Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a hands on preview of a game called GRIP: Combat Racing (or GRIP for the rest of this piece). The game is being published by Wired Productions, a publisher with titles such as The Town Of Light and Victor Vran under their belt so I was understandably optimistic about GRIP. It was explained to be that the game is a spiritial successor of sorts to a PS1 game called Rollcage. Rollcage was somewhat of a cult game on the PS1, with some people reportedly keeping a PS1 demo disc because that was the only means they had of playing Rollcage. The series laid dormant for many years, until forums starting discussing the idea of creating a spiritual successor to Rollcage, and so GRIP was born.
The premise of GRIP is fairly simple. Street racing on Earth became increasing dangerous as advances in car modifications meant the cars were capable of higher and higher speeds. Street racing was clamped down on and as a result was moved to other planets. Planets seemingly uninhabited, where there was no risk to life. Drivers are in pods, away from the vehicle, meaning that they themselves are in no harm; and that’s a good thing believe me. The cars in GRIP are capable of achieving Mach 1 speeds and are capable of firing an arsenal of weapons (including rockets), so death is pretty much guaranteed at some point.
To make things easier for players the tracks each come with a rating from Easy to Hard. We began on an easy track; essentially a bowl (similar to a NASCAR track) so we could get to grips with the speed of the cars and the way that they control. We then moved on to progressively harder tracks. The harder tracks in GRIP feature many avenues to complete a lap of the track. Some are direct, some are high up and require jumping off ramps to reach them. It certainly offers the player a lot of freedom in terms of how they wish to race. The cars in GRIP are also capable of driving upside, which does come in handy. Certain sections of the track, such as tunnels, will have boosts or pickups on the side of the track, or even on the roof, so it helps to make use of this trick.
A track that sticks in my memory is Acrophobia. The track is created high in the air, with no barriers. It is extremely easy to fall of the side of the track, however once you get used to monitoring your speed it becomes slightly easier to traverse the track (only slightly easier as the track is still very difficult).
This track led us to be shown the Carkour mode, and yes it is exactly as it sounds. The object of the mode is simple; reach the end goal without falling off. Some of the tracks are easy with a few jumps. Others are ranked as Nightmare and look absolutely insane with loops and all sorts. Fall off the track and you’ll start the track again at the beginning, but with a fresh timer. It’s easy to see how addicting this mode could become, especially with the timer resetting when you fall off. It could very easily become a “Just one more go” mode.
After this we tried the Arena mode. This mode is similar to the arena modes in other games, such as in the Mario Kart series. An arena fills with players and your objective is just to destroy as many people as possible. Al of Wired Productions explained that a good way to do this is by supercharging your weapons. On PS4 (the console we primarily played on), weapons are fired by shooting R1 and L1 (R1 for right weapon, L1 for left weapon). By holding R1 you can use the left weapon to supercharge the right weapon, but at the expense of the left weapon which you will lose. This is an extremely effective strategy in the arena mode, and something that can be done in the races but may not be as effective.
Overall I enjoyed my time with GRIP. It’s a fun racing game that offers a lot of content to the player, but does definitely come with a slightly steep learning curve. It’s not a pick up and play game, it’s one that will require you to slowly adjust the difficulty. You can do this not only with the ratings on the tracks, but also with the engine power which can be increased or decreased before selecting the track. If you are a fan of high speed racers, or even of Rollcage, this is definitely one to play.