Final Lap, I’m On Top Of The World 

HIGH Accessible racing and an interesting story mode presentation. 

LOW  It lacks content, and the story doesn’t go as far as I would hope.  

WTF Why release this the same day as Elden Ring and a week before Gran Turismo 7? 

Codemasters’ Grid series has always been an interesting one in the racing genre. Hewing close to arcade racers like Need for Speed and Forza Horizon thanks to its smooth handling and easy braking system, it also manages to take a lot from simulations like Gran Turismo or Assetto Corsa. Players are able to finely tune everything from the cars to the difficulty, and Grid Legends continues this trend of marrying two wildly different subgenres into one enjoyable racer.  

Legends is the fifth installment in this long-running series and it introduces one major new addition to the franchise — a story mode. Taking inspiration from sports documentaries like Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive, players control Driver 22, an unseen and unnamed addition to the fictional Seneca Motorsport team. Banking on a miracle to win the eponymous GRID World Series, the team sees this rookie as their ticket to glory. 

Told via live-action cutscenes that are shot like a documentary, the story aims to provide drama and context for every race. While I enjoy the presentation and the cheesy dialogue, I really do wish they went further with the drama — I would have loved a more dynamic and over-the-top delivery throughout the whole thing.

For example, most of the cutscenes are just quick interviews and testimonials from the racers. They’ll occasionally trash talk their competition or even speak about the player character, but there’s nothing else there. It would have been cool to see an ESPN 30 for 30-style documentary that dug deep into this specific kind of sport, complete with real-world context for the time in which it takes place. The game is set during the 2020-2021 season, so it would have been great to specifically reflect that. 

Despite how safe the story plays out, the real star of the show is racing. Throughout the campaign, players compete in different types of events, including time trials where players need to beat a certain time in a course or a standard circuit race. Every event also has a certain condition that needs to be met in order to advance, like placing at a certain point or beating a specific racer. It kept me on my toes, and it helped that the quality of the racing felt approachable.

On the “normal” difficulty, I was able to make sharp turns and maneuver in ways similar to the best arcade racers without feeling like the cars were too floaty. There’s also a great rewind feature that can be used to correct mistakes, though players are only given three per race. They help, but the limit means that they can’t be used as a replacement for learning to drive better.  

What this mode also excels at is getting players comfortable in different event types and disciplines. I was racing in trucks, electric cars, touring cars, and plenty of others. Like the campaign, every race had its own conditions, yet all allowed for different strategies. My favorite event was elimination, in which racers had to avoid being ejected from the race by moving up in position. The tension of making sure I was fast enough coupled with the aggression of the AI made it a highlight. 

This AI also plays a huge part in the experience, with the “nemesis” system from 2019’s Grid returning. Basically, if a player keeps bumping into an AI-controlled car, that specific car will become more hostile and do everything in its power to overtake the player. However, even alongside the non-nemesis cars, seeing the other competitors outmaneuver each other was a cool sight, and something I haven’t seen others in the genre do. 

That same attention to detail also extends to the presentation of Grid Legends. The roar of the engines sounds great and every car has a distinct purr. I especially loved that switching between the third-person and first-person driver seat perspective meant that the sound reflected it –and hearing the muffled roar of an engine from the inside of a supercar is a wild thing. I also loved how great the damage looked when races got too rough, and driving past the front bumper that came off my car in the previous lap was a neat thing. 

Every race nets players XP and a currency that can be used to buy more cars to fill up a garage. Races also allow players to earn XP for certain disciplines, allowing them to unlock specific cars for those respective events. Other modes in the package include standard quick races and online modes. There’s also a race creator, though I’m disappointed to say that there aren’t a lot of tracks available to choose from. The lack of tracks is also a problem in the scripted campaign as well. Players will be mostly racing on the same few tracks with the same few car types.

Playing through Grid Legends’ story mode was a treat — at times I felt like I was a part of a real team with drama and stakes. I would have liked to see it expanded, but the driving is really what players are here for, and in that regard, Grid Legends is a real winner.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by Electronic Arts and developed by Codemasters. It is available on PS4/PS5, XBO/X/S, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 10 hours were spent in the single-player and the story mode was completed. An hour was spent in the multiplayer. 

Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated  E10+  for Mild Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Mild Language. The game’s story mode has some mild cursing (“badass” and “damn”) and a few dramatic moments. Without spoiling anything, there are few violent scenes, but nothing too graphic. Despite this, I’d say that it’s perfectly fine for young kids who like racing games. 

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions cannot be adjusted or resized. Audio is not needed to enjoy this game, thanks to the abundance of visual cues and subtitles in the cutscenes and gameplay. My feeling is that this game is fully accessible. 

Remappable Controls: Yes the controls are remappable.

Cj Salcedo
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