GRIP: Combat Racing Review

GRIP: Combat Racing Review


GRIP: Combat Racing is the spiritual successor
to Rollcage, a racing game for the PlayStation One that targeted the WipeOut fanbase, although
never quite achieved the same level of success. I loved Rollcage. The explosions, futuristic
vehicles, and pounding Fatboy Slim soundtrack were exactly what I was after at the age of
sixteen and I spent countless hours playing it with three friends who each had their own
copy. We were obsessed. I’ve returned to Rollcage a few times over the years and still remember
the shortcuts even if my memory is not quite so accurate when it comes to the visuals. I’m
giving you this history lesson because, like it or not, my experience with Rollcage will
color this review. It’s unavoidable. Yes, this is what bias in video game reviews looks
like, ladies and gentlemen. For other examples, see pretty much any review of a Zelda game. I desperately wanted to enjoy GRIP as much
as I enjoyed Rollcage, but alas, I didn’t. Partly this could be down to a change in my
tastes over the last twenty years, however the main reason is that, in trying to be bigger
and better, GRIP misses out on what made Rollcage so fun back in the late nineties. [I’m giving
GRIP three stars out of five. There’s a written review on my website if you would rather read
that. I should also note that I received a free review copy from the publisher.] GRIP’s core mechanic is its two-sided vehicles
which come with a heavy dose of downforce. You can drive up walls and even on the ceiling.
If you fall off, you can carry on racing regardless of which way up you land. This simple but
effective gimmick lets you drive 360 degrees around tunnels and pull off cool transitions
such as switching between the ground and the ceiling after using ramps. Speed boosts are
dotted around the course, although they don’t do a lot. You can pick up more powerful boosts
from the item drops, which also spawn weapons such as homing missiles and guns, defensive
items like shields, and even specific throwbacks to Rollcage like the ability to slow down
time and zoom past your opponents. GRIP’s campaign offers plenty of variety,
mainly consisting of two regular race types and two battle modes. The races are standard
first across the finish line affairs, with one being limited to speed boosts as the only
power-up while the other includes weapons. Both race types suffer from an infuriating
amount of rubber-banding. On the lower difficulty levels, the rubber-banding works generously
both ways, with cars always able to catch up with you, but practically pulling over
and letting you pass once they have taken the lead. It looks comical. Most races end
up coming down to the last lap, so for better or worse, your performance in the first two
or three laps doesn’t count for much. On the higher difficulties, the rubber-banding
is still generous for your opponents, but less helpful for you. I tested it a few times
and found that no matter how many boosts I got and how perfectly I drove, I couldn’t
catch up with racers who had pulled into a lead whereas they could easily catch up to
me. I would be in first place boosting down a straight as fast as I could go and yet somehow
the distance between us would close rapidly. This is especially noticeable in the one-on-one
duels against your rival that end each tournament. You have to race pretty much perfectly for
around five minutes whereas your opponent can make plenty of mistakes without punishment. The battle competitions were more fun than
I expected, however they desperately need some balancing. Your goal is to rack up as
many points as possible by damaging your opponents in either a standard set of laps or in a battle
arena. The lap based mode is a lot of fun with a couple of huge drawbacks. Seeing the
damage numbers pop off cars as you shoot them is excellent, but the obvious problem with
this is that you need to be behind the cars to do damage. The best way to win is, therefore,
to let other racers pass you and then shoot them. There is a points reward based on your
finishing position, but it doesn’t seem to be that important to the overall standings. The arena mode is almost embarrassingly easy.
You get loads of points for destroying the barrels that litter the arena, however no
one has told the AI bots this information. I won the battle arenas comfortably just by
driving around shooting barrels with damage done to vehicles little more than a bonus. Both battle modes could stand to be a little
more generous when it comes to awarding points. You get a few points here and there for doing
big jumps, but it would be great to get rewarded for tricks and flips as well. It leads to
odd situations where, for example, driving straight off the track gets you points for
airtime, but flipping off a ramp and landing perfectly on a wall doesn’t get you anything. All of the race types have issues, be it rubber-banding
or just inappropriate point distribution, however the campaign switches things up constantly
so it’s hard to ever get that annoyed or bored with any one mode. As a result, the campaign
flows perfectly and nails that “just one more race” vibe. You’re always getting XP, even
if you lose, and driver levels advance relatively quickly. Vehicle unlocks are a little slow,
mind you, with it seemingly taking around an hour on average to get a new vehicle. To
make up for this, you’re constantly rewarded with new decals and tires although I can’t
pretend that the tires are all that exciting. They don’t modify the vehicle stats in any
way and it’s not like you can see them clearly at 500km an hour. I’d have liked more courses. It’s hard to
put a specific figure on the number of tracks because they get recycled with minor changes
and there are day and night modes, but I’d say there’s around six of note, and that includes
one which is just an oval. Look, despite what some people from the southern United States
will tell you, driving in circles for lap after lap just isn’t fun. GRIP is absolutely exhilarating when it leans
