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Grid Legends is the latest racing entry from Codemasters. Codemasters is best known for fun arcade racing games, specifically the DIRT franchise. Grid is a racing franchise that has been around since 2008 with its first title, Race Driver: Grid, which focuses on tight arcade racing, followed by a sequel in 2013, Grid 2. A year later, Grid: Autosport was released, which focused more on authentic racing, and in 2017 the fourth installment came out, aptly named Grid. Now fast forward to today, and we are looking at their 5th and latest release - Grid Legends.https://youtu.be/Mqrd_L6N9_g
What does Grid Legends offer this time around, and how does it move forward compared to previously released titles? Honestly, I haven't played the previous games and will admit that for the sake of transparency. I do know that the main selling point of Grid Legends is its Career mode and Driven to Glory story mode. So let's discuss these two subjects in our review alongside some of the visual and audio features, followed by our final verdict for Grid Legends.
When you boot up Grid Legends for the first time, you have a choice on whether to play the Driven to Glory story mode or your classical Career mode, which consists of a ton of events with many different car types and conditions. Driven to Glory is unique and different from something you are used to in most racing games. In this mode, the player will be watching live-action cut-scenes that consist of many real-life actors who portray different characters. In short, it is a much more narrative-driven experience and influenced by Netflix's documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive.
While it seemed like an interesting idea on paper, watching a bunch of cut scenes after almost every event in a racing game doesn't hype me up or keep me interested. I could care less about what drama the character is going through in a racing game. If I wanted something more story-driven, I'd play games such as The Last of Us Part II or God or War. I don't quite understand the point of developing and creating high-budget live-action scenes for a racing game. Most people, including myself, merely want to race and enjoy the cars. In a racing game, the most important characters should be the cars and the locations you drive them in, not real-life actors who attempt to create a narrative. I watched a few scenes, but after about six or so events, I started skipping them because I wanted to earn credits and level up my profile ranking instead of wasting time watching pointless scenes. There are 36 events throughout the entire story mode, so it is quite a lot of content.
Drive to Glory mode will take you anywhere between 4-7 hours, depending on how good you are at racing games and what difficulty setting you choose. Hours may vary based on if the player is rushing, always getting 1st place, which is easy, even on medium difficulty, and if you are skipping the cut-scenes or not.
However, on the other hand, Career Mode is where you will have the most fun. This mode consists of many different events starting with Rookie, which has more events within. As you go through these events, you can eventually upgrade your vehicles to higher tiers depending on how much mileage you have accumulated in a particular car. Unlocking higher tiers will also unlock more events for you to play in. These events may vary from your typical lap circuits, time trials, and elimination matches where the last car standing wins.
As with most racing games, the player will also earn credits for new vehicles and individual upgrades. Credits accumulate in Driven to Glory and Career modes, so your time is never wasted. Grid Legends also has a mechanic where you can upgrade your racing team. As you level up your account and earn credits, you can unlock permanent boosts to different things in the Mechanic Development tree, such as reducing Sponsorship requirements or reducing pricing upgrades for vehicles. The Teammate Development tree lets players perform better in a race against the AI.
Equipping Sponsorships objectives ask you to complete different challenges like driving a specific number of kilometers in a specified type of car, performing slingshot actions, and completing races at night. Once completed, you will receive new vehicles made only available through sponsorships.
In the Social menu, you can join a quick race, search for a session to join, and create your own session. Last but not least, you can find and add your EA friends for some private games. You may use the Race Creator menu to create your own custom races to race in with your buddies. You may customize laps, drivers, conditions, routes, location, vehicles, class, and disciple. Grid Legends has several venues, including Barcelona, Brands Hatch, Chicago, Crescent Valley, Dubai, Havana, Indianapolis, London, Moscow, Mount Panorama, and more. It is also possible to modify advanced options such as terminal damage, flashbacks, AI difficulty, grid order, and enabling vehicle and mechanical upgrades.
Grid Legends is a cross-gen game, and it looks and plays decently on the new-generation consoles. The art style is pretty much the same as previous games, not super realistic but also not too unrealistic either, but somewhere in-between. The game runs well on the Xbox Series X at what seems to be locked 60 with sharp image quality and without any flickering, stuttering, or weird graphical issues.
The audio is okay, but nothing noteworthy or memorable. The soundtrack is dull for the most part, and there is not a good tracklist or anything remotely interesting to listen to while you race, so it's a bit of a bummer. The car engines are alright. It seems that most of the audio budget went towards the voice actors and the narrated live series for the Driven to Glory storyline rather than actual in-game car engine sounds or background music, which is a shame for a racing game. Then again, that is just an assumption and not a fact. Overall, I was not impressed with the audio in Grid Legends. Titles such as Forza Horizon 5 and Gran Turismo 7 have a far better audio offering for a racing game.
If you are looking for a fun arcade racer with tight controls and good car handling but do not mind the forced live-action story mode, Grid Legends might be for you. While the game won't impress your friends with its visuals or audio, it does provide a lot of content, thanks to the career mode, social play, and race creation. The nice thing about Grid Legends is that it's a very accessible game for any player that enjoys racing games. However, if you are looking for something more stimulating and hardcore, Gran Turismo 7 would be a better pick. If you enjoy titles such as Forza Horizon 5, which are more on the arcade side, then you might as well add this one to your collection. Grid Legends will be receiving a final score of 8.0 out of 10.