Grip: Combat Racing Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Caged Element

Publisher: Wired Productions

Release Date: November 6th 2018

Price as of Article: $29.99 USD, £29.99 GBP

Game code provided by Wired Productions for review

Story

Believe it or not, there is a story here but it’s not shown in any meaningful way. It can only be seen in the Grip: Combat Racing in-game manual that is located on the main menu under game info. But if you don’t go looking for it, you would never know it’s even there as it’s not mentioned at all in the game, so I don’t really think it’s worth mentioning here either.

Gameplay

Grip: Combat Racing is a fast octane racer where you can drive one of the 15 vehicles across 5 different manufacturers. However, these aren’t your typical vehicles as each one can be flipped over and still have the ability to carry on moving. Plus, if a vehicle is going fast enough, they can even drive on walls and ceilings, making them quite versatile on the track.

Very similar to Rollcage, which was released in 1999 on PC and PlayStation,Grip has the same concept of all-terrain vehicles that can drive on almost any surface, even if they’re flipped over they can carry on regardless. Both games are similar but I think Grip: Combat Racer does enough new to make it feel original.

Campaign!

What’s apparent from the very beginning is there is alot on offer to keep you busy through the course of your game-time with Grip.

There’s a campaign mode with 11 tiers which steadily increase in difficulty. Each tier has a number of tournaments that need to be completed to advance to the next tournament. Once all tournaments are completed in the tier, then you can advance to the next one.

New race types will be introduced as you move through each tier.

You may start with classic races then move into elimination events – ultimate races where all other racers are extremely trigger happy.

You will even encounter arena style deathmatches similar to MK and other variety of events that spice up your gameplay.

It can be difficult even from the get go as other CPU racers are quite aggressive and try and push, blow you off the track with one of the many high-tech weapon choices which will be unlocked as progress through the campaign.

Grip Screenshot
Weapons!

There are 9 different weapons to play with that are normally spewed across the track as green orbs. Once picked up, you can use them in either the left or right-hand slots of your vehicle. Some have homing technology that once locked on, can fire towards enemy cars. Others can provide you rear shielding that can protect you from attacks while others have area of effect that can distort other drivers’ visions, disrupting other vehicles on the road.

Some weapons will need to be unlocked through playing in campaign mode.

My experience!

In early tiers, you don’t always have to be the 1st across the finish line – as long you place in the top 3, you still might complete the tournament. Some of the races I’ve won by getting the best time if there’s been a tie breaker situation, so aim for good race times too while you’re on the track as it really helped me out on tougher tournaments.

There are a lot of tiers to make your way through but it’s a little slow. I really wish there was some sort of story cut-scenes through the campaign to keep it going as it is just a bunch of races and arena style matches. While it can be fun and challenging, it also feels like you’re just going through the motions to level up enough to unlock the next car part. I’ve made it through half the way point in campaign but I’ll be honest, I’ve mainly been playing single race modes, local, and online play. Your mileage may vary in campaign mode. While different sorts of races will be introduced, it can start feeling like repetition is setting in. I think campaign is a little longer than it should be and I grew tired of it after a while.

Level up!

There’s a leveling system that will work with all the game modes. Every time you win, lose, or draw, you gain experience which once it reaches its threshold will level you up, thereby unlocking new content!

Your level, bar is located in the middle of the bottom of the screen. New vehicles, car parts, or modes will be unlocked with each successful level up, so you’ve always got a reason to keep playing as new content will become available each level.

Grip Screenshot 2
Race me!

There’s a single player option which has 3 sections: you can race, play arena, or carkour.

Race lets play 5 different options, these are: classic, Ultimate, Elimination, Time, and Demon. Each having their own different play styles.

In race, there are 4 planets, each with their own set of tracks to race on. There are 22 courses in the game, some of these are reverse versions though. You also change configurations: from the number of laps, pickups, destructible vehicles, to mirror tracks, and even weather conditions before starting any race.

Arena – Deathmatch!

Then we have Arena Mode with 3 options (note some of these need to be unlocked first)

Modes are: Deathmatch, Steal the Stash, and the Bomb.

There are 5 different arenas spread across 4 different planets. These are all pretty big and offer a lot on different routes, jumps, and weapons.

Whichever mode you pick, you can also change configurations to suit your play-style.

Parkour = Carkour!

