GripShift Updated Hands-On

We get an updated look at SOE and Sidhe Interactive's unique driving game for the PSP.

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We got our first look at GripShift a little under two months ago at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The game is being developed by Sidhe Interactive and tailored for the PSP, and it mixes racing and puzzle elements with a pick-up-and-play style. We recently had the opportunity to try out an updated version of GripShift to see how development has been going since our last look at it.

GripShift offers a new spin on racing games for the PSP.
GripShift offers a new spin on racing games for the PSP.

The work-in-progress version SOE was showing gave us a look at the game's six playable characters. The cast is an eclectic assortment of faces that cover the archetypes you'd expect to see in a game like this. Sasse is a hot-pants-wearing brunette; Dante is an urban gent; Stacey is a leather-clad tough girl; Bud is a grungy blond dude; Tommy Battle is a tattooed tough guy; and Fly is a hoodie-wearing brotha.

The new playable content we checked out gave us an updated look at the minigames you'll be able to play in the single- and multiplayer modes. The five minigames were interesting variations on standard racing. One we got a look at is Snaker, which is a Tron-inspired race against opponents in a grid, complete with trails behind your vehicle. The guilty pleasure of the minigames, however, was Penguin Bowling. The simple game requires you to play through nine sets of icy bowling wherein you launch your car at a pack of stoic penguins in formation. The goofy game is surprisingly addictive and more than a little funny.

The control in the game is good, and the unique handling of the cars is easy to get a feel for. The key aspect to the action is the ability to control your vehicle when it's in the air. Positioning your car while it's airborne is essential for some of the crazy shortcuts you can take to get yourself the best time possible on a course.

We also got a look at the track editor, which is a robust tool that lets you create and test your own tracks. The coolest aspect of this feature is that not only can you make your own track and lay out the power-ups, but you can also set the time goals for your custom track. You'll then be able to share your track with friends and force them to test their skills against your crazy track-making abilities.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to race on floating platforms, here's your chance.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to race on floating platforms, here's your chance.

The visuals in the game are looking good. The detail is solid and crisp though fairly simple. The sense of speed while driving is good and has improved since we last saw it, although we'd still like the game to move a little faster. The audio is equally competent, with workable music and sound effects that are still being fine-tuned.

Based on this updated version of the game, we have to say we're looking forward to seeing more of GripShift. The game handles well, looks good, and has gameplay that's well rounded enough to hold you for as long or as short a time as you want to invest. The multiplayer mode and minigames are a nice touch and should help its appeal. GripShift is currently slated to ship this fall for the PSP. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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