GRIP: Combat Racing - Xbox One Review

There are a lot of things that GRIP: Combat Racing gets right. The most important of which is probably the 'fun factor' that comes with the game's high speed carnage. GRIP makes a great first impression despite some mostly average visuals. The biggest issue facing GRIP is that the experience is a somewhat shallow one that might not encourage gamers to come back to it time and again. In a nutshell: I like GRIP - I just don't love it.

Upon first firing GRIP up, it becomes clear that the development team has a great understanding of how to make a game feel fast and frantic. There is a sort of kinetic energy that GRIP is simply crackling with right away. The cars remind me of those crazy radio controlled ones from my childhood that are flat, wide and have oversized tires so that when they tip over or hit a wall and flip, they can immediate take off again regardless of whether they are upside down or not. However, the development team took things a step further, creating cars that are capable of challenging gravity as they pull of wall riding, ceiling circling antics along the way. This is an arcade racing game through and through.

There is a decent amount of single player content in the career mode, which provides lots of race types, if not a ton of different tracks. There is a nice sense of progression through the rankings and with the different kinds of vehicles available and various cosmetic unlockables. At first I assumed the different rides would be most cosmetic in difference - after all, vehicle structure is pretty similar as I noted above. However, the different types of events you participate in can necessitate a change in vehicle that provides some depth to the decision making. I just wish there were more tracks, and some of the level designs work better than others. I felt that GRIP was at its best during the tighter tracks that offered some anti-gravity hijinks (hence the title name. You have plenty of traction here - your vehicle will stick to to surfaces pretty much no matter what).

Tracks can get a little weird when they are more open in the environment. While the camera does a good job of staying with your ride regardless of your current flipping around antics, there are some tracks that are just too wide open for their own good. There is a very specific path you should take through these, but it is difficult to discern this early on. Worse yet, it makes that wasted, open world-esque space completely wasted later too, because deviating from the best path is going to cost you a win. Couple this with a somewhat low number of tracks, and we have one of the biggest weaknesses in the game.

There is something of a Wipeout vibe that GRIP: Combat Racing gives off as well. The power-ups range from guns to speed boosts to improved shields and more and though the racing is itself technically spent mostly on the ground, GRIP conveys speed in the same way. There is a bit of strategy to how the power-ups should be used. Obviously there are some instances where a missile is more helpful than a shield and so on, but you can actually carry two power-ups and you can melt one down to boost the other, giving it a bit more kick if a particular tool is especially appropriate for the situation. As one might think from a name of 'Combat Racing', there is also an arena / combat mode not unlike a Mario Kart game (though perhaps with the big-wheeled, car-flipping aesthetic, something like Rocket League might be a closer match visually). In theory this should be a high point, but I simply did not enjoy it as much as the true racing experience.

The presentation here is not going to wow anyone either. On the one hand, visually there is a nice sense of speed and while I was playing the game myself, I did not often take note of how plain some of the environments looked upon closer inspection. There are also instances of visual clipping that hurt the immersion of the moment. The sound of the engines is well and good, even if most of the other ambient sound effects and music were nothing special.

The actual gameplay of GRIP: Combat Racing is pretty entertaining. That it supports local multiplayer makes it an ideal game to play with some friends, and the easy-to-pick-up nature of the game is almost begging for some party play. That being said, the actual career mode is mostly cosmetic in progression and the number of tracks is a bit light, with even fewer really good tracks out of that collection. Some nice twists on race modes help to provide some variety to those same repeating tracks, but that sameness when mixed with somewhat shallow modes and options and an average presentation kept GRIP from being so compelling that I have to play it often or over very long stretches of time. It is a fun experience, if a somewhat shallow one.

Game Information

Xbox One
Caged Element Inc.
Wired Productions
Other Platform(s):
PlayStation 4

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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