Stories in sports and racing games: we’ve seen them before and always love in reality. Now you might be thinking, “Sorry, don’t you feel alright?” Because in reality: Stories are rarely high-quality or impressive. But whether you watch The Journey to FIFA or Braking Point, which we saw at last year’s annual F1 game, it’s always entertaining. It’s a nice addition. In a sports or racing game, of course, it’s all about the gameplay, but having a storyline can provide a nice framework for experiencing this gameplay in a slightly different way. Even if the execution isn’t perfect, it’s fun to play through the story, especially if the creator has taken the trouble to hire all kinds of actors to play the movies.
Grid Legends is of course not just a racing game. The game is part of a long-running series from Codemasters, continuing the series’ roots in the old Toca Race Driver series that the English development studio has brought back. Where those games have attempted to provide a realistic representation of motorsports in many areas, the Grid series has become somewhat “bow” over the years. Yes, we just came up with that word ourselves. What do we mean by it? The network hasn’t been the epitome of realism for years, if ever. The series takes all kinds of motorsports lessons as a starting point, throws an amazing sauce on it with all kinds of bells and whistles, and there it is: you have the gameplay as we find distinctive of the network. Of course, the center of gravity shifted from time to time between titles like Grid: Autosport and Grid, but the general idea behind them has remained the same.
Legends Network is no exception. The game offers players a variety of cars from all aspects of motorsport, with the exception of racing monsters that do their work on dirt roads. After all, Code Masters have Dirt and Dirt Rally to collect. Thus, Grid Legends give way to active cars in circles, although you can interpret the latter more broadly. You race not only on famous tracks like Brands Hatch or Red Bull Ring, but also in city centers in Moscow, London and Paris, among others.
This instantly gives Grid Legends an advantage, because these city centers are quickly becoming our favorite locations. This is great, because usually the opposite is true and we find driving on real tracks much more enjoyable. We probably owe this to hardware – in this case – Xbox Series X, because driving around big cities is a feast for the top. Whether you’re past lavish Russian buildings or past a chain of Parisian cafés, they all look beautiful. The circuits are also in good shape, but of course they have a bit of pomp and circumstance to show off.
Frame rate and audio issues
That changes when the sky opens up in the game and you encounter a rain race. Across the board, racing games have shown better and better rain effects in recent years, and Grid Legends is well involved in this development. During a rain race, the racing cars ensure that the water is sprayed with precision, sometimes ensuring that you hardly see anything due to the “mist” being thrown by the cars in front of you. During rain races, especially if they are taking place in one of the mentioned city centers, it is noticeable that the game sometimes has hard times. We’ve seen some frame rate hiccups in those times. Nothing breaks the game, but enough to be a little annoying. A lot happens on screen in those moments, so Codemasters can be forgiven.
What is less beautiful is that the sounds often disappear. We played with subtitles turned on, so we saw it on screen when an engineer or presenter said something during the race, but we often didn’t hear that text at all. This undermines the atmosphere around the races a bit. It is also noticeable that what is said in those moments is quickly repeated. During three races you already hear a repeat of the same comment and that is of course not very strong.
“Lifelong zombie fanatic. Hardcore web practitioner. Thinker. Music expert. Unapologetic pop culture scholar.”