You can even play parkour, or in this case, Carkour Mode through 19 challenges. These range from easy all the way to nightmare.

Test your car skills to the max on some very small and narrow path ways. Your main goal is to get the crystal at the end in the shortest amount of time – it demands precision to get through tougher challengers.

Garage – pimp my ride!

Garage is where you’ll be spending time unlocking new vehicles and where you’ll customise them in different ways.

Some of the options you can use on your vehicle are: body, rims, tires, and paint shop. You can change primary, secondary, and tertiary colours of your car with the help of the slide bars,meaning all colours of the rainbow are accessible for you to use.

As you progress, you unlock new paint schemes with each successful level that you can equip to your car and each car has their own schemes.

You can also paint 1 decal on your vehicle, again these will be unlocked over the course of your play time. These can be plastered onto your car and the colours can be edited too. You can also change the pitch, scale of each decal – each vehicle has its own ones to use.

Grip Screenshot 6

And last, but not the least, are tires which again will be unlocked as you progress. There are a max of 30 tires to pick from, you can also change the rims as well.

Each decal or rim may be different for each vehicle while all tires can be equipped with any car.

You can definitely make your vehicle your own with what’s on offer. Sadly though, there’s no way to upgrade your vehicle’s performance in any way, it’s mostly all cosmetic.

However, each car has their own stats that split between accelerate, speed, grip, brakes, and strength.

I found having car with good accelerate is a must as collisions on track is common practice.

For closer look at your finished car you can press Y button to examine your vehicle.

Game Info!

Game information offers a wide array of info on your player stats, game manual for any queries about any of games mechanics, as well as leaderboards in various modes.

How do I drive this thing!

Controls can be changed in the settings menu but this how my set-up is configured.

ZR is for accelerate, ZL button is for reversing.

If you press B button, the back end of your car jumps giving you a little air. If you use this while in a tunnel or low hanging celling areas, you can attach yourself to it and continue racing.

If you press the X button, you use burn boost which slowly charges up over time and is only useful for getting back into the race if you crash.

Pressing Y button lets you instantly brake.

The L and R bumpers are for your weapons which appear in two circles in the left-hand corner. Single tap with activate either left or right weapons.

By pressing the direction pad, you can swap among the 5 different camera angles.

And last but not least, you can steer with left analogue stick and look around with right one.

Controls can be edited through 3 different configurations: A, B,and C.

Grip Screenshot 4

Heat is on!

It looks like this game has definitely taken inspiration from other racing games in its genre, such as Rollcage being top one with its cars being able to drive on ceilings or tunnels and having the ability to be flipped and keep on driving no matter what. There’s nothing cooler than racing on the side of a wall and it really changes the perspective of the race.

Other games I think that are similar to Grip is WipeOut and F-Zero as these are known for their extreme need for speed and their ability to defy gravity, and I think Grip has the same mechanics with its unique abilities to also defy gravity.

Keeping your speed up allows you to literally drive on walls or ceilings, making new paths available at a moment’s notice.

While this may not reach new heights of something like latter titles, it’s definitely got alot going for it and there alot here get a “grip” on.

Extra Mechanics!

Even though you’ll be focusing on racing, there are few other things to take into account. If you’re planning on driving up walls or on ceilings, you’ll need to be going fast to do so, otherwise, you will simply not have enough speed and fall off. For example, if you’re driving in tunnel with a low hanging ceiling, you can use your jump button to jump from floor to ceiling – this can be great to avoid incoming fire or snag pick-ups.

If you’ve crashed into wall or enemy vehicle, just use your secondary boost which you can use to get you back into the race.Remember, it charges back up by running across green pads.

Also, there are a wide range of weapons that help you or hinder your enemies, but be careful in the campaign mode as when you take out other drivers, they will turn into your rivals and at end of tournament and you may have face them one on one! So be ready!

Multiplayer, online!

Grip also supports local multiplayer as well as online play which is fantastic inclusion with any racer.

It’s really easy to set up a local game. You can use single joy-cons or a pro control – it’s your choice.

There are some options for racing and arena battles in local multiplayer but carkour isn’t available to use.

Screen splits up to your typical split-screen formation and everything works fine.

It’s just as fast and intense with friends and it’s not just you on your own as all CPU racers will be there to intensify the experience.

I had good couple of goes with my family and it was pretty fun – I enjoyed it a lot.

