GRIP: Combat Racing stood out to me immediately. It felt as though I had seen these flat vehicles before, racing ahead on broad tires across the ground and ceiling. At first, I thought I was seeing Rollcage, a game I played in my younger days around the year 2000. A game I treasured and yearned to get my hands on again to enjoy that high speed action coupled with explosions. Other gamers might fondly remember Star Wars Podracer and Wipeout when it comes to fast-paced racing fun. My heart fluttered with delight to think Rollcage was being recreated. Although that’s not the case, I am impressed by GRIP: Combat Racing, developed by Caged Element Inc. and published by Wired Productions. This game delivers everything.
Usually I would fill this space with a gripping summary of how the story to a game begins, but not this time. The moment I loaded GRIP I burst into the garage to take a look at all the vehicles, and their customizations, presently available to me. Sure enough, and much to my delight, there were not many. This gave me something to work toward, something to achieve. The same applies to paint, decals, tires, and rims. All of them include unlockable styles, which you earn by leveling, and you do that by playing the game. We also have the option of tireless vehicles that hover. The player can save their customizations and load them later on.
Once the vehicle is chosen and customized to the player’s liking, time to move on. First on the list is Single Player. Race against up to nine NPCs, up to twenty laps, with multiple other settings to turn on or off. To prove this game is even made for beginners, a feature called Catchup Assistance can be turned on. Each track has a base difficulty, as well as adjustable difficulty for the other racers. Race types include Classic, all about coming in first, and Ultimate, coming in first by earning points, which are gained by shooting your opponents out of the sky with missiles and making long distance jumps. Most weapons include target guidance, and one will only target whoever is in first place. In Elimination mode do not get caught falling behind or the player is removed from the race. For pure racing without weapons, choose Speed Demon and the only pickup to be obtained is a speed boost. These race modes can all be turned into a Tournament. There’s also a Time Trial mode to beat lap times and master the tracks. GRIP features an Arena mode for Deathmatch, a chaotic battle. Carkour is exactly what it sounds like: Parkour with a car, frustrating but fun, and helps the player master more difficult maneuvers. Different tracks featuring loops and jumps will challenge your skill as a driver. All the previously mentioned modes are single player, but there is also multiplayer online, public or with friends only, and split screen.
Next on the list is Campaign. Includes eleven exciting Tiers, each with three or four tournaments of varying modes and requirements. Start out against two opponents and work up to nine in a Deathmatch Arena. The player is ranked, and whoever comes out on top wins. Go back through and replay any that you want to try and do better at, or start a new campaign. Visit the garage at any time to change out which vehicle you take into a Tournament.
A fast-paced game is nothing without some intense music to help get the blood pumping, sharpen the senses, and heighten awareness. The soundtrack is so great, it is even sold separately with 28 tracks to enjoy. A combination of electronica and techno. Heavy beats to jam to on their own, but when accompanied by the scenery zooming by as you race at over three hundred miles per hour, the graphics and music meld into one for an immersive experience. There’s an eerie, futuristic tone over the beat, which matches perfectly with the dystopian and sometimes science fiction appearance of the race tracks. Delve under water, soar through a space station, or roar over a rusty planet. Headphones are recommended for the best experience.
Utilizing the Unreal 4 Engine, GRIP’s graphics are beyond expectations. Blur is important when it comes to creating perfect immersion of a racing game without sacrificing visibility, especially in the distance to know what to prepare for next. Motion blur, radial blur, and shadow can be adjusted. Playing with mostly epic settings might have pushed my graphics card to the max. When a race loaded, the textures took a few seconds to show up. GRIP is also available for Virtual Reality, so the video options offer settings for that, too. During a race, the player can utilize a Reset for their vehicle in case they fall off the track or end up in a hopeless situation. This feature will automatically activate if the game recognizes you’re in a spot that is impossible to escape, or if you start flying off the track with no possibility of return. In most cases, it comes in handy, even if you end up a few positions further back than you were. However, there was more than one occasion that this happened to me for no reason, while I was sitting on the track facing the correct direction, and caused me to lose my momentum as well as my place. Speaking of direction, I once had the Wrong Way warning flash on my screen while I was, in fact, racing the same way as everyone else. The game does include some more real to life physics. When approaching speeds of around four hundred miles per hour, a single bump against an obstacle or twist of the wheel in the wrong direction can be detrimental, and it absolutely will be. Gliding against the guide rail or striking the side of an opponent will send the vehicle careening in all sorts of directions. Do not expect to shove opponents out of the way. It’s like they all weigh a ton. The same applies for the player’s vehicle, so no one can push by you either, but it makes getting ahead difficult at a crowded start line. Elements also play a factor, such as water, snow, and ice. One track even includes a whole bunch of electricity!
GRIP: Combat Racing is an exciting game to pick up, satisfy your need for speed, crunch out a few levels to gain more customizations, compete against a friend or stranger, and keep in your favorites for the next time you have the urge to go fast. There are multiple ways to play and several different vehicles to enjoy, but I will not say this is a game for everyone. There is nothing slow about this game, but it never felt entirely aggressive either. Overall, challenging when you want it to be, and fun when you just need to go for a really fast drive.