GRID 2 Review

GRID 2 screenshot
GRID 2 screenshot

When it comes to racing games, there are two camps. There are the uber-serious car people, the types that buy steering wheels for their racing games and spend hours getting anal about the specs of their vehicle before each race like they’re a character from Fast and the Furious or something. And then there's your happy-go-lucky, bouncy types like myself, the types that would rather fling a red shell at a problem and drive wild and carefree in a magical sound shower.

Anyway, GRID 2 strikes a happy medium between gearhead nonsense and happy arcade lunacy. You can’t go around like the bastard lovechild of Captain Falcon and Officer Zed from Police Academy, but you won’t be trundling around like you’re driving Miss Daisy either.

There was no debate as to whether or not GRID 2 would be good. The real question was whether Codemasters would step it up and create something that absolutely everyone had to get, regardless of genre preferences. Have they? Probably not, but it’s still a belter.

The ace up the GRID series’ sleeve has always been the rewind feature that lets you go back a few hundred metres and try a different approach, like the Prince of Persia if he was a real ale supping, Top Gear watching pillock. It’s excellent, and begs the question as to why no other developer thought of doing this before Race Driver: Grid. How many people skip out of races and restart once they crash horribly at the first corner? Exactly. The rewind feature takes a lot of the frustration out of the equation.

GRID 2 screenshot

Then there’s the racing itself. At the start you will be bollocks, frankly. You’ll be cornering like late-era Marlon Brando in a Reliant Robin if his hands were made of plastic explosives and swear words. You’ll ricochet off the sides constantly, crashing and banging into all and sundry. This is when you realise you can’t play GRID like you would play Vanquish or something. Corners aren’t going to miraculously accommodate you when you rush at them and screech around hoping for the best. GRID 2 wants you to drive aggressively, but it also wants you to take care while you’re at it. After a few races and more than a few hits of the rewind button, things click. You get the hang of cornering and drifting, realise you’re not going to get penalised for occasionally putting on the brakes and fly on up the leader board.

The career mode has you starting off as some street racing bum driving around in the equivalent of a crapped out old Lada, but you’re thrust into the spotlight after a good performance. The aim is to gain fans and notoriety through winning races and pleasing your sponsors, even though these days all you need for a bit of notoriety and a following is to call someone a dickhead over Twitter. You can’t do that in the game. Shame that.

You choose your name (I called my driver Pubert because I’m having my fun and that’s all that matters) and you can choose another name for the in-game announcer chap to call you. This is one of thing that doesn’t work so well. Codemasters racers always seem to have a tendency to have in-game announcers that won’t leave you alone. It isn’t as annoying here as it was in Dirt 3, but we miss the racing games of yore when the only thing troubling your ears was a smooth midi jazz soundtrack.

The announcer here will pat you on the head if you’re doing well, so I heard lots of ‘Great driving Dan’ or, ‘You took that corner well’ and ‘You smell nice today Dan.’ Actually, imagine how much worse this’ll be when Xbox One comes around and the game watches you through Kinect, it’ll be telling you stuff like ‘You’re too old to have a CM Punk poster up on your wall Dan’ and ‘You should put some pants on Dan, mother is coming.’

GRID 2 screenshot

However, the meat of the game is fine, and this is a solid racer that feels weighty and very satisfying once you get through it without making a dent on your ever-increasing fleet of vehicles. There’s a nice sense of progression as you win ever more glamorous cars and race around even more exotic environs.

The flaws come when the game penalises you for cutting corners when you swear you haven’t, and it even forgets to penalise you when you actually do. If you have a collision, you always come off worse than your opponents, too. This is an easy way to up the challenge, but it’s frustrating when someone scrapes you and you go hurtling off track, whilst ramming full on into them does very little.

Multiplayer is fine too, and typically addictive, and spinning out and having people cackle at your misfortune is pretty funny. You’ll go back again and again though. GRID 2 has an accessibility to it that other more serious racers don’t.

It’s maybe playing things a bit safe, but GRID 2 is ultimately a likable, fun, challenging game with hours worth of content. If there’s a GRID 3 I hope they change the announcer to Brian Blessed or Jim Bowen though. Even Danny Dyer maybe.

Version Tested: Xbox 360

Spent about 9 hours going through the single player and got over 100,000 fans, which is more than I will ever get on Twitter in real life. Entered multiplayer races and got trashed.

8 / 10

  • Rewind feature is still brilliant
  • Good learning curve
  • Shut up, stupid announcer

Click above for enlarged GRID 2 Screenshots

4 Comments

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BrySkye's Avatar

BrySkye

A few thoughts and first impressions then, since I ultimately decided 4am wasn't the best time to be very coherent.

First and foremost, this isn't Gran Turismo or even Forza.
This is basically DiRT3 on roads, but simplified.
Some of the early races could even be Rally stages if the road wasn't quite so wide. That includes driving along mountain roads with a sheer drop on your left with gaps in the barriers.

Cars feel solid and heavy in that typical Codies way, but you'll have no problem putting them into DiRT style huge drifts where control can easily be regained.
The car damage engine is also there in full force and is nicely applied to all AI vehicles as well as your own, such as doors flying off.

