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Game Day: GRID Autosport

Feral Interactive has brought Codemasters’ GRID Autosport to iOS, and it’s gorgeous. Codemasters is no stranger to racing games. The developer’s F1 2016 game was featured during Apple’s iPhone 7 keynote in 2016 and set a new standard for racing games on iOS when it debuted in November that year. Just over one year later, GRID Autosport is pushing those boundaries again.

Everything about this game is big starting with the download. GRID is 4 GB, but there’s almost 2 GB more of additional free content available as two In-App Purchases. It’s an unusual approach for a paid-up-front game that costs $9.99, but presumably, the In-App Purchases are designed to reduce the size of the initial download.

GRID requires horsepower too: iOS 11 and later, plus an iPhone SE, 7 or newer, any iPad Pro, or a standard 2017 iPad. The combination of storage space and hardware needed to run GRID limits its potential audience, but those who have the gear to play it are in for a treat.

GRID, which is a popular PC and console racing game, brings the depth and detail of those platforms to iOS. Few PC and console games shine on iOS, but the relatively simple controls of racing games make them an exception. With GRID, players steer by tilting their iPhone or iPad, brake by tapping the left side of the screen and accelerate by tapping the right side of the screen. If you prefer an onscreen wheel for steering or a gamepad, those and several other tweaks can be made in the game’s settings.

The simple controls don’t mean, however, that GRID is an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. Even in Rookie mode, which controls the brakes automatically, it took me a while to get the hang of the game’s tilt steering.

Graduating to a higher difficulty level takes time, but you won’t get bored or have to play the same tracks over and over as you learn the ropes because there’s what seems like a bottomless pit of tracks and cars to try. In fact, there are 100 cars and 100 tracks. There are also several game modes including Career, Custom Cup, Time Trial, and Quick Race modes and within each of those modes, several options. For example, Quick Race features Race, Time Attack, Endurance, Eliminator, Checkpoint, Demolition Derby (one of my favorites), and Drift events.

GRID will give your iOS devices a workout too. While I played on my iPhone X, it got noticeably warm, and the batteries of it and my 12.9-inch original iPad Pro drained quickly. This isn’t a game you’re going to want to start at the end of the day on 20% or less battery. It also took up to 20 seconds for levels to load, which is quick by most console standards, but noticeable on an iOS game.

Of the two devices I played on, I give the iPhone X the edge. The textures and colors of GRID come to life on the iPhone X’s display in a way that my original iPad Pro can’t match. GRID also uses haptic feedback to add another layer to the experience.

In contrast, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro is too heavy and cumbersome to use with tilt steering enabled. I quickly switched to my Steelseries Nimbus Bluetooth controller, which was a much nicer, more console-like experience. Still, the combination of the iPhone X’s screen and haptics make it my preferred platform for GRID.

I have only just scratched the surface of GRID, but have been impressed by it. The detail of the cars and environments is unusual for a mobile app. Although it’s an expensive game by current App Store standards, there are many, many hours of fun packed into GRID Autosport, which make that price well worth it for fans of racing games.

GRID Autosport is available on the App Store.

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