on its main strength: the flippable vehicles. Some courses have long tunnels packed with
obstacles which see you spinning around so much you lose track of which way is up. Other
have small ramps which spin your car so that you’ll do a trick in the air or land perfectly
to hit a wall side-on and continue driving without losing momentum. You can build up
an insane amount of speed as the screen blurs around your vehicle and you hold on for dear
life, knowing the slightest twitch could send you careening off course. The bad news is that GRIP doesn’t have enough
moments like this. It’s frustrating because the areas GRIP fails in are the same ones
that Rollcage mastered all those years ago. To be clear, GRIP does not have to be another
Rollcage. Developer Caged Element is free to iterate and improve on a game that is nearly
twenty years old at this point. In fact, this should be encouraged. However, the changes
here weren’t for the better. GRIP’s two major problems are the open nature
of the tracks and the use of shortcuts, or lack thereof. Rollcage’s tracks were more
like those of a typical kart racer such as Crash Team Racing or Mario Kart. You veered
onto the grass a bit, but you weren’t likely to go flying off a cliff all that often. There
were typically forcefields at the edges to keep you in bounds. This was an excellent
fit for Rollcage and its vehicles because bouncing back onto the course would nearly
always let you continue racing. GRIP doesn’t do this. Tracks have huge open areas and it’s
easy to get knocked slightly off course and end up flying into the mountains. The developer
must have known this was an issue because it implemented a quick reset button, however
I have to wonder whether invisible walls at the boundary wouldn’t have been a better idea.
Open areas also fail to take advantage of the whole being able to drive on walls thing
which is largely the point of the game. In Rollcage, shortcuts were risk-reward affairs.
You’d usually have to do something tricky like go off the track for a bit or try to
make it through a narrow opening. The reward for pulling this off would be gaining time
over your opponent. GRIP doesn’t have shortcuts. It has alternative routes. At best, some routes
offer an extra speed boost or item pick up but that’s about it. Mastering tricky shortcuts
are my fondest memories of Rollcage and they simply don’t exist in GRIP. GRIP has a carkour mode—yes, that’s what
it’s called—where you can drive through various short scenarios such as loops or jumps.
It sounds good in theory, but it’s terrible in practice. Hopefully, a level editor will
be added one day because I’m sure the community could come up with some great courses along
the lines of those in Trackmania Turbo. The ones on offer here seem flat out broken in
places. It’s hard enough to make basic jumps from one piece of track to another, let alone
do anything complicated. There’s one where all the arrows tell you to drive forward however
that just leads to your death. I managed to complete the mission by reversing under the
no entry sign and landing in the right spot. Perhaps this was a joke mission. I’ve no idea,
but it wasn’t fun. Another area GRIP falls down in compared to
Rollcage is the soundtrack. This is perhaps inevitable. With a smaller budget, the developer
was never going to recreate the brilliance of Rollcage’s Fatboy Slim inspired soundtrack.
GRIP’s music is functionally the same kind of thing just without the magic. I mentioned that my best memories of Rollcage
were playing with friends and that’s going to be the case with GRIP as well. Multiplayer
makes up for a lot of GRIP’s problems. There’s no need to worry about rubber-banding with
human opponents, although it is still an option for any bots that make up the numbers, and
from my experience, real players seem to be picking the tracks with narrow courses that
work to GRIP’s strengths. Credit to Caged Element for also including four-player split-screen
as well, at least on PC and I believe PS4 and Xbox One, with the Switch limited to two-player
split-screen. Speaking of the Switch, if you’re considering picking that version up, I recommend
you check out some gameplay footage first because it looks rough and like a different
game in places. I’m fairly sure it isn’t even stable at 30 fps let alone 60 fps. There’s also a price difference between the
versions, with the Steam edition coming in at $30 and console versions at $40. GRIP does
its best to hide the lack of courses by regularly switching up the nature of the competitions
and making slight changes to the tracks. However, when you look past this, there isn’t a lot
of content here, especially if you’re talking about a $40 price point. I played Fast RMX earlier
this year for the Switch. It has about 30 courses, not including the mirror mode, and
runs at a smooth 60fps at a price of just $20. If you have a Switch, you should consider
putting your money there instead. GRIP has moments of brilliance, but not enough
for me to recommend a purchase unless you’re a fan of Rollcage and are interested in what
is essentially an incredibly late Rollcage 3. The addition of either some more courses
or a level editor would be a huge improvement although I don’t know if that is in the works.
GRIP isn’t everything I hoped it would be, however there is a solid base and plenty to
suggest that Rollcage’s formula still has something to offer in 2018. Okay, thanks for watching. Please consider
hitting like, sharing, and subscribing if you enjoyed the video. Let me know what you
thought, especially if you played Rollcage back in the day. I’d love to get some more
opinions on what Rollcage fans think of GRIP. I have a Twitter and Discord, so follow me
there if you’d like to chat. Finally, there is a Patreon if you would like to support
my videos and get your name in the credits for a dollar a month. The Mass Effect 2 video
is coming later this month, alongside a review of The Messenger and maybe Hitman 2. Alright,
until next time. Cheers.

