Review – GRID Legends (Meta Quest 2)
The Quest 2 is doing a pretty good job at bringing VR gaming to a wider demographic, or at least it was, before Meta decided to raise its price for whatever reason. Its library is constantly getting new games, and not just “VR experiences”, from all kinds of genres. With that being said, one thing the system has failed to deliver was a library of racing titles. The PSVR, its now-defunct nemesis, had pretty good titles like Wipeout and Driveclub VR. The PSVR2 will have a VR update for Gran Turismo 7. PCVR has had titles like Assetto Corsa and some more hardware-demanding experiences for owners of industrial-sized rigs. Meanwhile, the Quest 2 has had nothing. This is why I was pretty excited for the release of a full-fledged port of GRID Legends for the system.
Sure, GRID Legends wasn’t a masterpiece of a racing game, and not even the best title in the franchise. But to see EA and Codemasters bother to come up with a beefy (content-wise) racing game for the portable VR system was enough to pique my curiosity. My last experience with a VR game published by EA was Star Wars: Squadrons, still one of my favorite VR games of all time, so I was actually expecting something good out of this port, especially when you consider that Codemasters themselves were behind this version. The final result ended up feeling like a wish from a monkey’s paw. Sure, it’s GRID Legends in its entirety on a VR system, but the sheer amount of setbacks and compromises seen in this particular port left a bitter taste in my mouth.
This is the best thing about this port in particular: it is not a compromised version of GRID Legends in terms of content. Everything is included, from the interesting-but-underwhelming story mode, to all additional careers and racing challenges. Online play is also included. Everything is featured in this port, to the point of its file size being borderline prohibitive for a VR headset with such a minuscule amount of storage (it clocks at a whopping 31GB). That means that there is a lot to do and enjoy with a headset glued to your face, if you were desperate for a racing game on the Quest 2. The main highlight of the console versions, the sound department, is largely untouched as well. The voice acting is decent, and the music is still great. The problems lie elsewhere.
I really like the Quest 2, but I know its hardware is quite limited. It features a system-on-a-chip, not unlike the hardware seen in some smartphones. This is probably why some of its main killer apps, both already out and previously announced, are VR versions of games from a few generations ago, such as Resident Evil 4 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – you gotta know what you can actually run on a system like that, as framerate drops are a death sentence for a machine that can easily make you vomit if things don’t run as smoothly as possible. To its credit, GRID Legends runs incredibly well on the system, but the amount of setbacks taken in order to achieve said performance was staggering.
Simply put, the Quest 2 version of GRID Legends looks like how I would imagine the hypothetical Switch port of the same game would look like. Between the sheer decrease in the quality of textures, nearly nonexistent post-processing effects, and an immersion-ruining resolution (again, Switch levels of low resolution), it’s hard to feel excited when driving one of the machines available in the game. It feels like a mobile port of the game, which was then ported to VR. Granted, the overall level of geometry is still somewhat solid, and so is the framerate. But at what cost? This barely resembles GRID Legends, or any PS4-era racing game for that matter.
Yes, it runs really well, and the controls are decent, but here’s the weird thing: this VR version of GRID Legends doesn’t use motion controls at all. It does not take advantage of any of the features present in the Quest 2 and its controllers. Even though you are sitting inside a car, and your virtual arms move whenever you steer, you do so by moving the left stick. You don’t even have the option to pretend you’re steering an invisible wheel, Mario Kart-style. You barely even have access to motion controls when exploring menus, and those are presented in a static manner, as if you were just playing the non-VR version of the game while using the visor.
Now, I do know that I’ve stated in the past about not every VR game actually needing a ton of immersion features in order to be enjoyable. I clearly remember stating that on my Zone of the Enders review. But I do feel like this are different in this particular case. GRID Legends does a terrible job at even making your brain and guts feel accustomed to their surroundings, as you barely feel like you’re inside a VR game at all. The overall lack of immersive features makes the game feel like you’re simply playing the never-released Switch port on a TV, with your face glued to the screen in a very unhealthy manner.
I like to see myself as someone who can withstand comfort issues when playing VR games, rarely feeling sick when playing a fast-paced shooter, and often shutting down settings like static camera controls in favor of a more realistic experience. That being said, I felt legitimately sick while playing GRID Legends on the Quest 2 at times. It all boils down to the game never being able to fool your eyes, brain, and stomach. You never truly feel like you’re inside a car, so it’s really easy to feel sick after a handful of races.
To Codemasters’ credit, it is the full version of GRID Legends, but now available in VR. It’s not a simple “VR experience” either: there’s a truckload of content in this game, making it one of the beefiest titles available on the Quest 2. However, the horrendous visuals, disappointing controls, and lack of immersion make this one a tough sell to all but the most die-hard VR enthusiasts, those who were eagerly waiting for a full-fledged racing sim on the system. It’s still the best racing game available on the Quest 2, but only due to the sheer lack of competition.
The Quest 2 version of GRID Legends looks like how I would imagine the hypothetical Switch port of the same game would look like. It’s really ugly. Thankfully, it runs well, to the detriment of my stomach.
It does not take advantage of any kind of motion controls whatsoever. There is little to no immersion in this VR port, even though it controls well. With that being said, it is incredibly nauseating, even for experienced VR users.
Pretty good music and voice acting. No complaints in this regard.
Fun Factor: 5.5
To Codemasters’ credit, it is the full version of GRID Legends, but now available in VR. Sadly, it’s ugly, it barely takes advantage of the medium’s immersion, and it makes you sick in a matter of minutes. It’s still the best racing game available on the Quest 2, but only by default.
Final Verdict: 6.0
GRID Legends is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC. VR version available on Quest 2.
Reviewed on Quest 2.