If you are looking for a nostalgia trip in a current gen title, then Grip is the game for you. The developers of Grip describe it as an intense futuristic combat racing game inspired by the Rollcage series of the past (PC and Playstation).
Grip is developed by Caged Element and published by Wired Productions (Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Super Dungeon Bros, Victor Vran). Grip is Caged Element’s debut title and what a way to start!
If you have never played the Rollcage series, it is hard to describe Grip without comparing it to other combat racing games. It shares many similarities with the likes of Wipeout for example. With the exception that you won’t be in a vehicle that floats off the floor. No, with Grip you’ll have 4 big wheels to keep you on the track. The wheels are bigger than the body of the car meaning there is no top or bottom. This comes in handy if you ever flip the car as you can carry on racing. The main similarities to the combat racing games of old, stem from the gameplay. For example, racing at extreme speeds and the ability to pick up weapons and power ups.
In order to really reach those high speeds you have to hit special green boost pads tactically placed around each track. The adrenaline fuelled racing is complimented nicely by the fast paced drum and bass soundtrack courtesy of the spectacular Hospital Records.
There is a variety of weapons and power ups to pick up in a race. These pick-ups can be offensive (weapons like homing rockets or machine guns), defensive (a shield that can protect you from projectiles) or just something to get you back in the race (a speed boost). Each track has destructible environments, meaning you can blow a hole in certain parts of a track to create new routes.
There are 14 armoured cars of various designs to choose from. Each one has different stats to the other (max speed, acceleration, grip, brakes and strength). You can change the colours of the car, add decals or even change the tyre tread. Other cars, decals and tyres are unlocked by progressing through the game.
The settings for each circuit are visually stunning. Each are set in a unique and awe inspiring environment. Grip really makes use of the Unreal 4 engine and does not fail to deliver on some truly amazing looking environments. The tracks will see you racing in settings around barren deserts, cities surrounded by tall skyscrapers or Arctic icy wastelands to name a few. All the tracks have curved tunnel type sections. So with the physics engine in the game, if you are travelling at a fast enough speed, you can race on the walls or ceilings of the tracks. The developers explain that this is Carkour (Get it? Parkour for cars).
As you would expect from most racing games, there are numerous game modes available. However Grip offers more than you would expect. There is a lot to choose from.
In campaign mode you will enter the Grip League. There are a number of different tiers within the league to which you can progress through once you have completed the tournaments for that tier. Each of the tournaments has a number of different events. Each event has a different difficulty setting, pick-ups available and number of opponents. The event type also varies from each race.
There are 5 different race types in Grip: Classic (a race with all pick-ups available), Ultimate (points awarded for the most destruction on your opponents), Elimination (the racer in last place is eliminated every 30 seconds), Time Trial and Speed Demon (pure racing with only speed boost pick-ups).
Single player mode
In single player you take part in any of the races mentioned previously. However it also offers a bit more than that.
You can also take part in the arena. These game types are the likes of what you would expect in an FPS. These consist of Deathmatch, Steal the stash (a capture the flag-esque game type) and Time Bomb (One player starts with a timed bomb, any cars caught in the blast will also then have a timed bomb, last car still driving wins). The arena game types are also included in the campaign for certain tournaments.
Or if all that wasn’t enough, how about a bit of Carkour. In this game type you are required to collect all collectibles navigating through a number of loops, jumps, twists and turns in the fastest time possible.
Online allows you to race or step into the arena against other Xbox Live players and local play let you compete against friends on the couch. Grip offers a split screen mode for multiplayer for up to 4 players. Being a gamer from the days of old, seeing a feature like this in a game really ticks the right boxes. It brings back that nostalgia of the days where there was no online gaming. You actually had to be in the same room as your friends to play multiplayer (usually with one of you having the poor third party controller no one wanted). A game like this encourages this to happen again.
Grip is a lot of fun. To the point that I can’t remember having as much fun reviewing a game. The balance of keeping the game current but bringing back a warm and happy nostalgic feeling is done remarkably well. Graphically Grip is outstanding. The attention to detail on each of the different environments really helps set the scene.
However while I have praised Grip, there are a few negatives. Grip is not a forgiving game. Therefore making a mistake, missing a turn or hit a barrier and you will be sitting in last place. While this all adds to the fun of getting back in the game, it can create a lot of frustrations. Also the handling of the cars be quite difficult to get to ‘grips’ with. You can change these in the settings however it can be a bit time consuming to get this to fit your play style.
I know this game has been in the making for quite some time. It started life as a Rollcage sequel by former Rollcage developers and went through a kickstarter campaign. It has been a long wait, but it is very much worth it. The inspiration from the old Rollcage series is very noticeable and it does feel like a worthy successor. Mission Accomplished Caged Element and a very well done on a great addition to the combat racing genre.
Grip: Combat Racing is available to purchase for Xbox One at retailers from £32.99, or from the Xbox Live Store for £34.99 on 6th November. It is also available for free upon its release on the Xbox Game Pass.
A review copy for Xbox One was provided for the purposes of this review. Thank you!
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- Extremely fun, fast paced and adrenaline fuelled
- Full of nostalgia
- Graphically stunning
- Very unforgiving
- Handling can take a little while getting used to
- Getting beaten at the last second