Meanwhile, the single-player career structure is excellent. GRID divides its races into three territories – Europe, the US and Japan – and several different types, ranging from straight races to destruction derbies, drift races and the touge; a Japanese mountain-racing tournament where two cars face off over two stretches of track. As with PGR4, it’s the variety of the events that keeps things fresh. One minute you’re engaged in a fierce muscle car brawl through the streets of San Francisco, the next you’re drifting for points on the neon-lit streets of Shibuya, the next you could be speeding through a Yokohama industrial district dodging stacks of packing crates and waiting trucks. Put that kind of thing together with plentiful car-nage and Flashback, and mucho hilarity ensues.
As in the TOCA Race Driver games, it’s all about simulating a racing career, but GRID differs in how it handles this. You kick off as a rookie driver with only one battered Mustang in the garage and some major repair bills to pay. You can take jobs as a fill-in driver for other teams, but once you’ve made enough to fix your vehicle you can start your own racing team and compete for yourself. It all comes down to winning cash and building your reputation – you’ll need the former to buy cars in which to compete in the various events, and the latter to earn new licenses in each of the three territories. New licenses then open up new events. The great thing is that you’re always making progress and that when you do hit a brick wall – and in this challenging driving game you will – there’s always something else you can try, whether another event or a quick little earner for another team.
On top of this you get the very basics of team management. You’ll get offers from sponsors, which translate into cash bonuses when you achieve certain objectives in events. With only a certain number of slots on your cars you need to be careful; do you plump for high reward sponsors that only deliver when you win a race (or at least a podium place) or do you play it safe with the cheapskates who are even happy when you only finish? As the game progresses, you’ll also need to recruit and handle other drivers. As a one man band you can win all the races, but still lose the team championship to your rivals. It all helps to round the game out, and makes up for the lack of deep car customisation options.