Arcade racers are far and few between these days, as more developers seem to be focusing more on authenticity. But when those little “blasts from the pasts” come along, they’re worth appreciating. Codemasters’ OnRush, for example, immediately comes to mind and is well worth the play.
But then we have GRIP: Combat Racing, a game that easily caters to fans of the original PlayStation racing game Rollcage. In it, you’re in control of a race car that’s not only easily maneuverable, but has the thankful ability of racing around on either side. That means if you flip the vehicle over, you can drive it the same way even if it lands upside down. And what’s more, you can race on walls and ceilings, gravity be damned. That doesn’t make for an entirely polished racing experience, but fans of old-school racing endeavors will easily welcome this game into their library.
After going through a tutorial that walks you through the basics, you’re thrust into a series of tournaments where the goal is to get a first place victory, for the most part. There are adaptations of the rules, like occasional time trials and other little changes, but really, it’s about keeping up the speed ahead of the competition. And not only are you capable of using boosts within your vehicle, but you can pick up perks on the track that give you a chance to gain the lead.
The racing is good fun, though it can be frustrating at times. While your vehicle is durable and able to jump around the race track with ease, it’s also capable of flying off the race track if you’re not careful, or losing momentum entirely with a small collision. This should’ve been put into consideration with the game’s development, perhaps introducing us to more enclosed spaces, or, at the very least, tubes that would allow us to race around opponents without flying off into God knows where.
The game does have a variety of courses with intuitive design, so even if one track isn’t your, ahem, speed, then another certainly will be. And while the post-apocalyptic theme has been worn out in most games, it looks surprisingly fresh in Grip, and is backed by a solid frame rate to boot. These devs went all out, and it shows.
GRIP looks surprisingly good on both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, with a zippy amount of detail and some beautiful HDR support. But it also holds up rather well on the general systems too; and the Switch version isn’t too bad, even if its design scales back a bit on a smaller screen.
In addition to single player races, GRIP also provides some decent battle arena action, where you can take on other players with various weapons and conditions that change where you drive around on the track. It’s a good thing to keep an eye out for ramps that can flip you onto another platform, providing a different strategy from what you’d find in other games of this nature. It’s not entirely laden with competitors, but it’s worth a try if you’re in the mood for a fight.
And what’s more, progressing through the game can earn you more goods for your GRIP-py car. These include decals, tires and rims that you can customize however you see fit, along with new models that can really upgrade your game, depending on speed and power.