Grip: Combat Racing is one of the most ambitious racing titles to date, making it so that Caged Element can stand out among their peers. How they do so may surprise those who give their game a chance. Find out today why Cage Element has made one of the best Rollecage-style racers starting today.
+Countless unlocks that can be earned through playing the game
+Customization options for multiplayer make every race completely different from another
+Extremely beautiful graphics and buttery smooth framerates
+Same-seat local multiplayer that allows for up to 4-local racers to play at a single time
-Can be overwhelming to players starting out due to how many menus there actually are
In a day and age where games are pushing for the best and most realistic racing titles on the market, there are still a few titles out there that decide to do the opposite. Gamers have often been spoonfed the idea that the “most realistic titles are the best” reasoning behind why their game should be the first they look at.
On the side note, there are games that decide to do the opposite and throw that semi-conventional mindset out the window. Among those that do develop those kinds of games comes Caged Element with their Rollcage-style racing with Grip: Combat Racing. A game that doesn’t beg of you to buy its DLC from the very start nor does it embellish itself with the idea of an optional season pass as a pop-up screen the moment you load into the game itself.
So let’s start our engines and take a look at what makes Grip: Combat Racing as unique as it is.
Tracks aren’t just side to side and straight ahead. You’re going to need to think outside the box.
When you think of a game like Forza Horizon 4, Project Cars 2 or Gran Turismo Sport, you often think about how cars work in our really-real world. You think about tracks being side-to-side, the heat of your tires, the condition of your transmission as you blast across the tracks at speeds exceeding 100mph, but what you don’t think about is how those tracks could make the experience even better.
That’s where Grip: Combat Racing comes to play. Tracks are no longer a side-to-side affair. Instead, you have to think outside the box in order to slide sideways up a wall, boost your way to the ceiling and use it as your track or even speed past your opponents while hitting the boosters once you get it. You even have to think about flipping upside-down while in mid-air in order to continue on your way, but you also have to consider how your car will land.
After all, tracks aren’t always going to allow you to use the wall or ceiling to your advantage. You’ll speed through pieces of broken architecture on the maps, through what looks like they could have been parts of an interplanetary ship. You’ll even have to remember the way you’ll face the moment your car begins to land.
All of this momentum is backed by the fact that the cars themselves move at blindingly-high velocities that require more situational awareness and cool-headedness than you might expect. One wrong move could send your car flying off the side of a track or even spinning about forcing you to fight for control. As a result, the game itself can seem dizzying despite its adrenaline-inducing fun it has to offer.
Down the rabbit hole we must go
Vehicles – or whatever you want to call these racers – will swirl about, winding across walls and ceilings and even tunnels that you will race across more than once. In tunnels, it may be hard to keep which way is up and which side is down as you race through swirling tubes or sideways on a wall. The camera itself will shift with your car, making it easier for you to navigate what way you are facing.
If you think the name Grip is a joke, you may find that it’s not as it’s not just the way your vehicles hold to the track as you swerve to get up on a wall or boost yourself up to the track above (get rid of the idea of the track above being a “ceiling” as it doesn’t apply here) and you will find yourself gripping your controller as tight as you can.
Unlike your standard racing titles, Grip: Combat Racing is on par with games such as Wipeout and Rollcage due to how fast the racing actually is. You’ll find yourself gripping your controller as tight as you can, thumbs pressing down against the analog sticks as you swerve to make it to the next turn on a track or mount the wall you intended to aim for as the track shifted course.
Let alone are levels amazingly designed, there’s a lot to do and unlock
Much like any racing game, you can already imagine there are things to unlock and those things come aplenty when Grip: Combat Racing is involved. First, you have car parts in your garage, plenty of them to unlock. Levels themselves to unlock them also don’t come easily earned if you are looking to get a new paint or body style for your car.
With more than twenty levels worth the unlocks to be earned; you’ll be busy for quite some time. There’s tires to be earned, body styles, rims and even various paint jobs to decorate your car with as you progress. In many ways, it’s a game that is more massive than it initially seems as if the team was forced to work in crunch ahead of the official launch for Grip: Combat Racing.
There are lots of variations to tracks already in the game. There are different types ranging from night to day and even hazards that will appear. That being said, Grip is massive and rather impressive at that. But you may be wondering, what doesn’t Grip: Combat Racing actually have? Well, VR, that’s about it. Just some VR from making it an insanely fun game – not that it isn’t already.
There’s more than meets the eye at first glance
When looking at Grip: Combat Racing for the very first time, you may find yourself in for a bit of a doozy. There’s a lot to take in at first. There’s a numerous amount of mods, styles to unlock, configurations to go over and even stats that come into play with every single vehicle you can use. Hell, there’s even a freaking online mode you can jump straight into if you so desire.
But, if you do want a place to start, go with the Career Mode, it won’t hurt and it’ll help you learn the ropes as you go. It’s set up as a tiered tournament system, each section of three circuits in a tier is tied up to three separate events within each circuit you will run. Each tier provides harder and harder challenges you will need to overcome across all 11 tiers, 44 tournaments and somewhere around 150 races – assuming you don’t have to repeat a few.
