Ahead of its launch in a few weeks, we take a last look at Codemasters upcoming racing title.
In a month, the next instalment in the Codemasters Grid series, this time called Legends, will be released. Before the launch, we got to take a look and play a section of the story mode. The developers succeeded with the story in F1 2021 where we got to follow an interesting tale of the newcomer Aiden Jackson who tried to break through in F1. In the way stood a cocky rival and a teammate who still had something to prove before he retired. Given that this was unanimously praised, it was perhaps not so strange that they are now also making an attempt with a real story mode in the upcoming Grid Legends as well.
The big difference here is that all cut scenes are with real actors instead of computer-generated versions. The characters are just as "over the top" as we expect where the opponents are of course really evil and the good guys are really, really good. The whole thing is filmed as a documentary, with various interviews, based on the big crash that starts off the whole story. We get to play as Driver 22, one of the main characters in the crash sequence that starts off the game.
Seneca Racing is a small racing team-underdog with big problems. Manager Marcus Ado has a "moneyball" attitude where, instead of hiring famous superstars, he instead invests in young talent, which of course does not cost as much. But this also comes from his background where his parents own a Nigerian restaurant where the most important thing is not to have the best or most expensive ingredients, but to hire the right people. This is something Ado has brought into the racing world, and it feels just as ridiculous as it sounds. However, when the game starts off, the team is basically at rock bottom. With the departure of the second driver, Ado must find a new driver. This is where our character comes into the picture. During a race in London, Ado is on site to look for a new star, a driver who is someone completely different from Driver 22. By impressing in the race, however, he is invited to race for the team. The only problem is that the chief engineer is both a genius and a maniac, and as he himself puts it, he creates cars that are better than everyone else, and the only challenge is to find someone who can drive them. The championship gives us a chance to test several different car types, such as touring cars and stadium trucks on tracks around the world, based on real places and some fictional city circuits, as per standard in the Grid-franchise.
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The first race is in London and it takes place in the city centre where we go past the London Eye and Westminster. But we also get to head to central Moscow, Paris and the Yokohama port in Japan, among other places. The places are well recreated and if you have been to one of the locations yourself, you will of course recognise lots of landmarks and clever designs. The finished game will have 250 career events, 130 tracks (many of course in the same place, but with different routes) and over 100 different cars to drive.
With a track creator and cross-platform for multiplayer, Legends seems to be able to offer a lot of variety. However, it is with the condition that certain things are cleaned up and fixed during this last month before release. While many small things will of course be fixed, it is the driving feel itself that is the biggest question mark for me, at this point. The driving simply does not seem to be where it should be, yet. It feels very jerky and not as fluid as an arcade racing game should be in, for example, acceleration or steering. The various jumps that exist around some tracks also do not give the reaction that is expected and the landings give off a powerless feeling without heft or any heaviness. In previous previews of the game, we have criticised the graphics and it is probably also something that should still be pointed out. The cut scenes look lovely, but on the track it is not really as polished as we think it needs to be. However, we must remember that the game will be released in a month, so there is still time for Codemasters to fix this.