Scott Watson reviews Grip: Combat Racing…
The combat racing genre spans a wide range of games; from eternal favourite Mario Kart, to classics like Twisted Metal, Road Rash, Burnout and the fondly remembered (to me anyway) Rollcage from Psygnosis during the heady days of the original PlayStation.
Developer Caged Element are hoping to keep the home fires burning for the love of Rollcage with its spiritual successor, Grip: Combat Racing. To be fair, it’s far less a successor, and more an homage to this classic car combat racer of the past.
For those old enough to remember, the unique quirk of Rollcage and now in Grip is the setup of your racer. Huge beasts of vehicular power, with wheels taller than the body of the cars themselves means you can flip. twist, tumble and turn to your heart’s content and still carry on racing.
It’s a racing dynamic that allows the creation of tracks with multiple surfaces to travel on, create shortcuts and more. The idea itself is sound and should, in theory, create exciting ways and means of racing towards the finish line via multiple means. It can be very easy for you to get turned around and lose track of your direction because of this. An additional challenge or a frustration, well that’s something I think is going to split opinion. I found myself at times being completely turned around as I raced, slipping at times very quickly from first to last thanks to a quick flip of surface I was racing on. I found it very frustrating indeed.
The frustration continues throughout the game, with the AI opponents being relentless in their pursuit even on the easiest tiers of the game. They have no qualms in using the power-ups to their advantage, be they weapons or speed boosts, and again, it’s a frustration of the game that feels like you’re never really racing against particularly fair opponents given how quickly they appear to be on you when you make a mistake.
Mistakes will happen all too easily as well while racing. Again, even within the lower tiers the speed is relentlessly fast and while perhaps not as comparable to the likes of Wipeout speeds, you can still zip about at a fair rate of knots. It’s infuriating then too when a mistake or an over-compensation in steering leads to a simple clip against the scenery that sends your car reeling and again dropped for a position of strength to the back of the pack.
All these things come together to make Grip: Combat Racing a very infuriating racer to play indeed. The vehicle handling is very twitchy, and although sensitivity can be adjusted, you always feel there’s a tendency to over-steer with even the slightest of touches. Weapons and power ups are fairly rudimentary types that you’ll have seen a million times in other races, the mini-gun, the rocket, the shield, the speed boost, all here and present, just incredibly under-whelming. Similarly are the tracks, they all feel lacking in personality and purpose which is a real let-down, given the racing dynamic is such a fabulous idea.
Grip: Combat Racing is a game that should be a rousing success on paper given the capabilities of the race cars; sadly it’s doesn’t really feel like it’s captured the essence of what made Rollcage so great almost 20 years ago.
+ Split screen two player. A rarely seen joy these days
– AI in single player is unforgiving
– Weapons lack any punch
– Severe lack of tracks
Platform reviewed on Xbox One