Remember the 90's? A time where RTS, platformers, and racers reigned supreme? How about a racing sub-genre? Combat racing? Ring any bells? It's a genre that lost it's popularity as pure racing games steered toward realism, and racing and driving have become only a feature among many other in
games across many genres. I remember a time when Interstate 82 and Rollcage filled me with the joy of vehicular combat for hours on end. As time went by, I saw a racing combat game pop up here and there, mostly on consoles and some games featured the racing + collecting power-ups feature but didn't find one on the PC that intrigued me enough to give it a go. Until I saw GRIP.
GRIP is available for purchase at Steam for 15,99€.
Since racing games almost unanimously feature no story, and when they do, its Need For Speed Carbon cringe worthy, let's skip this part here as again. There is no story to speak of, except the premise of it being a futuristic live TV show. You select one out of 6 vehicles on offer. Customize their color, rims, and tires. The vehicles are futuristic and currently, all models feature a fairly similar design but offer very noticeable differences in their speed, acceleration, handling, and toughness. Select a game mode. Classic race, where the first one to the finish the designated number of laps, wins. Ultimate Race, where you gain points by smashing and destroying your opponents as well as skillful driving while racing a designated number of laps. Elimination, where each lap eliminates the last player. Time trial, arena death match, and amusingly named "Carkour" where you navigate across complicated tracks, essentially making it a car platformer.
Currently, there are 8 racetracks, 3 arenas, and 15 Carkour courses and each comes with a couple different variations (different parts of tracks, tracks in reverse, etc.) After selecting all that, it's time to jump into the cockpit. My first vehicle of choice is all about the speed and I fail the race miserably as I wasn't ready for the kinds of speed the games has you driving at. Vehicles easily hit speeds of up to 1000 km/ph and you can drive on ceilings and walls so imagine my confusion at the frenetic things happening before my eyes as I speed like a maniac across every surface imaginable while being bombarded with missiles left and right.
Let me just stop for a second here, I must say that the sense of speed GRIP offers is amazing. You truly feel the breakneck speed and effects that tie into that sense look great. The vehicles are also able to drive perfectly well once they flip so you don't lose any momentum unless you frontal smash into an obstacle. I try my luck with a vehicle that's all about the handling this time and a track designated as "easy". I immediately get better results. My vehicle of choice makes quick and sharp turns, controls better, and is overall more fun to use since I don't hit top speed as soon as before. The competition speeds past me and I'm left relying on pickups to up my game. So far, the game features 4 weapons, a homing missile, machine gun, mines and another type of rocket and 3 power-ups, a shield, turbo, and EMP with plenty more to come.
Some of the weapons on offer pack a good punch and work fine, others, not so much. I found my homing rockets rarely locked on to vehicles and my EMP to only marginally slow down my opponents. Also, sometimes my vehicle would flip with no apparent reason, or just float away from the track to fall into nothingness. A quick reset vehicle button promptly fixed most of my woes but they were still noticeable.
The devs seem responsive to criticism and assure the fan base that they are working hard on implementing a better physics model, new weapons and a full-scale destruction model among other. The game features a multiplayer component that is still designated a work in progress although you can access it in-game. Sadly, I had trouble finding matches and don't know is it due to the lack of players, or feature not functioning properly yet. A working multiplayer would most certainly add immensely to this already great game.
Visuals and audio
GRIP uses Unreal Engine 4 and it shows. The game runs surprisingly smooth, even with the screen filled with vehicles and explosions and I'm always quick to applaud a small team of devs that bring this much visually fidelity to a game that is not yet finished. The textures are sharp and the effects are bright and colorful. The stages look good but lack variety and would benefit from a wider color palette. I must mention the kickass soundtrack. The tracks on offer are mainly fast action Drum n Bass that perfectly complement the frenetic action often happening on the screen.
GRIP is a big ball of nostalgia that harkens back to the action racing games of old. It takes a familiar formula and gives it a shining new look and feel for the players of today. I can highly and without reservations recommend it to fans of this genre of games as well as the pure racing enthusiasts. As always, set your expectations accordingly for any Early Access game as there are bugs and unfinished features but this one is a sure bet and you won't be sorry for supporting its development.