One very important thing it's worth pointing out is that the game does not give you any options regarding driver aids.
In true mid-90's fashion, you have Automatic and Manual Gear boxes.
That's it.
No adjustable traction or stability control, etc.
The game does have different difficulty options, but these are only described as Very Easy, Easy, Medium, Hard and Very Hard.
These appear to only make changes to the AI.
ie the usual video game trait of how much they rubber band.
There is very little customisation at all to be honest. It's very 'as is'.
So this is very unlikely to satisfy anyone looking for an even remotely serious racing experience.

Initial progress is slow.
You'll start off with big American muscle cars (that 'crapped out Lada is a Ford Mustang Mach 1) and you'll be using these for quite a while.
A couple of Japanese drift cars like the Silvia are also added early on, but are fundamentally very similar to drive anyway.
Codies also continue their efforts from DiRT in gearing the game to the American market, with our player character in this carpg based in the US with his very American engineer.
The in-race interruptions don't seem to be as bad as Dan's review might suggest, generally only getting a couple of messages per race... but they do not really add anything to the experience.
If you're hoping for useful race information ala Codies F1 games, you're not really going to get that.
It's a bit more akin to the way Rob Smedley always encourages Felipe Massa over the team radio, but more excitable rather than soothing.

The game does not feature a currency system, so cars will be unlocked in a linear progression as you progress through the game or by winning challenge events.
The game does however feature an XP system, but it's not called that now.
Instead, it is essentially represented a the number of fans you've acquired.
This basically could have been a Kudos system ala MSR and PGR, where actions like setting fastest laps, clean races etc could have earned you extra fans, but alas, this is not the case. Your fanbase simple grows in disconcertingly well rounded numbers per event by winning.
You do get sponsorship challenges which, if completed, give a bonus to fan numbers though this doesn't really make a lot of sense compared to the original GRID were sponsors gave you bonus money -which is what sponsors do-, but I digress.
The game basically takes its cues from social media, with sequences showing your race on youtube and gaining likes, to people sending text messages and starting to mention you by name as your popularity grows.
Like DiRT3, Youtube support is built into the game, letting you record short clips and upload them directly to your YT account.
A nice touch on this is that as you progress through seasons, you'll get FMV (haven't said that in a while!) cutscenes with real people featuring the likes of the ESPN sports desk when you're in the US, talking about the growth of the WSR.
And yes, as you progress, you will gradually move to increasingly better facilities.
You move out of that sub-urban garage after the end of the first season.

The dynamic track function works really well and is not limited to online only. :P
It should be stressed that this type of race only applies to street racing and is as much about learning to adapt and react then it is about learning the track.
Even then, it's not a something you will encounter on all street races.
Rest assured, there are also proper circuits for you to learn and master which do not have this functionality.

Visually, the games a real treat.
Now bare in mind that I'm playing the PC version, so I'm getting the benefits of actual 1080p rendering, higher resolution textures etc at an average of 55fps with most settings on High and a couple on Ultra with 2xMSAA, so this aspect is going to be a bit different from the console version.
But nonetheless, little touches like small flocks of birds taking off from the grass verges or the helicopter(s) flying around racing tracks make the experience of circuit racing more vibrant and natural than anything Gran Turismo or Forza have done yet.
But you can do that when you have a target FPS of 30 instead of 60.

In regard to the PC version, it's also worth pointing out that the game had a pre-purchase promotion on Steam whereby if enough people pre-ordered, they would unlock additional content.
Those pre-purchases reached their final goal on around Monday and as a result, I got all of the day 1 DLC for free (Headstart pack, McLaren Racing Pack, GTR Racing pack and IndyCar pack).
These add new routes as well as cars. With the game itself only being £26.99 when pre-purchased, it's fair to say that I got a lot more value out of the game than if I bought a console version, so this will also be influencing my perceptions of it.
Posted 14:39 on 31 May 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

For me Showdown was excellent, but I always saw it as an offshoot of the series, not a direct sequel. It was like an alternate universe version.

I like both arcade and sim style racers, so I'll probably get this.
Posted 15:41 on 28 May 2013
BrySkye's Avatar

BrySkye@ munkee

I pre-purchased it on Steam last week, so I'll be able to say something about it in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Who needs sleep. :P

Quite looking forward to it actually.
Not just the different experience I'm expecting playing the game at something higher than 30fps but because I've taken a bit of a break from racing games.
Forza Horizon was the only one I bought last year, having skipped on the 2012 update to F1 and having no interest at all in DiRT Showdown.
Kind of my message to Codies that one, since Showdown seemed to be about everything that the Colin McRae series doesn't really need.

Anyway, yes, looking forward to this one. Should be very interesting with the large variety of racing classes such as Touring Cars, Indy Cars and GT3 for sure. Probably Le Mans prototypes in there too.
Posted 15:16 on 28 May 2013
munkee's Avatar

munkee

Bit of a weird one to review and your writing shows this when you veer off towards humour, rather than discuss the game. Honestly, I didn't mind that (You’re too old to have a CM Punk poster up on your wall Dan). This is GRID 2 and we should all know what we're getting by now.

Enjoyable read.
Is it like all the other Codemasters racing games? Yes. Then, I'll buy it :)
Posted 14:14 on 28 May 2013

Game Stats

GRID 2
8
Out of 10
GRID 2
  • Rewind feature is still brilliant
  • Good learning curve
  • Shut up, stupid announcer
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 31/05/2013
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 385
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