100 Replies to “GRIP: Combat Racing Review”

  1. One of the best games I've played in the last few years. Didn't think a great deal of Rollcage apart from the game looking cool. This game really comes together the more you play it. After a few hours of play everything starts to feel right and you'll wonder why a game like this hasn't come sooner. Focussing just on its weapon based racing, it certainly gets a 9/10 in my book. It's as good as Wipeout Omega, yet so different I could jump from one to the other and feel like im going from one genre to another.

  2. You can't be too hard on games like this. If we are to get another true, combat racer again, we cannot be too critical of the pioneers.

  3. complètement d'accord avec toutes les critiques, un bon jeu, mais manque beaucoup de chose, les parcours sont plat…. est c'est tuner interminable…… dommage

  4. I got it for nothing by using XBox Gamepass. I have has plenty of fun with this game, whether it was messing around and testing weapon upgrades (which no one knows exists), doing the elimination races and ruining someone's day at the last second, or just going around on that map which you so despise that is an oval (by the way, you said you love the inversions and hate the open areas, that map is exactly what you described yourself to like). I think the reason you weren't liking this game as much is because you weren't playing it how it was meant to be played. The bots rubber-band too much; play with other players. The barrels give you ludicrous amounts of unfair points; don't shoot them. The game gives you too many points for flying off of the map as 'tricks'; play another mode.

  5. This game is a shit tun of fun for me plus I have my own music tracks for it and man it just feels to race again and not deal with shitty modern game practices.
    It's been a long road… but speed pads are thing now.

  6. I don’t know if you realised this (haven’t watched the full video) but the flashing green think around the speedometer is your boost. You can use it.

  7. hmmm…random question…are there any tournament modes for local multiplayer? I mean like the cup races for Crash team racing where you do a track and get points for that…later on all the points will be counted…

  8. Good review and I agree on most of the criticism. The maps are in general too open – the great thing about Rollcage was that performance mattered a lot. Perfecting the shortcuts, tunnels etc. all added up and you needed to utilize the walls for optimal performance. GRIP is much more like a traditional racer with the added effect of driving on walls, it looks cool but ultimately perfecting the runs doesnt matter much. The concept could be a 5/5 game but it needs better tracks, less rubber band effect and a stronger understanding of what made Rollcage great.

