Play Pro already, then it's really not a waste of bandwith to DL it, nor is it a waste of hard drive space to install it.
I would not pay full price for the game though. Not at all.

TL;DR:
My 4 hour, genuine first try/first play from Tuesday evening-night.
Great job on this!
 
Thank you for all your valuable information. :)
An important question for me : could someone tell me if the game "Grid Legends" works without an internet connection (after downloading it from Steam) ?
Is the "offline" mode really operational with your game saves ? :unsure:

Thank you in advance for all your answers, I would like to check this feature before investing in the game.
 
....

Had some of my best online racing days in Toca Race Driver 2 :inlove:
and don't we remember it, good old DTM and Renault Clio Cup days. That game got me into playing racing games online, next step LFS, next step RACE (and Race Department's fabulous original Touring Car tournament) and then RACE07, rFactor, iRacing ...
So, yes, these games can be a great starting point for future sim-players, the more the better.
 

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