Unlike most racers, however, Caged Element does a good job at pacing out how you will experience the game from start to finish in the single-player mode. You’ll find yourself getting acclimated to Grip’s insanely fast speeds and wall-climbing mechanics. You’ll first get used to using boosts, moving along walls, bouncing your car and even teleporting back if you’ve gone off track or gotten turned around.
If you find yourself frustrated and annoyed with how your race is going, restart the race. You can restart your races as many times as you wish while adjusting to the game and how it plays. Just don’t expect it to be anything like Project Cars 2; it’s a much, much different experience altogether.
As you progress you’ll find yourself slowly growing acclimated to the new tracks as they appear, the weapons you can use including weapons, missiles, shields, boosts and plenty of other items to enjoy. Just imagine Mario Kart or Twisted Metal, and you have a decent idea of what to expect as far as destruction goes.
The designs are well done and they aren’t something that will seem overwhelming thanks to the way they are slowly introduced into the games core mechanics over the span of several hours. Around the sixth or so tier, you’ll find yourself right at home and ready to take the combat into online multiplayer against five other players to see who is the best of them all.
But don’t jump straight on in to see how multiplayer works. It’s highly suggested that you take your time, work your way through each of the tracks and rank yourself up. If you want to change things up, you can race in your basic racing mode or even an elimination mode, which is just what it sounds like: Use every weapon that you can to your advantage.
And then you have a Battle Arena Combat type mode, one that may seem rather familiar to you if you’ve ever played a Twisted Metal game before. The rules are simple, blow as many of your opponents as you can to smithereens before someone else takes the lead. Alongside this mode are some basic and rather fun modes including deathmatch, hot potato style modes and even a good ol’ capture-the-flag style mode.
The attention to detail is amazing
Much like any racing game on the market, we all tend to expect a decent amount of detail within the game. For Grip: Combat Racing, there’s quite a bit of it for that matter. Tracks themselves are almost immaculately detailed, each one offering their own designs, artistic designs, lighting and animations along with their very own challenges that they have to offer.
Even with the grain effect on the screen, vehicles, landscapes, and tracks themselves are filled to the brim with detail. Even lighting effects, weapon effects, and explosions are a sight to be seen. The soundtrack itself fits in rather well, giving us a chance to see just how far a studio like Cage Element can go in order to bring their game to life.
Bring in the fact you’re seeing all of this at lightning speed, you can only imagine what it’s like and what you’ll experience as things get underway. For those looking to find themselves fully immersed, it’s not hard to imagine when you experience it for yourself. Racing is fast, where you’ll rush around at breakneck speeds, almost cringing at any bump, scrape, or your car will make as your race begins
Whether you are racing on a wall, on the ceiling or on the ground; you’ll notice that every track on a single course has an extreme amount of detail put into the device itself. You’ll find track obstructions, item pick-ups and random boosts or ramps placed across the tracks. But that’s where the game is fun, that’s when the chaos becomes real, it’s this very reason Grip: Combat Racing stands out among its competitor titles.
Multiplayer is where Grip really shines
When looking at games, it’s not uncommon to hear that multiplayer is the key component to make the game succeed. Unlike most, Grip: Combat Racing shines both online and offline in a number of ways, but where it shines the most is indeed the online multiplayer component itself.
Whether it’s the visuals, the buttery smooth 60fps or the idea of the idea of sitting down going into split-screen with four other friends (remember those days of Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Double Dash on the Game Cube?) is an absolute delight. There’s nothing better than hearing the reaction of your friends as you are decimating them during a race or the other way around.
It’s an absolute blast and something you don’t often see in modern games. If you don’t have any friends to duke it out offline with, then head online and try out the up-to-10-person online mode(s) that are available for you to enjoy. You can choose single races, build tournaments using the in-game tournaments, which I did and still do admire myself.
I’ve spent hours on end playing the online mode when not working my way through the tiers. I’ve found reasons to mix and match the various modes throughout the game, using the track picker for my tournaments in order to make hours worth the races possible for those I race with and myself. You can even tweak the settings yourself, changing various settings to make the matches as fun and or as challenging as you wish. Don’t like the settings? Start over and tweak your settings to make the perfect balance within your races.
There are tons of details regarding custom races, matchmaking, and customizations. It’s all about making the game the best experience you can have thanks to the ability to tweak its settings. This level of detail shows just how much love and devotion the developers put into the game themselves. Just remember, even as fun as this game is, don’t let the need, the need for speed, get under your veins as you race across every track.
Crossing the finish line. The Conclusion.
It seems odd we don’t get as many arcadey racers with the attention to detail that Caged Element has given to Grip: Combat Racing. This indie title itself could very well stand side-by-side with some of today’s hottest AAA titles on the market while doing its very own thing. It even leaves a nice warm spot for those who wished Death Rally, Full Auto, and Roadblasters 1987.
Grip: Combat Racing
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Caged Element
Publisher: Wired Productions
Release Date: Available Now
If those are your kinds of games, then Grip: Combat Racing is right up your alley and will give you one of the best racing experiences you’ll ever have.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.