  9. Interesting concept considering if you flip upside down you'll tires will be going in reverse and the same as if you jump n start riding on the ceiling

  10. WTF rubber banding are you talking about, I've played on steam since it launched in early access and never rubber banded even when playing online. I also played Rollcage a lot as a kid, but this is not Rollcage or Rollcage 3, it is a spiritual successor because Rollcage died. The music is updated from its spiritual successor with a similar electronic type of music which sounds great if you like that type of music. While I won't listen to this exact style of electronic music outside of the game I do enjoy the music in game and think it is a great fit. IDK what you are doing to only have the last lap matter other than a technicality of its the lap that determines your finishing position, but if that is your reason then all racing games are like that. On the Ultimate Race mode I have won many of them without firing a single shot just by being in first all of the laps so position does matter. In the death match mode you abused the system, good job, try shooting the cars that shoot back, that said the AI is dumb in this mode even on hard and you have to really suck to not win even win you never shoot a single barrel. Really the only issues with the game is some of the reset points are garbage and just throw you off the track again, there is a few spots on some of the newer maps that you can still get stuck in, the game sometimes like to prematurely auto reset, and if you put the engine speed to wild, have catch up assist turned on and drive a high top speed car the catch up assist is a hindrance more than a help because you end up going way to fast for anything.

  11. I used to play Rollcage on the PC. It's probably one of the earliest games to feature the infamous motion-blur that was present in later 6th-gen games to present day.

  12. i never owned wipeout, but me and my bro bought an old used modded ps one off trade and exchange newspaper listing back in the day and one of the black market games it came with was rollcage, we played the shit out of that game. it was awesome. hope grip is released on pc, with splitscreeen for those good old days 🙂

  13. I bought the game grip because I was a giant fan of Jack x combat racing and the intense speeds. I hope the developers are like no mans sky and add some cool updates. New planets new tracks and some vehicle upgrades. IMAGINE DRIVING DOWN AROUND THE INSIDE OF A VOLCANO

  14. There are around 20 tracks.
    There are probably the best soundtracks with Payday 2 while you are playing.
    The graphics at Epic level are pretty much very satisfying.
    Most of the tracks are very fun to drive once you figured out the way to race them properly.
    You get a new car every 2 levels which take about 5 mins at the beginning and 20 mins in the end.
    (Bad point is that there are not enough good looking cars in my opinion while in rollcage, everytime you had a new car it was even sexier than the previous one).
    The attacks//jumps//boost//reset systems are well done.
    (I'm missing some rollcage stage 2 attacks tho)
    Ai level is more than fair, you can only finish the game if you drive very well.
    It's easier in the early part of the campaign yeah, but you are supposed to learn the tracks accordingly so it's well made.
    The most important part is the multiplayer and car customisation in my opinion for a game like this.
    The multiplayer is stable, it's pretty easy to find a match, there are not a lot of lobbies but since it's 10-players lobbies, it's pretty easy to find one with already 6 players or so.
    Car customisation really needs improvement though, you can have all the colors (not like Rocket League), you have an insane amount of different tyres, some different rims.
    The bad part is for the decals, there are not many and mostly shit ones.
    There is only 4 or 5 different color reparts for each car which is not enough.

    Yeah I agree with the "open world" argument "you find yourself flying around pretty much often" BUT that's the case if you drive like shit.
    Grip isn't the kind of games where you press the throttle during the whole lap, most of the hard tracks require throttle and braking managment if you want to make good laps.
    So it's easy to criticize a game when you suck at it.

    "Pokemon campaign's is hard, when I attack a fire pokemon with a plant attack, it doesn't die"…
    You got it

  15. Well in a way Fat Boy Slim was at the birth of DnB and as that is what you let us hear.. I guess it is a spiritual successor even in music.

