When GRID Legends launches in a month’s time one of the brand new features it will bring is a special story mode by the name of “Driven to Glory”…
Unlike previous attempts at a story mode we’ve seen recently from the Codemasters stable, the narrative of Driven to Glory is acted out by real human beings, rather than just their voices. It features a virtual set similar to that used in the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
The story is written by Brad Kane, who was also a lead writer for Ghost of Tsushima — itself destined for a big-screen adaptation — and focuses on the perennial also-ran team Seneca as it seeks to reverse its fortunes and challenge Ravenwest for the title. That’s a name that should resonate with GRID veterans, as it dates back to the first game, Race Driver: Grid.
We’ve been given access to a pre-release build of GRID Legends to have a look at the early stages of the story. While we’re only permitted to share our thoughts on the first six chapters, there’ll be some mild story spoilers below.
The story itself starts with a cold open set some considerable way down through the plot. You’re thrown into a prototype car in the closing stages of a race at the new Strada Alpina circuit just after Ravenwest’s Nathan McKane (in the video above, in full asshat flow) has caused a major accident rather than allow your team-mate Yume Tanaka to pass for the lead. Not knowing her fate, you need to guide your own crippled car home.
It then jumps back to what’s really the beginning. Shot in the Drive to Survive-style, cameras follow the team boss of the Seneca squad, Marcus Ado, as he tries to find a new driver to partner Tanaka for the upcoming season. Their first choice can’t keep a car on the track or the right way up, and quit before the season started, so Ado is watching rookie leagues to spot new talent.
He has his eye on one driver, but that’s where you come in. Driving as the un-named, un-seen Driver 22, your first job in a touring car race is to finish ahead of the guy Ado is there to look at to catch his eye.
Codemasters has elected to avoid naming or voicing Driver 22 in Driven to Glory in order to provide a blank slate; if the driver has no name or voice, they have no gender or personality, making it easier for players of all stripes to imagine themselves in their shoes.
Unsurprisingly, the guy you beat out of a Seneca seat immediately becomes your Nemesis — bringing back the system from 2019’s GRID, which sees the AI take a dislike to you and target you for punts, sideswipes, and the occasional brake-check.
However, while he’s raging inside his algorithm at the missed opportunity, you’re set to work by Seneca in testing, with a Ginetta G55 your predecessor kept crashing, before being put into full races where your only goal is to keep up with your seasoned pro new team mate. That puts you into the crosshairs of fellow midfield team Voltz and star driver Valentin Manzi.
Surprisingly, the story actually works reasonably well to this point. It acts as a tutorial for some of the game’s features, such as the Nemesis system and various car classes as you’re thrust into them seemingly on a whim, and introduces you to some of the important characters on the GRID (as it’s constantly styled). It certainly clues you into the AI difficulty; if you’ve got any experience at all of racing games, avoid the bottom two settings because it’ll be a walkover each time.
While the plot thus far seems familiar — DIRT 5 and F1 2021 both had a similar theme of the player newbie, and the arrogant front runner who causes a major on-track incident — the first six chapters swish by pretty quickly, and we’re sure there’s more to come in the remaining 30 chapters. Based on the early stages, it feels like it’ll add up to about 6-8 hours of gameplay.
Notably the decision to go with live-action rather than CGI (or just voiceover references to a plot) lends a little authenticity to it all, and the Drive to Survive style actually works much better than the attempts at dramatization we’ve seen in previous racing game stories.
You’ll be able to play Driven to Glory yourself when GRID Legends launches on February 25, on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms.
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