Grid Autosport on XBox Live

I played Grid Autosport (car racing game on the XBox 360) online for the first time last night.I hardly ever play games onlineor games at all, really. Earlier in the year I got into a pattern of staying up into the early hours to play a Formula One gamemainly because it was the only time I could guarantee exclusive use of the TV, and the only time I wouldn’t be huffed or glared at for not doing chores.

I signed into the online lobby, and looked for any kind of “start racing now” option. After fumbling through the menus (which I thought made no sense) for a few minutes, the TV said it was “looking for the best race"and plonked me down amid 15 other people who were already involved in a race. I sat and waited, and picked a free car to bide the timea BMW something or other.

A few moments later we were all transported to the grid of a track I had never seen before, and the lights turned green. The first corner was absolute carnagenot that it really affected me, because I hung back on purpose. Diving through the hail of body parts, I emerged in 9th placeand after a somewhat spirited blind charge through the field, ridiculous spin, and a second charge through the field, finished in 9th place. Out of 16.

I started wondering about the other carsI had plain paintwork, and no upgrades what-so-everessentially a showroom new BMW. Everybody else had custom paint, and obviously tuned cars. I still have no idea where you upgradeyour car for online racingThe next race took us to the Yas Marina F1 track. Finallythose hours of playing the F1 game were going to come into play. I had not driven the track in this game before, but at least I knew the track inside out. I was curious about how fast I might be, given that I had only played the F1 game against the machine (and had slowly graduated to turning the difficulty up quite a bit). The results were apparent immediately.

After starting on the grid in 4th place (I think the grids are random), I launched perfectly, hit the brakes perfectly, and was first into the first corner. Quite how I did that against tuned cars is a mystery. I then got the braking wrong into turn 4, and a car slipped pastI got him back after drafting him cleanly down the next straight and that was the last anybody saw of me. I drove 3 very clean laps, and edged away from the fieldI couldn’t believe it was so easy. Granted, they were fighting with each other, but my winning margin in the end was huge.

The next race was at the Spa F1 trackin the forests of Belgium. I was busy toiling around in 3rd place when the power cut out from my controller. You seein our house I share the XBox with three daughters, who never charge anything up. The sudden loss of power, and the arrival of 1am on the clock brought a sudden end to my online racing careerat least for the night.

My view of online racing games hasn’t really changed. During the first race, I spun because I was cynically taken out by somebody that couldn’t pass me through any other means. The games are still not clever enough to issue penalties for “professional fouls”. I was lucky to find a group of players that on the whole were playing the game properly thoughthe exchange of positions early in the race at Yas Marina was by-the-book. Our cars were within inches of each other through several corners, and yet we didn’t touch.

Tonight’s missionfind the battery charger, and make some coffee