  16. Hmm. I remember playing a game that looked quite a bit like the Rollcage game, but a bit better grafics and with bikes. It was a LONG time ago… Anyone can help me find it?
    I remember the powerups being modules that hover around your vehicle after you pick them up, some powerups having tiers (the missile launcher has more missilese at higher tiers for example), the shield powerup deploying 'legs' from the module over the vehicle that projects a barrier around you, and there being a native weapon to the vehicles that can be charged.

  17. All right, I actually have both rc1 and rc2 but I can't play them on my pc no matter what I do. The game runs fine, all the graphics are OK and so on but the game is just too fast no matter what I do. I tried clocking down my I7 to 1 GHz (min state) but even then it is so fast that there is no time to react. Any solutions?

  18. Regarding the Rubberbanding, this seems exactly like what I'm experiencing in The Crew 2, it is horrendous in that game, my car could be upgraded to twice as much as the recommended level and like he said I could be in 1st place speeding down a straight and then I would look at the mini map and I would see them just gaining on me. Great Review tho. 🙂

  19. I’ve found that games I absolutely loved as a kid and put many hours of enjoyment into aren’t nearly as fun if at all when I pick it up as an adult.

  20. Tricky shortcuts you enjoyed doing are actually hurting long-term gameplay and competitiveness compared to different routes this game have. GRIP had one notable route (the letterbox) like that, but it got closed due to it being too OP, and becoming a meta route everyone would take by default. And meta's are wrong in a combat racing game.
    The game has it's more or less serious problems, but that still not gonna help the fact you didn't have a fair share of experience with this game as some of your facts you stated are just totally inaccurate and puts the game in a worse color than it actually is.
    You still decided to put on your nostalgia goggles and always refer back to Rollcage, and how good was that. Despite being a spiritual successor, GRIP is it's own IP. Still, nearly everything RC had right, this game also got and just elevated even further. You didn't bother discovering and showing those features tho.
    This review is just as bad and inaccurate as it gets. A downvote for that.

  21. thank you!!!!THANK YOU SOOOO MUCHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i used to play roll cage when i was really young and accidently deleted it ..but you made rememorize this special memoire ……………..

  22. bang on perfect review.. this game needed 1-2 more years of track design .. or 1 person that can actually make proper racing tracks…game feels broken to me..

  23. I think before Rollcage released in 1999, there's another game combat racing like this, in 1998. Dethkarz. From Melbourne House.

  24. i got it in early accses and i object to your score, i agree with everything you say but giving it such a low score is very strange i would give it a 7 out of ten its a well built game from a small dev thats not quite there yet n trems of being rock solid the cars still feel wobbly.
    but your score dispite evrything you say is basicly saying its rubbish and it most definitly is not that.

  25. I can't agree with this review. I spent dozens of hours playing both rollcage games as a kid and I'm just as addicted to GRIP if not even more! Many of the harder tracks are incredibly technical and require a lot of focus to navigate quickly, every car feels unique and is fun to drive, the sound design/soundtrack is excellent and the arena deathmatch mode is tons of fun. I bought this game on ps4 and was impressed by how much you can tweak your steering feel: Deadzone, sensitivity, and speed can all be adjusted to a degree that surpasses many FPS games, especially on console. If you feel like the cars in this game are a bit of a handful I have two words of advice: practice your throttle control and TWEAK YOUR STEERING! Its amazing how much of an impact these two factors can have in thus game when you start to really learn the tracks and find a steering feel that suits you

  26. WTF was that bullshit with original rollcage having some FBS soundtrack? Rollcage was the game that got me to drumnbass music with it's killer soundtrack and imho from what I've heard on YT, Grip doesn't seem to take it's soundtrack lightly.
    Basically in the whole video there are very few valid criticisms of Grip – the ruberbanding and lack of shortcuts, if that is even the case. Many routes in RC worked just like what this guy describes in Grip.

  27. he says there are only 6 tracks, he doesnt know about booster button or jump button and the soundtrack was partially held by hospital records… this guy..

