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CVG
19 Reviews

Race Driver: GRID

Steve Hill has cars in his eyes, buffs his helmet, etc, etc

Hello Stephen. Your car is ready and waiting." What? Hello? Me? The latest instalment in Codemasters' Race Driver series may not have become self-aware (yet) but there has been a change in emphasis.

Long-time fans may recall the often risible narrative that accompanied the earlier games, with the story relayed in ham-infested cutscenes, which history now judges as somewhere between mildly tolerable and a bit wank.

Memorably, there was one game in which your character was perennially harangued by a drunken Scotsman when all you really wanted to do was race a car.

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Not any more. You are you and if you can't find your name amidst the myriad of audio files - or if you fancy a more informal approach - you can opt to be known as one of several nicknames, be it Ace, Boss, Chief, Captain, Spanky or Stud.

In line with modern trends, it's part of GRID's attempt at personalisation, so your chosen moniker is used throughout the game, whether you're being barked at by your pit crew, or aurally caressed by your sassy manageress.

Why do you need a manageress? Because you're not just racing for the thrill of it, you're competing to earn cold hard cash, which you can then spend on more cars to earn more cash, get sponsors, and so on and so forth.

However, in typical rags-to-riches fashion, you begin the game with scarcely a pot to piss in, forced to eke out a living driving for other teams on a freelance basis.

In trademark Race Driver style, you're immediately thrown in at the deep end, stuck behind the wheel of a Dodge Viper on the streets of San Francisco.

This is certainly a baptism of fire, and the chances are you'll make an absolute pig's ear of it, grossly misjudging the power of the car and careering haplessly into the crash barrier.

But this doesn't matter. Using the physics-defying Flashback feature, you can reverse time to the point prior to you losing control and pretend that it never happened.

In the event, it makes no difference where you finish, as simply competing in the first race earns you a rookie license.

Travel Sick

This license gives you options, namely the chance to drive for various racing teams in the USA, Europe or Japan.

One event in each territory becomes available, with a fee awarded for competing in it, as well as a range of bonuses for finishing above a certain position.

As explained by your enigmatic off-screen manageress, the goal is to earn 40 grand, at which point you can set up your own team and have a proper stab at global domination.

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In game terms, it's a minor taster of what's to come, with each territory featuring five locations, all playing host to bespoke events.

So in the US of A, there's an emphasis on muscle cars and tight city-based street racing, with a range of tracks situated in the likes of San Francisco, Washington and Detroit.

As for Europe, it's more traditional TOCA fare that sees you tackle some classic circuits such as Donington, Nurburgring and Spa (Francorchamps in Belgium, not Leamington).

Japan is a different bag altogether, featuring no less than three different types of drift event, which, as Need For Speed fans will attest, involve sliding your car round in an irresponsible fashion in order to accrue points.

Japan is also host to the Touge (pronounced "too gay") races, one-versus-one affairs that see you race over two legs up and down a windy hill track, with the aggregate time proving decisive and penalties added for contact.

By way of variation, the Midnight Touge is an illegal event where anything goes and other traffic is on the road.

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