GripShift Review

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Publisher: Sidhe Interactive
Developer: Sidhe Interactive

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PSP
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Prepare to drive and race through floating landscapes where just reaching the finish line is a wild challenge with high-flying tracks, nitro-powered boosts and puzzles to stretch the mind and challenge the reflexes.

Kyle Ackerman

Pixel for pixel, there are better driving games available than GripShift. But dollar for dollar, GripShift is easily your best choice. With plenty of races and a seemingly endless supply of puzzles for $10, GripShift will keep you busy for a long, long time.

GripShift started as one of the early PSP releases from Sony Online Entertainment, has since made its way onto the PlayStation 3 as a downloadable game, and is now available on Xbox Live Arcade. As a full price PSP game, GripShift was a dicey recommendation. For 800 points on Xbox Live Marketplace, GripShift is well worth the money.

Essentially, the GripShift developers came up with a driving and physics engine, and then decided to give players just about everything they could think of to do with that engine. That means there's 25 tracks of arcade-style racing, 120 puzzle levels and 20 deathmatch arenas. That's a lot of game. And every mode earns points that unlock more cars, decals and difficulty modes.

In terms of game time, there's more puzzle play than anything. Each level includes wild tracks, anchored to islands of ground floating in space, littered with stars, obstacles and power-ups. Every level offers an award for rapid completion, for collecting all the stars scattered around the level and for finding a hidden token. That means most levels require three separate paths to victory, and typically many more than three play-throughs to succeed. Because stars and shortcuts are often hidden off-road (or require spectacular jumps through the air) solving every goal at the gold level often requires spectacular and exciting leaps.

The many racing levels also have multiple goals. You can race for time (against opponents), or you can race to win while also collecting all the gold stars on a track. Other race variants, like time trials or championships spanning five races, make for a lot of variety. The racing is arcade-style, and reminiscent of other kart racers, right down to the weapons you can pick up and use to take out other racers. By arcade-style, I mean that you can accelerate or even use the handbrake to alter your course in mid air. There are online deathmatch and racing modes, but it can be hard to find an opponent, making these modes considerably less exciting.

The graphics don't have quite the same level of detail as a full-price retail release, but are more than interesting enough for a $10 title. The Xbox 360 release is a scaled-up version of the game originally released for the PSP, but there are stylized and cartoonish buildings, cacti and even glowing skulls that adorn the various levels. One of GripShift's draws is the driving soundtrack, that works well enough for a driving game, but drones after a long sitting.

GripShift is an Xbox Live Arcade game you should purchase, but it's far better played across a long period of time. This is the kind of game you can use to play a single puzzle level to de-stress, or to warm up your reflexes before starting another game.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 15, 2008 9:55 AM.

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