Review of Grid (2019) — I always race to win

I know I’ve said this at least several times before, but I’m gonna have to say it again  — Codemasters has a long resume when it comes to racing games. Whether it be rallying, Formula 1, or even over-the-top off-roading, the British publisher has done it all. But while Dirt and F1 have still been going strong, fans had been wondering if/when the Grid series would return to the track.  Well, after five years, we don’t have to wonder anymore.  This self-titled reboot is the series’ debut on current-gen hardware, and I’m here to give you the full synopsis on everything it brings to the table.  So with that out of the way, let’s drop the green flag and get this review started.

Turn the car into the wind

Like other established series such as Gran Turismo and Forza MotorsportGrid tasks you with making a name for yourself in a variety of racing disciplines.  You won’t find rally racing or modern Formula 1 in here, but you get to race sports cars, open-wheelers, touring cars, tuner cars, and stock cars from different eras of the sport.  During your career, you must not only place high in the standings, but also manage your race team properly.  It’s your job to collect prize money, buy (And paint) the cars you want, and hire teammates.  No virtual racing career would be complete without a diverse track roster, and this game delivers a hefty number of road-course, street-course, and oval configurations.  There are only 13 locations at the moment, but more will be added in free updates.

GRID-dle cakes

Of course, all of the above would be meaningless if the racing itself wasn’t solid, and the folks at Codemasters have once again delivered solid racing in spades.  While not an arcade racer like Need for Speed or BurnoutGrid tries to be a little more accessible than Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport.  Despite the car-setup functionality being quite simplified, the driving does have weight and realism on both gamepad and wheel.  Flags and pit stops are non-existent, but you still have to drive carefully to avoid crashing out or being penalized.  If you race an opponent too aggressively, they’ll become a Nemesis and try to give you a taste of your own medicine.  Like the previous game in the series, you have the ability to ask your teammate to charge through the pack or play defense, not that they’ll always be able/willing to do what you ask them to do.

Online multiplayer is a bit shallow in this game, as you only have quick-match and private-match options.  Without any search options for public lobbies, you basically jump into public races hoping that the events found are to your liking.  If you want an online race that can be run the way you want it, you have no other alternative but to invite 1-15 friends who have the game.  It’s not a dealbreaker, but I do hope this online-mode drawback can be sorted out.

Pedal to the floor, lap is runnin’ faster

After sitting in its garage for the last five years, the long-running Grid series has made a satisfactory comeback in the form of this reboot.  It may occasionally bust a flat or drop some horsepower, but it still belongs on the shelf of any type of racing-game junkie.  Checkered flag, here I come!

THQ Nordic acquires Milestone S.r.l.

If you like virtual two-wheel racing, chances are you’ll recognize the name Milestone S.r.l.  The Italian studio has years of experience with motorcycle games, and they currently have partnerships with MotoGP, MXGP. and Monster Energy Supercross.  However, they’ve been facing tough dirt-bike competition in the form of the MX vs. ATV series from THQ Nordic.  And it’s ironic that I mention said competition, because the Swedish videogame holding company has purchased Milestone, thus acquiring the rights to series like MotoGPMonster Energy Supercross, MXGP, and Ride.  In theory, this could be a big help to Milestone since they didn’t quite have the budget that racing game giants like Codemasters have.  It’s also an ironic acquisition since THQ Nordic used to have the MotoGP license themselves, so it feels like they’re delving into their past in some fashion.  On a personal note, I feel like one of the biggest reasons for this purchase is that THQ Nordic has been concerned about the possibility of Milestone’s dirt-bike games wiping the floor with the MX vs. ATV series.  Again, that’s just my personal opinion, and you’ll have to hear the real story from the horse’s mouth.  Regardless of reasons, I’m curious to see how Milestone performs now that a giant publisher has acquired them and thus helped them out financially.

First impressions of Monster Jam: Steel Titans — What the truck happened?

Like the other members of SSG, it’s my job to be fair when writing about the games that are on my mind. And I feel like I’ve been following that rule with ease in every article I’ve written so far. No matter how upset I seem when talking about a game’s flaws, I’m still able to detect its positives and complement them without any reluctance. The reason I say all of this is because I bought Monster Jam: Steel Titans on day 1 (June 25, 2019), and it’s been kind of a shaky launch week for THQ Nordic’s first stab at the Monster Jam license. So while we wait for the game’s first patch (I’m gonna wait until that drops before writing a full review), I’ll briefly discuss where Steel Titans nails its backflips and where its engine sputters.

