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It's a bit like the 'sands of time' from Prince of Persia, but fitted to a racing game, and it works like a treat. No longer will a bad move from an AI or a stupid mistake on the last of five laps leave you spitting and swearing at the screen in disbelief. No longer do you have to play it safe just because a risky manoeuvre could ruin your entire race. At the same time, you can only use Flashback a specific number of times, so while it will save your bacon at a crucial moment, you can't employ it willy-nilly just because you're sure you could have taken that corner slightly faster. And if you keep on crashing, you'll eventually run out of second chances. In other words, it's cool and not at all a game breaker.
You'll be using it for a while, because the handling takes a little getting used to. The last racing game I played in depth was GT5: Prologue, and the cars in GRID feel noticeably lighter and more bouncy on the tarmac, and more inclined to slide out if you're too aggressive with the accelerator or the brake. Don't worry - having acclimatised I loved the feel, and it all adds to that sense of reckless racing that makes GRID such a thriller on the track. In fact, this was the first racing game in ages where I felt excited about switching from a pad to my trusty Logitech steering wheel and pedals just so I could get a step closer to the real deal.
Better still, the game's customisation options are excellent. Even if you switch off all the driving assists, switch off race restarts and lock the view to the cockpit camera (which is every bit as excellent as it was in Colin McRae: DIRT) the experience won't be quite as realistic as FIA GTR2 on the PC, and I think the arguments between GRID fans and fans of Forza 2 or GT5: Prologue might go on for months. For me, however, it ticks all the right boxes. With the driving aids on, you can pick up the game reasonably quickly, but it takes a certain amount of skill and daring to really wring the most from your vehicle.