When it comes to racing games, arcade experiences are often overshadowed by the high fidelity, photorealistic presentations seen in the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza. That’s a shame, considering they often prove to be more fun and accessible, never requiring you to invest the necessary time memorising the perfect route around the Nurburgring.
A standard race takes place on one of 22 tracks - each hiding multiple routes to the final destination, depending on the orientation of your vehicle at any one time - which can be spiced up with reverse or alternate time of day configurations. The first lap on any given level will have you getting your bearings, but then you’ll often need additional runs to get the hang of things, thanks to the loose interpretation of gravity in the game.
Cars have a jump functionality that helps to move around tracks when simply steering isn’t going to cut it, but you’ll need to time your jumps in order to thrust yourself up to the ceiling, causing a slightly nauseating camera flip. It’s a far cry from the stylish tricks of Rocket League; in practice, the acrobatics are a bit hit and miss, not offering as many easy tactical options to avoid cars and incoming attacks as they perhaps should.
Cars feel out of control more often than not, with little weight to them and handling limited by the sheer speed you need to throw at them at almost every moment.
Crashing is never pleasant in a racing title, but here it can bring some of the most unnatural moments, as the physics decide to throw you off at an odd angle from a jump, or not quite fix your orientation at the right time to avoid slamming into a wall and stopping dead (no matter how many hundreds of kilometres an hour you might have been going).
The result is cars feeling out of control more often than not, with little weight to them and handling limited by the sheer speed you need to throw at them at almost every moment. You can manoeuvre in the air, but this requires you to take your proverbial foot off the gas, risking a slow start once you land.
Enemy drivers are fairly reasonable, considering how often they can feel like unworthy cheaters in vehicular combat games, but we can’t attest to the behaviour of fellow human drivers online due to timing and availability. If you do venture online through, you can expect 10-player matchmaking, or you can gather your friends together in a private lobby, assuming you can rustle up that many gearheads.
Largely speaking, the experience of Grip is what you might expect for a modern update to an arcade-friendly formula, complete with the odd prompt to insert a coin here and there, driving the point home of exactly who this game is aimed at.
If that’s you, then there’s a fair amount to digest here overall. The ‘Carkour’ mode is ingeniously named and fiendishly difficult until you have the skill set and later cars needed to pull off necessary manoeuvres, while Arena is reminiscent of the Battle Mode offering in Mario Kart, though here the cars move far too quickly to make for an entertaining skirmish.
In all the game certainly has something, but perhaps not enough to really stand out as anything innovative and interesting. It’s like an old Scalextric: you’ll dig it out play for a while, always thinking you know where it’s going, only to whizz around a corner too quickly and leave your car in pieces.