Race Driver: Grid

Interview: Pocket rocket

Race Driver: Create and Race surprised many for both bringing arcade style gameplay to what was traditionally seen as a simulator series and including a tremendous amount of depth for DS.

The game was developed by Firebrand Games, who have since launched into development on to the DS version of Race Driver: GRID. We dropped Firebrand Creative Director Peter Shea a few questions about its upcoming title.

Race Driver: Create and Race was seen as privileging arcade gameplay over simulation. Can we expect Race Driver: GRID to follow the same style?

Peter Shea: Yes, even more so. The reaction we received to Create and Race was that many people found the game too difficult and too "simulation". A situation exacerbated by only having digital controls on the DS.

On Grid we've redesigned and tuned our physics and handling simulations to give the game a more arcade 'pick up and play' feel than Create and Race.

There is still some proper circuit racing in there, but it's matched with more variety of events and gameplay styles, and the overall experience is more forgiving and rewarding.

How closely are you following the development of Race Driver: Grid for other consoles with the DS iteration?

PS: The initial design of Grid did roughly follow the direction taken by the HD versions of the game. Grid on DS has many of the same cars and circuits as Grid on other consoles, but it also has its own unique challenges, as well as the Track Designer.

Naturally the games look and feel very different and are designed to provide different experiences, but as most of the circuits were based upon real world roads and streets built to scale, there's a good chance you'll not only recognise circuits between versions, but actually be able to learn tracks on an HD version, to master them on the DS.

There were some elements of the HD game, such as the 24 hour Le Mans Race that we knew from the start just weren't going to work on DS, and there were also some things that we wanted to add from developing Create and Race.

The track editor was a much-praised feature in Race Driver: Create and Race. What additions and refinements have you made?

Shea: Rather than overhaul or completely redesign the Track Designer from Create and Race, we have added new features and more styles of circuit. You can now raise and lower pieces with a touch of the stylus, and the game will automatically create ramps to keep your track joined together.

There are five different styles of track you can unlock by playing the single player game including city, forest and mountain, and you can switch your track between these different styles instantly.

You can also set the lighting and time of day of your track, and design and draw your own adverts for the billboards that surround it.

Best of all you now have the option to share your custom tracks with your friends either wirelessly or by uploading and downloading them online.

Race Driver: GRID boasts an extensive feature list that most wouldn't expect from a portable title. Why do you feel that this functionality is warranted in a handheld title?

Shea: I think it's a mistake to think of handheld games as being cheaper or smaller versions of "proper console games". For one thing, they're not that much cheaper, and should still provide £30/$50 worth of entertainment and features.

It annoys me as a games consumer that many publishers seem to think it's okay to treat a portable title on DS, as if it were a mobile phone game, or a PSOne game.

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