Does Grid Autosport on Nintendo Switch race to a podium finish, or stall on the starting line? We review Feral Interactive’s port of the classic Codemasters racer.
The Nintendo Switch really needed this. Yes, Grid Autosport is an ageing game, and as a “serious” racer it has been overtaken by the likes of the Forza and Codemasters’ own efforts with its Dirt and F1 franchises. However, on Switch, it’s a real rarity.
Several developers have attempted to give the Nintendo Switch a decent real-world racing game. Most notable is the Gear.Club series from Eden Games – the first of which was quietly impressive – along with disappointing efforts such as V-Rally 4 and Real Drift Racing.
Grid Autosport, however, is the real deal. It’s a proper racing game from a studio steeped in knowledge of the sport and with a history of developing authentic vehicle handling models.
This is a sim, make no mistake, but it’s also an accessible one. A selectable difficulty level lets players choose a suitable entry point and the game will then suggest an increase if races become too easy. Vehicle handling can also be adjusted to suit, with options to tweak everything from brake bias and downforce, to suspension and gear ratios.
No matter how you choose to play the game, Grid Autosport‘s racing experience is always satisfying. However, it’s at its best when it’s a close and competitive jostle, something that has become a Codemasters trademark.
On the tarmac, the game is much the same as it was in 2014. Grid Autosport is a robust jack-of-all-trades, and rather than focusing on a specific branch of motorsport, it features an array of event types across five disciplines: Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner, and Street.
You’re free to hop from one discipline to another across multiple seasons, all the time levelling up your experience and gaining access to new vehicles. The format does lack focus, but it also makes progression nicely varied, with new pursuits always available if one mode becomes too challenging. (Hello, drift events.) In one season you might be competing in races through the streets of San Francisco and Paris, and in the next you’re tearing around Brands Hatch in an open-wheel Formula One racer.
Career mode is supplemented by a range of race types that includes Demolition Derby, Drag Race, Time Attack, and custom cups. It’s a generous game with a daunting amount of content to unlock. Fortunately, if you want to see all the game has to offer as quickly as possible, a 50% XP boost is available within the game’s options. It’s another nice concession toward making the game as accessible as possible.
Being a Codemasters product, Grid Autosport is also free from the narcissistic, self-obsessed attitude that plagues some other racing games. It’s a sober, matter of fact ride, and all the better for it. Don’t expect anything more than a polite acknowledgement for finishing a season in first place and achieving all of your sponsor’s objectives. It’s blissful muted.
It’s Grid Autosport‘s appearance on Switch that makes this game worth reviewing, of course, and we’re pleased to report that Feral Interactive has done an excellent job.
With the Switch docked there are two visual modes to choose from. Performance Mode sacrifices environmental detail and lighting effects for a (mostly steady) 60fps frame-rate. And if you’re happy with a solid 30fps, you can also select Graphical Mode to reinstate some glorious environmental effects and vehicle details. An energy-saving mode is also available in handheld which dials detail back even further to increase battery life.
No matter which option you choose, Grid Autosport is a good looking Nintendo Switch game. The environments are varied, with locations including California’s Pacific coast, the hairpin bends of Madrid’s Circuito del Jarama, and the afternoon haze of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all beautifully rendered.
Vehicle models are also impressive, while an optional ‘High Res Car Textures’ pack is available via the Nintendo eShop that enhances the visuals even further. We’ve seen the Switch struggle with ports of some PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games but Grid Autosport is a reminder that the Switch can handle last-gen games quite capably and also offer significant improvements.
Other Nintendo Switch additions include motion controls – which are best avoided – and configurable HD rumble support. The game is missing multiplayer at launch but Feral Interactive – the studio behind the Switch port – say it will follow as a free update later this year.
Feral deserve full credit for their work with Grid Autosport. The quality of the port is top-notch and it has us excited for what they might achieve with the upcoming Switch edition of Alien: Isolation. If we were sitting on a haul of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games, we’d be knocking on their door right now.
Game: Grid Autosport
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Codemasters/Feral Interactive
Release Date: September 20, 2019