I’ll start with the good — You’ve got officially licensed Monster Jam trucks, which is a big plus right off the bat (Even though you have to unlock them one by one). There is no difference between each truck in terms of how they drive, but the driving physics are easy to get the hang of and allow you to perform all the tricks these trucks are famous for. The team at Rainbow Studios has also been kind enough to provide you with a hefty number of stadiums, arenas, and cross-country tracks to tear up the dirt on. There’s no online multiplayer to share said tracks with, but you have the option to race against a friend via split-screen. Combine all that with several types of events to put on, and you have a meaty monster truck package under the hood.

I know it sounds like Steel Titans has already been a success in the short time that’s passed since its release, but now we get to the part where the game starts to bust a flat. Although the driving itself is solid, it can more often than not be hindered by the graphics. I don’t know whether or not this is just a case of bad console optimization, but this game (On my PS4 Pro, at least) has a a stressful amount of frame drops and pop-in. I know PC versions will almost always have the best textures, resolution, and framerate (I tested the PC version at PAX East 2019 and was very impressed), but the console versions still shouldn’t be this bad of a downgrade in comparison. Whether or not Rainbow Studios will re-optimize said graphics in patches remains to be seen. In terms of other issues, I can accept the AI being somewhat slow or robotic, but what really made me mad was that a few races started me in reverse gear for some strange reason. That’s not exactly gonna help you rake in the in-game credits, now will it?

What really blows my tires about all this is that this is yet another Rainbow Studios racing game that doesn’t quite live up to the hype. This developer has many years of racing experience with games/series like MX vs. ATV, Star Wars Racer: Revenge, Pixar’s Cars, and Splashdown, and yet they’re continuing to go downhill. How they didn’t learn their lesson from the unpolished-on-day-1 mess that was MX vs. ATV: All Out is a mystery I’ll probably never understand. It could be budget cuts, it could be laziness, it could be rushed development, or it could even be all of the above. It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

I understand that it sounds like I absolutely loathe this game, but I don’t. In fact, I want to highly enjoy it, but I’m not enjoying it at the moment. I’m really hoping the PC version is at least a little better than its console counterpart, and if it is, I can at least recommend it to adamant Monster Jam fans. If you’re not, just leave Steel Titans in the garage for now. Sorry Rainbow Studios, but you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and fix these problems quickly if you want this Monster Jam partnership to work.

Destroy All Humans! Again With Remake of Original Announced

IGN revealed the announce trailer for a Destroy All Humans! remake this morning, and it’s coming in 2020 to Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Oddly enough there’s no official word from THQ Nordic yet, but IGN is reporting (possibly early) the studio has announced a remake of the first game in the cult series. It’s not a total surprise considering a new game was rumored alongside a new Darksiders game which was shown yesterday.

No details or pre-orders available yet but you can watch the (sadly) gameplay free trailer below.

THQ Nordic Announces SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated in Lead Up to E3

As the first of 3 game announcements leading up to E3, THQ Nordic announced SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated.

After announcing the 3 game reveals for this week, THQ Nordic‘s first title is a remastered SpongeBob game from 2003. The original sits at a 71 on Metacritic for the PS2 version but was a surprise for many. A new take on the Darksiders series and a revival of the Destroy All Humans! franchise were expected after rumors earlier in the week.

There are still 2 games to come so those may titles may still be on the table. After a surprise like this though, it’s anyone’s guess what THQ Nordic has planned. Expect the next game announcements from the publisher’s Twitter on Thursday and Friday.

THQ Nordic acquires Kingdoms of Amalur IP

Well then, this is a surprise. According to a tweet from THQ Nordic, they have acquired the IP and other assets from 38 Studios for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

This has me excited because I loved KoA. It was the first and only game from 38 Studios, and in my opinion it’s a very underrated game. Written in part by R.A. Salvatore, author of the Legend of Drizzt saga in the Forgotten Realms, it is a fantasy RPG with swappable classes for your character, fun combat, and a great storyline with interesting characters.

Is a second installment in the KoA series in the works? It’s very possible, and I hope it’s true. If you love fantasy RPGs, I recommend this game. I may even play this on our Twitch channel, so come on by and watch and hang out with me.

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