05th Nov2018

‘Grip: Combat Racing’ Review (PS4)

by Britt Roberts

grip-ps4-cover

I vividly remember Rollcage on the PS1, back when I was in my teens I would often play it with my uncle and the way that the cars would flip, barrel-roll and bounce around, whilst always hurtling forwards sticks in my mind as a good memory. What also sticks in my mind was a couple of years ago when I picked up Rollcage at a car boot sale and popped it in again, after almost twenty years and couldn’t even make it around the first couple of corners due to the insane level of pop-in, rose tinted spectacles graced not my face. When I was offered GRIP: Combat Racing for review and discovered that the original developers of Rollcage were involved, I must admit it appealed to me and, although there are some caveats here, the game and style have stood the test of time pretty well in this modernised incarnation.

For those unfamiliar with Rollcage, it was a futuristic racing game in which the cars had huge wheels that allowed them to flip over and continue forwards, creating a constant sense of momentum (I remember a line of RC cars that did the same thing), it felt a more earthy version of Wipeout and featured a similar pumping techno soundtrack that I’m pretty sure every game in the genre used (although I’ll take anything over the American pop-punk that dominated racing games in the early 2000’s, in-game music with lyrics? No, please, no) and had a breakneck pace to boot.

GRIP: Combat Racing is essentially an update of the Rollcage formula. With four player local racing (sadly, a rarity in these times) as well as online modes and a string of unlockable vehicles and items, it also has more depth than its predecessor as well as sporting tasty new graphics and, naturally…. a techno sound track.

With over sixteen tracks playable at day or night, in reverse and the addition of a surprisingly engaging destruction derby mode, there’s quite a lot to get your teeth into here with only a few odd design choices on the way.

Firstly, after a multiplayer race, the game takes you straight back to the main menu, it’s only a small niggle, but when you are having a session on the game for a couple of hours, it quickly becomes irritating when you have to keep going through the menus, it seems to be a common-sense thing that, after a race the game should take you back to the track selection. On top of this, the design of the tracks can sometimes be confusing, needing a couple of run-throughs to get to grips with them as they can not only be quite open but also have multiple paths, this can lead to a player completely missing a turn and getting reset on the track quite a number of times before you feel comfortable with the various courses (nicking the edge of a surface and spinning out can also be costly, due to an oddly-locked camera view in these circumstances).

Spicing up the racing is the inclusion of various weapons and collectable abilities such as slow-down, missiles, etc. These are a mainstay in any games that I personally play but more classic racing fans will be pleased to know that you have the option to disable them, if you wish. The game also not only has a variety of difficulty levels but also speeds, knocking the speed up can lead to some eye-wateringly swift action, leaving some corners and jumps more to reflex than anything else, resulting in some seriously exhilarating races.

GRIP: Combat Racing is a solid throwback to the late 90’ and digs its wheels into nostalgia hard. If you are a fan of rough and tumble speed-driven offerings, the pick up and play approach of the game is for you and is definitely one for the Rollcage fans. There is no new ground here however, and those looking for a deep, technical experience may be turned off by the leaning towards fun as opposed to seriousness…but I doubt that anyone came for that, anyway.

All in all? A flipping good time.

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