Three years ago, a Kickstarter campaign began for GRIP. Within a minute of finding it, I had backed the project. I was a big fan of Psygnosis’ Rollcage on the original PlayStation and was eager to get my hands on an updated version of the game.
Unfortunately, the campaign faltered but the developers at Caged Element Inc. stuck with their game and shopped it around to publishers. A Steam Early Access release was next on the cards in 2016 with plenty of work left to do to complete the project. This year’s Rezzed saw the latest version of the game on show, so once again, a quick decision to play it was made and I’m glad I did.
• Developer: Caged Element Inc.
• Publisher: Wired Productions
• Previewed on: PC
• Also Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
• Release Date: Available Now (Steam Early Access), TBC (Other platforms)
If you’re unaware of the original Rollcage, or GRIP for that matter, they are futuristic combat racing games where the vehicles have oversized front and rear wheels. This allows them to drive upright or, well, not. Despite it being a straight-forward gimmick, it’s amazing how much mileage they get out of it.
The game is incredibly fast and fun. The speed and physics in the game mean that even the slightest dimple in the track can cause your car to flip uncontrollably but this edge-of-your-seat risk is exactly what makes it addictive and engrossing.
Caged Element have started out with 10 different tracks spread across multiple planets. The planets determine the biomes for the tracks within them; from volcanic, fiery hell-scapes to Hoth-like frozen wastelands. For their EGX Rezzed demo, they had two tracks, with reverse tracks also available. There are plans for more tracks as downloadable content but these will be free on release.
Before the race begins, you get to choose a vehicle; there are currently 8 different types spread across 3 different manufacturers. You can also customise your chosen car with different colours and body parts. The game will include micro-transactions on release for cosmetic add-ons but I didn’t get any more details on that during my time with the game.
Similar to Rollcage, GRIP is incredibly difficult. Trying to stick to a racing line is next to impossible, not only because of the speed of each vehicle but also the other racers. The tracks are also quite open, allowing you to seek out more direct lines or quieter back alleys to avoid weapon impacts. As you propel yourself around the area, you have to stay vigilant as you never know when a heat-seeking missile, machine gun, mine or visual obstacle will be thrown your way.
Managing boost pads is also important. They tend to be placed in the middle of the track, forcing you to risk more exposure than you might like but they also provide a significant speed increase. However, depending on the game mode, even finishing first is not a guarantee of success. It took us time to realise that we were actually playing the Ultimate Race mode, that rewards positions based on points rather than placing.
A note also needs to be made regarding the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the Rezzed showroom we were in was not conducive to hearing the soundtrack but I loved what I heard. I have since listened to some of the tracks on YouTube and they are exactly what you want to hear when you’re barrelling across a landscape at 1000 kmph.
If you have been looking forward to a combat racer, GRIP certainly scratches that itch. It is fast, fun and incredibly satisfying. There is no word yet on exactly when this will reach consoles but I’m ready to make another quick decision once it arrives!