In today’s market, we have very few arcade futuristic racers. It was once considered the bread and butter of multiplayer racing and technical achievements in high framerate twitch play – futuristic arcade racers have all but become stagnant. Titles like Rollcage, Wipeout, and F-Zero were games I grew up with that tested my dexterity and reflexes in ways no other games could. But it’s hard to shake the feeling the genre needs more love. Wipeout Omega collection is effectively a remaster, F-Zero has remained in a slumber for two generations, and Fast RMX is relegated to Nintendo platforms only.
Enter Grip: Combat Racing, and say hello to the newest entrant in the inescapable, addictive, and the hyper-realistic future of racers.
Created by the small but passionate indie guys in Canada, Caged Element- these guys are no strangers to what makes racing games great. Upon doing a bit of research, the game director Chris Mallinson remarks: “…(it’s a) Tense Combat racer. Cars Flip on both sides. (It’s a) Spiritual successor to a game called Rollcage.” This is music to my ears.
Booting up the game is a slick interface that quickly gets you into a race. The introductory races is a glorified tutorial into how mechanics work. The first thing you’ll notice is that littered on the ground are power ups aka Mario Kart- that can serve as assists or weapons in races. It is called combat racing after all. Immediately after – the moment you crash or hinder yourself, the vehicle will flip – communicating that crashes don’t work to completely destroy momentum – but to facilitate a means forward.
Grip’s gameplay feels refreshing in many ways. The controls feel smooth as you race with blistering speeds. The game teaches you on how to balance your vehicle or else trying to focus on speed can cost you the race. Grip combat racing can be punishing in many ways but, that’s what makes the game even more competitive. You have your usual accelerate and handbreak. In addition you also have boost and launch charge when you need to overcome certain obstacles. The shoulder buttons will allow you to use your power-ups. Hitting other vehicles with your machine gun or missiles is the most satisfying part in Grip. Players can also protect themselves from such attacks- providing that they have a power-up shield. The game will have you rolling across walls and ceilings. There’s always something new to learn in Grip Combat Racing.
The visuals in Grip doesn’t disappoint. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game is visually striking. I really appreciate the art direction, as it pays homage to cult classics like Rollcage. You’ll notice the sunset on certain tracks along with the neon lights. The game runs at 60fps without any noticeable hiccups. The game has a clean presentation and each track have a unique look. With 22 tracks, the game provides variety when it comes to locations. You can race in the wastelands, a track full of snow or, a volcanic track. The visuals really stand out wherever you decide to race.
When it comes to content, Grip Combat Racing is packed full of it. With a campaign mode that allows you to play in tournaments to a regular single player mode that allows players to race or battle against other NPC’s. When it comes to racing, you can choose 4 different ways to race. You also have arena based modes, such as Deathmatch, Steal the stash- which is like capture the flag and time bomb. You can choose to play these modes on both single or online multiplayer. Speaking of multiplayer, I’ve had endless fun on deathmatch and steal the stash. You’ll definitely get that Rocket league vibe when it comes to the competitive side of things. Local split screen is something I also appreciate. It’s a great addition to something that’s lacking in modern futuristic racers.
The game has a levelling system as XP’s are gained when you complete in races. As you level up, you can unlock new vehicles whenever you’re at a certain level. However, you can’t modify the engine of your vehicle which is disappointing. The game does allow you to change tires and apply decals so it’s not all doom and gloom.
Grip has an incredible soundtrack that suits the tone of the game. Fans of drum and bass would really appreciate the tracks provided in Grip. The sounds of vehicles doesn’t disappoint ether. The sound of the engines make you feel like you’re racing with a hyper car. The weapon could sound better but overall, the developers made a great effort capturing the sound.
Considering this was a kickstarter project from a passionate group of developers, I commend them for their efforts for filling that futuristic racing drought we’ve had for a while. Grip Combat Racing is packed full of content that has a great soundtrack. It’s a game I enjoyed in short busts and would go back whenever I need my futuristic racing fix. The multiplayer was a blast and the local split screen is something many would appreciate. Grip combat racing would leave you in a state on nostalgia when it comes to the genre.
A review code was provided by the publisher for review
Developer: Caged Element / Publisher: Wired Productions
Release date: 06/11/2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
“Grip: Combat Racing fills in the void when it comes to it’s respective genre and there’s so much fun to have”