On paper, GripShift sounds like it should be a great game. Puzzle platform driving action? By all means, bring it on! Alas, it's really a shame that the game wasn't able to live up to its promise.
GripShift isn't so much a racing game as it is a series of time trials over twisty courses suspended in midair. Ramps, jumps, loops, floating panels and more need to be navigated to reach the end of the road, and getting a gold, silver or bronze medal earns credits. Additionally, each track has a number of star icons on it, and snagging them all earns even more credits. Get enough and new courses, challenges, characters, mini-games, and other odds and ends become available for play.
It's a good amount of variety, too. Whipping around the stunt courses or just figuring out the best line of attack for the latest of dozens of levels should be a lot of fun, but it just doesn't work out. The controls never really come together, making it far too easy to go flying off the edge of the world. Endlessly repeating a level in the hope of figuring out the right speed to take a series of turns gets old fast, especially when the lack of a wall means restarting the course is mandatory after flying off the edge of the world.
Gravity is also very weak, and though this means lots of airtime off jumps, it can be kind of strange to take a loop at what feels like five miles an hour, carefully gathering up all the stars along the way. It's good from a gameplay perspective, but kind of bizarre to actually do.
Continuing in that vein is the amount of control the car has in the air. 90 degree midair turns are easy to execute, as is both braking and accelerating. At least midair turbo makes some kind of sense, seeing as blue flames are coming out of the tailpipe, but midair braking? As helpful as it can be in many situations, it never ends up feeling right.
It's not all bad, though. The courses are wild and show some fun design, the graphics looks sharp, the music can be turned off, and the track editor is pretty decent. If only GripShift was fun in any way, shape, or form -- we'd have a game worth playing. There's a lot of creativity on display here, and it would be great to have see that potential used for something worth the effort.