  28. i didint even know rollcage had two different sountracks 😮 never heard of fat boy slim in rollcage. from what i hear here in video grip sounds similar to my version of rollcage ost 🙂

  29. Man, seeing footage of Rollcage which I remember to be cutting edge graphics and it looks godawful lol. Funny how one's memory works like that. i remember Severance blade of darkness looking breathtaking and when I looked up footage recently it was total ass. I know for the time these were pushing boundaries but it's like your memory quietly upgrades the things you played as things improve to keep the metric for graphical fidelity the same. I need another beer…..

  30. Rollcage~ oh the nostalgia. Love it. Anyone here remember that game called Wipeout?

    Not the tv show about big red balls

  31. It doesn't help that the Dev doesn't listen to criticism. The top upvoted review on steam is several paragraphs long and goes on about how the vehicles lack weight and the car crashes feel very weak and the Dev's response is very dismissive.

  32. Really good review. I'm playing it at the moment, and to be honest, I feel the exact same as you. Believe it or not, there are actually a couple of other problems that really infuriate me and limit my motivation to continue. For starters, the duels are by far the worst, not only because of the need to drive perfectly as you said, but also because every one of them so far has lasted WAY too long, and they just flat out aren't enjoyable. Furthermore, the sheer amount of times I've had a homing rocket instantly fly into the ground, wall or other collidable object due to the angle or position of my vehicle is utterly absurd. It feels like I've fired more rockets into the ground than at actual opponents. Also, I swear the swarm missile lock-on flat out doesn't work sometimes, due to the amount of times it misses completely even after getting a lock-on. The score-attack race mode is great except for one crippling flaw (outside of the flaws you mentioned). They still allow you to get passive items like boosts, shields etc, but these don't give you any points when used. This means that your ability to earn points will significantly depend on luck, because I have had multiple instances where I want to get an item to attack my opponent with, but four or five times in a row I simply won't get one. I've had to retry these events so many times because of this, and it's infuriating.

    Personally, I really liked the battle mode. Yes, I admit it is very easy, but that's probably what made it so fun and made me feel so powerful. It also helps that the track aesthetic and weather effects in the majority of cases is excellent, the cars look awesome and the sense of speed is one of the best I've experienced. The XP system is kind of redundant, as you don't actually earn anything game-changing with each level. They probably could of just had a list of rewards you earn for completing each tournament or tier instead. As for the soundtrack, I personally find it aggresively unremarkable, not because of genre, but rather because every track feels so repetitive and similar, without any distinct melodies, synths or lyrics. At least the sound effects are pretty solid.

    In the end, I would love to see a sequel, becuase there is so much good here that is mainly hampered by strange design choices that shouldn't be too difficult to iron out. Hell, I'm sure some of these issues could be fixed with a basic patch (like the available item pickups in score-attack and the spawn location of homing rockets when firing).

  33. I had some issues with the game just after launch myself, and barely played it, but have since learnt a lot of stuff that isn't well explained in-game, like the built-in boost, which helps a lot. And after the last update with the hovervehicles and new tracks and more music, the game is even better, and I honestly think it matches and even surpasses the old ollcage in many respects. Also, Rollcage 2 atleast had a reset function, that I had to use a lot when I played it, was easy to get stuck there as well.

    I get that this is your opinion of the game, and it might be a bit outdated now, but anyone who's interested in the game should view other reviews as well before making a decision.

  34. Its baffling why nobody ever mentions Rollcage Stage 2, it was pretty much Rollcage, but better.
    That, is where they should've pulled the inspiration.

  35. The addition of anti-grav vehicles is the best thing could happen to this game. I tried it when it was released on GP and meh! Not bad, not good enough to keep me interested. But with th new vehicles, it is the best F-Zero clone out there, better than Redout.

  36. Was thinkin of buying this as it’s down to €15 in a psn sale and then I heard you say rubber banding. Shudder. I’m out

  37. I forgive your bias. It’s a trait I share when talking about certain games. Your review is balanced non the less. Subbed.

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