As I sat down to play GRIP: Combat Racing (GRIP), I was excited because the concept reminded me of Wipeout at first, one of my favorite games to play when I was a teenager. After playing for about half an hour I knew that Wipeout was not the game to which to compare GRIP, but I couldn't quite place my finger on the game that was similar to GRIP.
This would be a nagging problem for me over the next few days. On day 3, it came to me like a slap in the face: Rollcage. I remember flipping cars, doing barrel rolls, and bouncing around while speeding along a track in Rollcage very fondly. It was such a fun game for its time. Doing a little more digging, it was no surprise to me that the original developers of Rollcage were involved in the development for GRIP. But, can the modernized game stand the test of time and live up to the original incarnation?
The answer is assuredly YES.
For those unfamiliar with Rollcage, it was essentially a futuristic racing game where the vehicles had oversized wheels that allowed them to drive no matter the orientation of the vehicle. Upside down? No problem. This allowed for a constant feeling of moving forward, and was basically a more earthly version of Wipeout, including the full tilt speeds. GRIP is basically an update of this formula.
It brings in multiplayer (both online and 4-player local), a new destruction derby mode, and a ton of unlocks that range from whole vehicles to items/weapons for said vehicles.
All of this is set to the ever-so familiar techno soundtrack that we saw in both Wipeout and Rollcage. With 15+ tracks playable in both day and night settings, and in reverse, there's quite a lot of things to do, despite a few interesting design choices sprinkled throughout the game.
Well start with some of the things I did not like about the game.
Multiplayer. After you finish any race, you return to the main menu. I know this is not a huge deal, but when you are in a long haul gaming session with your buddies, this can become exceedingly vexatious when you have to keep making your way through the menus just to get back into the game. Why not bring you back to track selection, or even vehicle selection?
The only other thing that got to me, and I suppose is just the nature of games such as this, is given the breakneck speeds you are travelling at on the tracks, it could be a little difficult to discern what is going on and you could get confused when there are multiple paths to take, or you could get reset because of missing a turn and tumbling over the edge. This may necessitate several run-throughs of the track to become comfortable. But as I said, this also the nature of the game, and the dangers of getting older and not being able to track course visuals like you did when you are a teenager.
GRIP, of course, has weapons and abilities for you to use (its in the title after all), but there is an option to turn these off and just have the racing experience of the game. You also have the ability to control the difficulty level of the game as well as speeds. Boosting the speed up can sometimes lead to blazing fast, eye-watering action where some corners and jumps need to become a reflex more than anything. This can be very exhilarating, but also leads to some of the confusion and needed practice mentioned earlier.
GRIP is a stalwart refresh to the late '90s racing games, and boy does the nostalgia factor hit hard. If you like exhilarating racing games that are easy to pick up and play, this is definitely a game for you, and fans of Rollcage. Despite having no real new content or ideas, the game is stupendous, but not for those looking for a deep, technical experience you might get with truer simulation games that are on the market today. But let's be real, if youre here reading this, or even contemplating the game, that last statement doesnt really apply to you.
4 stars out of 5