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Grip – Wired Productions Races at PAX East 2018


Wired Productions have been bringing forth stellar, unconventional titles to the gaming space, such as 2016 Super Dungeon Bros and last year’s Vostok Inc, which was a personal favorite game last year. Now, this year, Wired Productions bringing Grip, a futuristic combat racing game greatly inspired by the PlayStation Classic, Roll Cage to PAX East.

Grip is a vehicular action and racing game coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch Xbox One and PC. As a fan of sci-fi and anything futuristic, I decided to check out Grip first thing. I wasn’t too familiar with the game, other than that it was a fast racing game that opted for powerful ground vehicles, as opposed to flying spaceships. I began the game, and the demo greatly surprised me.

The world of Grip is set in the future of space exploration and colonization. In Grip, a massive, illegal racing operation is underway, taking place across multiple planets and locations. Lawmakers, law-enforcement, and even the media have attempted to stop it, but the race is so profitable and wildly popular, they have been unable to do so. 

In racing games, the design of your vehicles is part of the appeal, and Grip has a unique direction that also impacts the gameplay. In grip, the vehicles are wide, powerful, and have a low-center of gravity. The wheels are on the outside of the chassis, allowing for maximum traction over the terrain. In Grip, players can ride along the sides of canyon walls or flat ramps, which will give players an advantage, if used properly. Of course, there are weapons and the challenges of that particular course.

I had time for one race, which took place on a Martian-like planet. The terrain was jagged, edgy and unforgiving. The course conditions weren’t optimal either, as a dust storm swept through. However, this wasn’t going to stop my pursuit of first place. Shortly after the level loaded, I was off.

The first impression of Grip is its blistering speed! I was absolutely amazed at how fast, responsive, but also polished the game was, considering the extreme momentum and kinetic energy the game instantly produced. The vehicles were not made of feathers, however, as the speed was also in relation to the weight and size of the vehicle. As mentioned before, these are not flying spaceships, and as such, the sensation of flight or hovering was not present. Instead, the sensation of a massive armored tank, rumbling through at over 200mph, was the delightful feedback I sensed when playing.

The race was tough, and I quickly fell behind. We navigated through a mining facility, filled with congested corridors, maintenance bays, utility ramps, and dangerous mining equipment. Despite the strong sensation of speed, the game looked fantastic! I couldn’t help but try and take a moment to see the course around me. Every moment, we were headed to someplace different and unexpected. Once the weapons started flying, the race got even crazier.

Laser machine guns, rockets, bombs, turbo boosts, the arsenal was all here. Naturally, I didn’t look at the instructions, so there was a moment where I had no idea what I was doing. But soon, I figured out how to send my weapons down the exhaust of every opponent in front of me.  Explosions and plasma fire erupted across the track. Some racers were scrapped while other survived.m

During my playthrough, I’d run into difficult A.I. Missiles were fired in my direction and their impact sent my vehicle up close. However, one of the unique aspects of the vehicles in Grip is the ability to keep driving, even when flipped over. If a vehicle is flipped upside down, players can keep driving. It is only when their armor is depleted or they stumble off-side that they will experience crushing defeat.

This brings me to one aspect that I found could use work. At one point, my vehicle was sent sky high. I landed on top of a pile of rocks and was unable to escape. Behind my vehicle was a massive boulder and in front was the perimeter of the race track. I lost my placing and consulted the control scheme. I was hopelessly stuck and struggled to get out. Fortunately, I found a “reset position” button, which allows players to teleport to the race course, should they encounter trouble. I teleported back to the race course but was dead last. 

Determined not to give up, I raced as hard and as fast as I could. Turbo boosts propelled me through the entire course, blowing past rivals. It’s in this moment of feverish racing that I really got the sense of the thrill that only Grip could provide. I used weapons, rammed vehicles and downright played dirty to get to first place. Alas, I placed in a respectable 5th place. With that, my demo concluded.

Following my demo, I got to speak to a representative at Wired Productions about Grip. Grip is actually a spiritual successor to a classic future racer called Roll Cage. Released on the PS1, Roll Cage was known for being an innovative racer, with its unique vehicle designs, incredible courses, and thumping soundtrack that included the hottest beats in 90’s EDM. The team that made Roll Cage, and are making Grip, belong to a team of developers that formerly worked at the legendary UK-based studio, Psygnosis. The studio created generation-defining titles such as Destruction Derby, G-Police, and The Colony Wars Trilogy.

Despite my unexpected error in Grip, the rest of the experience is looking to absolutely fantastic! The presentation and feel of the game bears weight and power, while the well-realized world and frantic chaos of the combat makes this a racing game for all racing fans, especially for those craving something different.

Grip is slated for release in 2018 for the PS4, Xbox One, steam.

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