Grip: Combat Racing review – unrefined tribute to cult racer Rollcage

Nov
03

Grip: Combat Racing review – unrefined tribute to cult racer Rollcage

It’s a marvel of modern video game economics that ‘spiritual successors’ have gone from game-forum daydreams to a viable cottage industry. Fuelled by crowdfunding and early access schemes and by an ageing gaming population with strong nostalgic yearnings, this industry is ready to honour any dormant title that still stirs fond memories, no matter how obscure. Rather sweetly, it also sometimes brings the games’ original creators back into game development after decades away.

That’s the case with Grip: Combat Racing, a straightforward tribute to – not to say reincarnation of – Rollcage. Rollcage was a 1999 futuristic combat racer that followed in Wipeout’s slipstream; it was published by Wipeout’s developer Psygnosis and also featured racing at blistering speeds on stark, industrial offworld tracks, using Mario Kart-inspired weapons and driven by a propulsive drum-and-bass soundtrack. In place of Wipeout’s sleek anti-gravity darts, Rollcage had chunky little tanks with enough downforce to drive on the walls and ceiling at speed, plus huge wheels that meant they could be flipped over and keep on driving. It was a less precise and more chaotic game than Wipeout; it had a good concept and could be a lot of fun, but there’s a reason it hasn’t lived as long in most people’s memories. It was already something of a cover act back then.

It had its dedicated fans, though. Among them was a home renovator called Chris Mallinson, who noticed on a Steam group that Robert Baker, a former programmer with Rollcage’s developer Attention to Detail, was still working to keep the game playable on modern PCs. As …

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