Online is available too and it’s just as frantic as single player. You can create a private game, quick match, as well as join private games.

I can see online mode being crowded on launch day while everyone gets accustomed to how the game plays.

Grip Screenshot 3

Huge tracks!

Tracks in Grip: Combat Racing are really huge with loads of flips, upside down track designs, as well as few open spaces with short cuts and tight turns arounds.

Each planet has a different theme such as Jahtra which is a desert planet with huge mountains, extreme heat, sand storms, and large satellite dishes and mining equipment spew around.

Course will take you to some great track designs that will leave your head spinning.

There are even areas of the track which you can destroy, revealing new short cuts.

Another planet available is called Liddo-s. It’s completely different to Jahtrawhich and consists of alot of alien plant life and abandoned facilities making each race track feel unique for each of different planets available.

Each track has its own difficulty, normal, reverse races, as well as mirror versions.

Tracks are really nice to look at and have a lot of detail to them.

I can’t see!

One of my biggest complaints are signs on the race tracks. As you are moving at 485mph, it’s hard to see some of the tiny red signs telling you to turn here. This can lead to alot of crashing straight into walls or falling into the abyss below and sometimes some hilarious jumps that have you pressing video capture button just so you rewatch them.

Signs are just too small to make out while moving quickly and when the track takes you to a wall or wants you to flip to the ceiling it can be difficult to understand where you need to be going, especially in later areas like city tracks. Some of the course are in complete darkness, making small signs even a greater problem to see.

Memorizing the tracks may be needed!

Thankfully, the cars I’ve been using do have great acceleration, so I can get back into races pretty quickly or you can press – button to reset your vehicle if the worst happens.

It’s a shame as courses are a real highlight and when they work they work great. It’s just down to memorizing the layout for most of the tracks which most time got me through them.

Just wish some of the signs were bigger then there will be no problem here.

Enemy racers!

Other issue is CPU cars. For example, I’ve just used a weapon to take out the car in front of me and instead of it flying off the track, they tend to crash in middle of the race track and if you hit into them you are stopped dead in your tracks, making it easy for others to overtake you.

People may say to dodge crashed cars and yes, that’s an option on bigger tracks, but some of the race courses have a tight track space and there’s little room to move, and sometimes there’s just not enough time to dodge and crashing into a car is unavoidable.

It’s frustrating when you’re in 2nd place and you take out the front runner with a great missile hit, only for that front runner to crash straight into you ruining your race while you frantically reverse your way out of situation or press reset button.

It can be total buzz kill, yes, you can climb back up to the top but I’ve had few races where I’ve been on my last lap only for that to happen and I’ve ended up coming last which is highly annoying.

To be honest, these are the only cons I’ve experienced that have made me grit my teeth.

Grip Screenshot 5

Audio

Music in Grip: Combat Racing is your typical collection of techo and rock music. I mean, it fits the game well but I never really paid too much attention to it as the game is so frantic and fast that I’ve mostly been focusing on gameplay.

All sound effects are fine too but nothing really stellar to speak of.

Visuals & Performance

Visuals in Grip is pretty nice, like all vehicle designs and levels themselves look great. Little details like driving past huge pylons that shoot electricity can actually distort your HUD which is really a neat touch. Or driving through a blizzard as you race down the side of mountain. All of these look nice and give tracks a unique personality.

Performance has been solid for me and I have not experienced any crashes or issues to speak of. I feel like the game was running on 30fps when I first tried it, but apparently there’s been an update and I can see definitive improvements in framerate.

Game also supports screenshots, video capture, and cloud saves, as well as pro controller support.

Value

At £29.99, I think the game is well worth the cost. Not only can you buy the game digitally, but it’s also coming out with a physical edition which is great. It has a plethora of single and multiplayer options, unique ability to drive onto walls and ceilings and not being stopped when your flipped over. Deathmatch arena style gameplay, racing, carkour challenges, as well as customizing your cars. And there’s extra content to unlock too. It has flaws but nothing that I think would ruin what’s here.

Pros

P

Huge tracks

P

Customise your vehicles

P

Local, online, single player content

P

Arena style deathmatches

P

Drive on walls and ceilings at high speed

Cons

P

Track signs are too small and can cause collisions

P

Has a weapon similar to blue shell in MK8

P

Wish you could customise your cars’ performance