I don't write much reviews, but I feel that this game needs one from me.
I have followed the development of this game closely, and everything I read made me believe this was going to be a good game. So naturally I pre-ordered the game. I never have been someone who buys a DLC, though a pre-order bonus is something I usually take.
First impression is that they did listen. This is a game with good graphics, and cars handle as they should. Not unlike in Grid 2, that if you learn how to slide in every corner, you are guaranteed going to be faster than everyone. I started doing multiplayer directly. I learned that like in every multiplayer game, the sooner you start with multiplayer, the easier it is, because you get access to the faster cars earlier. I started out doing streets discipline because that is what I loved from Grid2 most too.
This worked for me. I like the cars and the tracks I drove were nice. It did seem the same tracks were in the rotational though, but on the forums they mentioned to do something about that. It immediately came to me that this game has a steep learning curve. Nothing you do will guarantee you to win and many things just don't seem to work and you have to figure out why. For that reason I wrote a beginners guide to Multiplayer with all the do's and don'ts. A lot of people are thankful to me because it answered many questions they had.
If a game has this, that is not a good sign, but lets try and keep things positive. I mean, you learn how it works, and then it works.
My first encounter with the AI
I started doing Open Wheels with a friend in custom lobbies with AI to fill up the spots. This is where I found out that CodeMasters made a big mistake with this game. The AI is badly programmed. They say they are very fond of how the AI is, and that it is very realistic. This is a lie. The AI really is AI (artificial) It follows the racingline, and if you happen to be there, they are happy to crash into you pushing you away. They'll get you to spin off the tarmac easily, and if you try that with them, they seem not to be harmed at all. They break early so you easily crash into them unless you take the inside corner and use them as a moving wall.
Damage system VS AI
Grid multiplayer has a damage system. Basically, when you damage your car, at the end of the race you have to repair your car which costs money. The real problem with this is that the AI does not seem to care and happily crashes into you, causing you to have a high bill to pay. There is also the impact rating that tells other drivers how clean you drive. Even if you attempt to avoid all contact, the AI easily can cause such accident that your rating becomes yellow, causing other players to think you are a bad driver.
Then there are the racenet challenges. They suffer the same problem: They included the AI in most of the races, and you start at position 12. This means that it is no longer a race to get the fastest time, but to find out how you can effectively take over 11 cars in the first 2 corners. The faster you do that, the faster your time is. Thats all there is to it really. CodeMasters has mentioned that they'll look into this, but CodeMasters also mentioned they really love the AI and are not planning to make any changes to it. Lets hope they decide to remove the AI completely.
I did some single player too. I started doing Streets as that is what I did in Multiplayer too. I had to learn how to adjust to the AI. I basically learned that: crashing is good, do everything you have to do to get in front of the AI as quickly as possible trying to minimize the damage as much as possible, and you will guaranteed win. Of course, everyone else learns this too, and they take these experiences to multiplayer. Yes, this game has a lot of crashes and rammers in multiplayer too. You'll have to find custom lobbies if you want to avoid this.
Good points vs Bad Points
There are other issues too that are small problems and thus not worth having a section per item. I'll list them as good and bad points.
- Good graphics
- Physics of the cars are very good.
- When you start a race, you get to see the map so you always know what the track is going to be like
- You can enable raceline which helps greatly in learning the cars and tracks, both in SP and MP.
- Most settings are shared between SP and MP.
- AI behavior vs you
- AI in multiplayer vs repair costs
- AI in Racenet Challenges, doesn't make sense, see above.
- Keyboard players have a big disadvantage over controller players in Endurance (basically, forget this mode all together)
- Big learning curve
- Time spent waiting too long
- MP, time before first race can easily go up to 10 minutes if you're out of luck, but on average it is 5 minutes or more)
- Game says cockpit view, but it isn't really a cockpit view. No working dials, everything blurred.
- Assists aren't really assists. Except for ABS, the rest makes you go slower and loose bonus points, giving a false sense of help.
- Menu system is hard to navigate and reponds slow.
- Quitting MP takes a lot of time, you cannot quit when you want to and have to wait for a certain moment before you can quit. ALT-F4 works, but you'll loose your progress.
- Cheating happens in MP, even though CodeMasters are banning cheaters.
Long story short... Grid Autosports on paper is this: the best things from Grid1 and Grid2 together. The actual outcome however isn't this. With a short development time for this game, yet a full price, it is clear the game is a quick job trying to generate money because of the negativity around Grid2.
For who is this game?
If you are very good at racing games and you want a bit of realism, yet you want to have a challenge, you'll love this game. If you are not very good at racing games, this game just isn't going to make you happy. Any other racing game will do it, just not this one. If you don't want too much realism in how your car drives, this game is not for you either. Grid1 might be, Grid2 definitely is going to be. If you have raced a lot in Assetto Corsa, this game is not gonna do it for you. If you race with keyboard and do not have/want to drive with a controller (gamepad or steeringwheel), this game is going to be harder for you. Can still be fun but you'll have a disadvantage in certain disciplines.
If you want to get this game solely for multiplayer, I would not recommend it, because the racenet challenges are an important part of multiplayer, (gives you the most XP/money in a short timespan) and right now, the racenet challenges are crap.
I hope this review helped you make a decision. I didn't made the decision lightly to write this review, but I feel I have to.