This review was written using a review code provided to me via the game’s PR agency. This does not affect my judgement of the game and this message is included for the purpose of transparency.
GRIP Combat Racing (which well refer to as GRIP from now on) is a game with an interesting story behind it. The game is somewhat of a spiritual successor to PS1 game Rollcage. The series had lied dormant for many years, before buzz began in forums about creating a game to bring the series back to life. It was from this that GRIP was born. The game is published by Wired Productions, a publisher who we have reviewed a few times on this site. They are publishers of titles such as Victor Vran and The Town of Light, the latter of which I personally really enjoyed. Having played some of the game at a preview event a short while back, my hopes for the full game were high.
The plot of the game is one that I dont recall seeing explained in the actual game, but something that was explained to me at the preview event. Street racing on Earth gradually got more and more dangerous as the cars became faster and faster. As a result street racing was something that was made harder and harder to do, and so was moved to other planets which are uninhabited. If there are no people to harm, then the speed of the cars is irrelevant. It was decided that having humans inside of a car armed with rockets and capable of Mach 1 speeds probably wasn’t the best of ideas. The drivers instead are in pods, away from the vehicle, so that when the vehicle is hit by a rocket or goes shooting off the track at 500+ mph there is no harm to the driver.
GRIP also allows the player to drive the car on any surface. This is something that comes in very handy. When driving in a tunnel things can get pretty hectic. Mini guns are especially effective in a tunnel, if all of the cars are bunched up together. What I found myself doing was when things got too much, I would drive on the roof of the tunnel. There are also areas where there are boosts on the ceiling, which is handy when you’re in 4th and the people ahead have grabbed all the pickups.
GRIP features a pickup system. While racing around the track you will see green orbs floating. Drive through one of those and you will equip yourself with a pickup. These range from boosts, to homing missiles, to darts, to shields to protect the back of your car. I found all of these weapons to be useful, and there was never a time I found myself unhappy to see an item. Admittedly if I was in first I held onto my mini-gun or my missile. Something that I would have liked to have seen, which I did not see, were some instructions on how to supercharge your weapons.
This is something that was explained to me during my preview with the game. It is extremely easy to do, and simply involves the player having a weapon in both slots. Then should you wish to supercharge your missile on the right, you simply hold the right weapon button and a progress bar begins circling around the icon. Once it is finished you will lose the left weapon, but supercharge the right missile. This increases the power of the rocket, dealing more damage or increasing the boost length.
GRIP features a range of modes, but for the most part I played the game’s campaign mode. This isn’t what I would classify as a campaign mode as such, it’s more of a series of competitions that get progressively harder. The competitions come in a few shapes and sizes; some are standard races, some are races called Speed Demon races in which the only pickups are boosts, and some are arena battles where you are tasked with dealing damage to your opponents. All of which are enjoyable. The game also features a mode called Carkour. This mode is something completely different from the racing and battle arenas. The mode tasks the player with getting their vehicle from A to B. The challenge lies in the obstacles between A and B. Jumps, loops and more jumps make this mode extremely challenging, but also extremely fun. The mode definitely hooks you, and leaves you with that “One more go” feeling. Each time you fall off, your car is returned to the beginning. This just fuels the “One more go” mentality. Carkour is a mode I would highly recommend for anyone playing the game. It offers a nice, refreshing change to the typical racing the game offers.
In terms of negatives of GRIP, I have only one. This is a minor issue with the default controller layout. Playing this on my Xbox One, the default buttons were your standard layout; RT to accelerate, LT to brake. Standard stuff. For some reason though, the weapon triggers were RB and LB. This just did not feel comfortable to me, it didn’t feel natural. So I changed the settings. I made B my right weapon and X as my left button (this was a preset layout on the game). This felt much more natural. It made for quick access to both of my weapons, felt comfortable and made it easier to charge my weapons. Handbrake became RB, but that is fine as I didn’t need to hold it down like when you charge a weapon: you simply tap it to control your turns around a corner.
Overall GRIP is very fun to play. I did often find myself thinking that I would play one set of races after work, just get a bit of gaming in before bed. This was never the case, and I would find myself finally turning in for the night after 2 or 3 sets of races. It does draw you in and keep you playing, once you finally start playing. Unfortunately the single player element of the game isnt the most appealing part of GRIP. It is fun in its own right, but I feel that this game is one that is meant to be played with friends or with others online. Few friends over for a gaming night, whack this out and let the competitiveness of GRIP test your friendship. Definitely a party game, not one so much for the solo play.
GRIP Combat Racing (Xbox One)
GRIP Combat Racing is a fun, fast paced racing game. However the charm of the game slowly wears off when consistently playing solo. It feels like a game you would play solo to unlock vehicles etc, and then play with friends during a gaming night. Definitely one for those looking for a fun, local co-op racer.