Title: GRIP: Combat Racing
Developer: Caged Element
Publisher: Wired Productions
Genre: Racing, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: 10+ Fantasy Violence
Release Date: 06/11/2018
Price: £32.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title
GRIP: Combat Racing, designed and developed by Caged Element, is advertised on the Nintendo eStore as a ‘high octane, hardcore combat racer’ which is packing ‘ferocious speed’ and is ‘armed to the teeth with heavy weapons.’ Although an accurate depiction of what this game is about, it only just scratches the surface.
Read on for a Rapid Review of what is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite games on the Nintendo Switch so far.
What was immediately apparent when loading GRIP for the first time was just how polished it looked. Far too often developers have such confidence in the gameplay on offer in their creations that finer details such as menus are neglected. This is not the case here, as Caged Element have provided a fantastic array of options, clearly displayed and with excellent visuals to boot. Although it may seem small in the grand scheme of things, I truly believe that your first interaction with a game sets the tone and GRIP did not disappoint.
The in-game visuals are just as impressive, with so many of the environments being engaging and well-designed. The lighting is excellent, with races in both day and night looking crisp and clear. My only grievance with the graphics is when awaiting the green light to start racing, the vehicle and the surrounding area was not as pleasing on the eye.
Coupled with the visuals was an outstanding selection of in-game music which helped to create the futuristic atmosphere that GRIP is founded upon. Boasting Drum and Bass records from Hospital Records – a renowned independent record label who have also worked on Forza Horizon 4 – it was an excellent way to begin proceedings.
To set the scene for this otherworldly racer, there is a backstory provided within the ‘Game Info’ section of the main menu. To summarise:
GRIP is founded upon an illegal street racing scene which came to prominence in the early 21st century. Very quickly, the racing went from harmless fun to winning at all costs: danger, deception and death becoming commonplace. The furore surrounding the races meant that others saw it as an opportunity to earn money, and very soon the black market was rife with outside agencies taking full advantage. What unfolded was a corrupt racing organisation where money was the object, and drivers would do everything they could to get their hands on the coveted prize. Cars became machines, races became battlegrounds and when the military got involved, there was no alternative but to move the racing to the far reaches of the world, which are presented to you in all their creative glory.
What I particularly liked about both the backstory and where to find it, is that GRIP lets the racing do the talking. Yes there is a career mode with different objectives for each race which all allude to the story shared, however it isn’t forced upon you. If you want an out and out racer, you’ll get one in GRIP.
With regards to the racing on offer, there is a plethora of options. They are split into three main modes: Race, Arena and Carkour (a fantastic play on words!) Each mode has a number of subsequent options within, and the variety is excellent.
- Race: Classic, Ultimate, Elimination, Speed Demon and Time Trial
- Arena: Deathmatch, Timebomb and Steal the Stash
Carkour: Obstacle courses
The gameplay modes on offer are exceptional; however, without solid racing physics and car mechanics, it could all have been about style with no substance. Fortunately, GRIP, powered by the Unreal 4 Engine, makes full use of it all and excels in some areas. Being able to scale walls, ceilings and ramps at incredible speeds sound like a development nightmare.
Somehow, Caged Element has been able to deliver a smooth racing experience which allows you to pull off some incredible transitions from one to the other without compromising on frame-rate or graphics. Naturally, the game has a steep learning curve, and the early stages can make you feel like it isn’t as smooth as you would like, however, a few races in and I was barrel-rolling from ceilings to walls and anything else I could get my wheels on.
With such a steep learning curve and so many gameplay elements to the racing, it could have been overwhelming and one that some may not have persevered with. The development team have considered this and have provided both a tutorial and a staggered start to the different elements. For example, Tier 1 of the 11 tiers in the campaign only allows for speed pickups, meaning no weapons are available en-route.
This was an excellent strategy to enable the player to get to grips – pardon the pun – with the mechanics before introducing the weapons of mass destruction! Ranging from swarms of micro-missiles to homing devices and rapid-fire MGs, there are many weapon pick-ups available to suit your playstyle.
Outside of the lengthy campaign mode, which features upward of three tournaments per tier, GRIP also provides ‘Split-Screen’ and ‘Online’ modes. Both take the best of the racing and offer a multiplayer experience which is an excellent way to increase the longevity of this title. With all the ‘Race’ and ‘Arena’ options present here, there is a lot of fun to be had amongst friends. I had no problems with online connection during my playthrough and I am already looking forward to many more online races in the future.
Being everything I wanted it to be and then some, GRIP: Combat Racing is an excellent advocate for utilising tried and tested game ideals and offering a modern twist. With similarities evident between GRIP and the likes of Mario Kart, Rollcage and Wipeout, it is clear that Caged Element have been ambitious in their pursuit of the racing crown. A bold move and one which could have backfired, I salute Caged Element for providing a game which is an absolute blast to play from start to finish. If this game gets the following it rightfully deserves, then Mario Kart Mondays could very soon be shelved to make way for the new combat racer in town.
GRIP: Combat Racing AirBlades update
After the recent update to GRIP by Caged Element, I returned to see if this 5-star game could get any better. Much like everything else with this game, the Developers have not disappointed. Offered as a free update, the ‘Airblades’ DLC provides an opportunity to race on all the current tracks, as well as some new ones, in anti-gravity racers reminiscent of those found in WipeOut. With the base game released with clear inspiration taken from Rollcage, we now have what I would consider being one of the most comprehensive racing experiences around.
With an already fit-to-burst career mode and many multiplayer options, the chance to now relive all of this with a different vehicle class is exceptional value from Caged Element. It has completely altered the feel of the game, even though all the features from the four-wheeled gameplay are present. Unexpectedly, I have now found GRIP to be yet more enjoyable, and this DLC is just another reason to purchase this incredible offering by Caged Element and Wired Productions.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase GRIP: Combat Racing on the Nintendo eShop by using the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/GRIP-1452442.html