GRID Autosport Drives Home to Linux/SteamOS

Wow. Haven’t booted to Windows in a long time. Had to run a bunch of updates that took almost a whole day, and then on top of that, the game wouldn’t even launch, so I had to have Steam verify the game cache. But now I’ve finally got a comparison between the ports.

Grid Autosport is finally here on Mac and Linux. It was one of the games listed in the SteamOS sale a while back. Initially slated for a summer release, it got pushed back to Fall, and by now it’s less than a few weeks before Winter. The port was made by Feral Interactive.

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It’s a racing game. Not exactly a simulator, but still realistic enough to bore me, unless, of course, we’re talking about the Elimination mode, which is pretty self-explanatory – the racer in last place gets eliminated from the race every twenty seconds. The cycle repeats until there’s one driver left. It creates a suspenseful atmosphere that always keeps you on your toes, always trying to look for ways to get in front of your rival, be it trying to brake less when making a turn, risking to miss it as you do so, or by hugging the curve, or by looking in your rear-view mirror and trying to stay in front of him so he can’t go around. I wish this game was more like bumper carts, and though I suppose you could ram your McLaren into your rival’s Subaru, forcing him to roll in the sands on the side of the course, it’ll damage your vehicle, meaning you might lose a bit of acceleration, or your car will drift a little to the right, forcing you to steer left every couple of seconds to stay straight. Man, I wish I could just plow through the pack when they all slow down around the corner. Heh. If you drift too much or too hard, you might pop one of your tires, and that will make driving a whole lot more difficult – steering becomes extremely rigid, forcing you to brake far early in advance. Acceleration also dramatically lowers.

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The game does, however, feature some beautiful-looking courses and is more family-friendly than a lot of other titles. Unlike it’s predecessor, GRID 2, these courses are more circuit-based, and the coach that guides you talks far less. But you can still consult his advice depending on what  direction you press on the D-Pad. It also features a split-screen mode so you can tag along with, say, your nephew (anyone got an idea why so many PC games strip this out?). One of my buddies has sunk over 500 hours in this game. It’s great that I’ll be able to race him now that there’s an actual racer for our platform, with cross-platform multiplayer as an added bonus. Also, cloud-saving support works between different operating systems, unlike a lot of other cross-platform titles. Nice.

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When you first launch the game, you will be presented with a prompt that allows you to change your in-game resolution and such. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to run the game if you’re using AMD or Intel integrated graphics. Looks like we won’t be able to play it on Smach Z, if that thing even becomes a reality. (Update 12/13/2015: actually, multiple tests have proven that this game can be run on AMD hardware.)

One thing I should note is that the Linux version froze on me fairly often, forcing me to use a cold reboot on my PC. Also, it could just be me, but Windows seems to handle this game twice, if not three times, faster, at least by using the in-game benchmarking tool. With it, I’ve recorded the results here. My hardware is as follows: i5-4670K, GTX 750 Ti, and 8 GB RAM. Both versions are using the Ultra graphics preset, multisampling off, at 1920×1080. (Ubuntu 15.10, NVIDIA driver 355.11, Windows 10, NVIDIA driver 359.06). Update 12/13/2015: After upgrading my graphics driver to 358.16, the performance was much better; See below for the combined results:

On 355.11, Looks like the average framerate is about twenty-four on Linux and sixty-four on Windows, however with the 358.16 driver, I got an average of forty-five frames per second on Linux. I also ran the benchmark with NVIDIA’s threaded optimizations command, but that made performance worse – twenty-five frames per second average. In-game it’s generally around forty-five frames per second. It seems it depends on how many objects there are – the more cars there are, the slower the framerate.

Good to see that I’ve got another game in my catalog rather than being depressed by all of these Linux delays. Fingers-crossed for Rocket League coming this month. I don’t even know about Project CARS anymore. Meantime, here’s hoping Feral will address those freezes, if anyone else has got ’em.

EDIT (21 Dec 2015 / Ekianjo): Feral contacted us about the freezes and had the following communication to make:

Where you’re talking about the freezes with the game, we think this is likely to be caused by your Linux kernel having a version of xpad that can cause system hangs or, as you report, stability issues in the 358.16 drivers. If you give our support guys a shout (support@feralinteractive.com) they can send you a patch that should disable FFB and avoid the hang (if it is the xpad crash).

With regards to the whole AMD and Intel support thing, we actually posted some information on Steam which outlines the reason why we don’t support AMD or Intel but also how people can get the game to work on either.

(Ekianjo) Thanks to Feral for offering additional support on their recent port. Make sure you get in touch with them if you have any trouble.

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13 Comments

  1. Ah, I’m excited to get back to my htpc to try this out. Just 2 days ago my roommates were fiddling with a laptop to get Grid 2 to play on the TV with the laptop sitting in front of the TV. It’ll be nice to finally play a racing game I like with split screen on the TV without a clunky computer sitting awkwardly in front of the TV.

  2. I got 34.83/41.47/56.99 on Ultra with the same build but i5-4460. I’m playing with my roommate split screen tomorrow so I hope Ultra or at least High will hold up well. I’m really happy with the performance of this considering how many poor ports we’ve gotten for other games.

      • That’s min/avg/max on ubuntu 15.04 with driver 352.63. I made sure to upgrade the driver before testing – I think mine might be older because I’m on 15.04. I seem to be getting pretty good performance considering I have both an older driver than both tested here and a cheaper CPU.

        • I see. By the way you can definitely move to 355 drivers if you install the edgers ppa for newer drivers, even on 15.04 (which is not that old!) 🙂

  3. I added a comment at the end of the article, coming directly from Feral, about how to deal with the crashes. If any of you is experiencing crashes feel free to get in touch with them since they are testing a fix.

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