Grid Legends franchise carving its own path in racing genre (Reivew)

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Grid Legends
Grid Legends(Used with permission from Codemasters/Electronic Arts)
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 5:13 PM CST
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(HARDWIRED) - “Grid Legends,” released this past week, sees the storied franchise return to once again compete with Gran Turismo for the spotlight.

The latest entry boasts a grand scale of races and cars, alongside a balanced simulation racing model that leans just a bit into the arcade styles of its contemporaries.

Hardwired sat down with “Grid Legends” Steven Brand, the associate creative director for game developer Codemasters, to discuss the game’s story, gameplay and some of the interesting approaches they took to making the game’s world come to life.

What was it like to return to a racing series as storied as GRID Legends?

BRAND: GRID has a rich history and back story, so giving characters (old and new) a fresh platform has been a lot of fun to develop. It’s been very interesting seeing the reaction from those who are knowledgeable about ‘GRID Lore’. Returning with a story mode also allowed us to experiment with some specific in-race goals, all designed and included to help move the narrative along as desired.

The balance between fun arcade racing and fun sim racing can be hard to strike. What did you find challenging about landing the balance?

BRAND: The challenge is how we appeal to both the more ‘casual’ racing fan as well as sim racers and I think we’ve struck a really good balance with GRID Legends. The physics model on which our car handling is robust enough to give a great experience for both types of player. If you race without any assists applied, you’ll certainly notice a difference in the way the vehicles handle. Vehicle handling is just one part of the on-track experience though. If you take the AI for instance, we focussed on ensuring we gave them as much character as possible and you’ll notice that they are not infallible and will make mistakes, much like a real racer would. Whether taking too much speed into a corner or losing a wheel that leads to a spin and a potential flip, it’s these moments that add to the experience and overall sense of fun. We feel GRID Legends has a unique character within the racing genre.

I found the decision to use live action cutscenes and actors to be an interesting change to other games, what led to this decision?

BRAND: We were very much inspired by the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive when looking at the story, and following discussions with our creative partners at SPOV, this approach started to take shape. The beauty of the GRID franchise is that we can experiment and we are all really pleased with the end result. The characters portrayed by the talented cast really brought the story to life. We wanted to do something different to the well-trodden computer-generated route, and the actors combined with the Virtual Production technology came together really well.

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