“It’s all about the race.” That is the mantra over at Codemasters right now. The studio has a title in the works that may give Gran Turismo 5: Prologue a little competition in the racing genre. The title is being developed for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo DS. Yes, even the DS is getting some love here, quite impressive. For owners of Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS, this has the potential to become THE best racing game of its type. The game is due in the middle of this year and is titled Race Driver: GRID, but we may see that shortened to GRID (in the U.S. at least) if they want to stick with the same naming scheme used for their most recent game DiRT. Codemasters is the same studio responsible for other award-winning series such as Colin McRae Rally and ToCA Race Driver.
Codemasters is taking a new direction with GRID, a style that may appear strikingly familiar to fans of the Gran Turismo series. The experience looks to encompass circuit racing, drifting on the streets of Japan (complete with traffic), and everything in between, with vehicles ranging from GTR circuit race cars, American muscle cars, to pro Japanese drift machines. Players will race in tracks based in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., earning cash and reputation to unlock further events and purchase new vehicles as they progress. The developers have been quick to point out that they are focusing on something quite different than what we are used to with games of this type, “This is not a game about collecting cars or spending all of your time in the front-end tuning suspension settings or designing liveries. We want to make racing exciting again,” touts Ralph Fulton, Chief Game Designer. They also make no bones about trying to design a game that will have a broader appeal than some of their past work, and are specifically interested in what may appeal more to American gamers.
For those familiar with the impressive physics and damage modeling of Colin McRae Rally / DiRT (arguably the best damage modeling in any racing series), that alone makes this title one to definitely keep an eye on. If nothing else, these elements could very well make this game a dream come true for fans of drifting.
Look for hands on impressions to surface soon, the first playable versions were open to the public this past weekend at Play.com Live.
[See also: Race Driver: GRID gallery]