Grid 2 Review

18Jun

grid2pic4.jpg

Start your engines folk’s because Grid 2 is back and ready to smoke tyres and tear up the track thanks to Codemasters.  Following in the footsteps of its predecessor Race Driver: Grid, the sequel aims to improve on the original in many ways.  Grid 2 takes a handful of the worlds most recognised cars and puts them on the track for some ultimate racing.  So, the question that’s on the tip of everyone’s turbo charger is whether Grid 2 exceeds its predecessor or not?  Read on and find out.

.

Gameplay

Grid 2 begins with a fictional story centred on the global racing league called “World Series Racing (WSR)”.  You are the star, the new gun, the new driver in this World Series and it’s up to you to dominate this level of motorsport which will see you racing against a variety of clubs in various counties.  Is a story mode even needed?  Well, not really, but it’s done quite well and you feel as if you’re really moving up the ranks.  Codemasters have even created an ESPN branded TV show that reports on your progress and the WSR series after each season.  It adds another element which I liked and personally found this far more entertaining that a SMS message on screen saying congratulations on finishing a season, so kudos for thinking outside the square.

grid2pic1.jpg

Grid 2 and the WSR championship will see you competing in various racing disciplines.  First there is the traditional track racing which hosts some of the best purpose built racing circuits.  Also, next on the agenda is Point to point racing, which involves you shooting across a predetermined race track within a certain time limit.  Next, there is Touge and drifting modes, which I refer more to as hill climbs.  Finally there are Live Routes which essentially feel like track races in the city, except the actual race track changes  as you race around the circuit.  Very clever and always keeps you on your toes as it makes learning a tracks layout near impossible.

grid2pic2.jpg

In addition to the above race modes, there are other events that pop up within each season.  What I really like also is the season layout which presents all available events on one screen in a tiled fashion, allowing you freedom to undertake each challenge when you want, and not in a fixed order.  In addition, there are endurance challenges, overtaking challenges, test drives, timed laps and more.  It’s a great way to earn new vehicles and boost your fan count and popularity.

Next is the cars.  Grid 2 has a healthy selection of vehicles, ranging from a 3 series BMW to a beastly Nissan GTR, or perhaps something a little more exotic such as a Ferrari.  The cars in Grid 2 represent cars that contributed to motor racing history.  Don’t expect to see a Mercedes Smart Car or Focus here, it’s all about racing pedigree which you only get from cars such as Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaro’s.

With all racing games there is a fine line between a realistic simulation racer such as Forza 4 versus and all out arcade racer such as Ridge Racer series.  However there are many racers that have elements of both genres and can sit more closely to one side that the other.  Games like Project Gotham Racing is an example of a game that is in the middle.  However Grid 2 for me personally feels like its leaning more towards the arcade style of racer rather than the simulation side.  The lack of upgrades, vehicles and customisation of things such as your handling, set up, suspension etc. are just not there.  Sure there is a generic upgrade system that’s part of multiplayer, but its more of a stage 1, 2 & 3 style of upgrading rather than I’ll just upgrade my ECU, exhaust and intake for starters before I go all  out on some new injectors, fuel pump and rail plus Turbocharger.  In that respect, Grid 2 is an arcade racer.

grid2pic3.jpg

Next there is the car’s physical handling.  Grid 2 feels somewhat solid yet somewhat loose.  After 2 laps of racing my mind was made up.  Grid 2 handles like an arcade racer.  Approach a corner, hang out the tail with a massive power slide and pull her back.  This is fun when playing modes such as drift or touge, but not when circuit or track racing.  The cars felt unbalanced to me, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not approach a corner with any form of speed and expect to hug the racing line with full grip.  No, instead every time the car would insist on braking sideways into a drift.  This I found really annoying as the car’s handling lacked the realism I was searching for.  However, is this a problem?  For me yes, but for those after a great arcade style racer, it fits the bill perfectly.  I need to mention this point in particular as many fans of the racing genre put an entire games reputation down to one thing, handling.  So for simulation fans, be aware this game handles like an arcade racer.

On your mission to tame the car’s handling characteristics you’ll be pleased to note that the developers have brought back the flashback mode which allows you to rewind time and repeat a section of track you may have just messed up.  In the early stages, I was very heavily reliant on this feature till you get used to your ride so to speak.

grid2pic5.jpg

Grid 2 is full of vibrant tracks and exotic locations which help break up the scenery which by the way is gorgeous. You certainly have a great sense of speed also with Grid 2 as you really feel you’re doing 200 MPH rather than it appear as if you’re doing 50 MPH, so Codemasters have captured the essence of speed.  Finally, Codemasters have removed the cabin view from its vehicles as it was a mode that was rarely used.  Personally I never liked cabin view, however to some racing fans, this change may have been an issue.

.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is back with Grid 2 and certainly will keep you entertained for hours on end.  However, the difficulty can be a little hard to get used to so I advise you become familiar with the single player campaign first before embarking on the online modes.  The issue I also have with Online is other drivers can be in faster and more modified cars that you, leaving you in a unfair position, so my advice is to limit your races to fixed classes where all cars and modifications are the same, otherwise you will struggle.

.

Graphics & Sound

Visually Codemasters have delivered a gorgeous racing title filled with high definition graphics, detailed environments all running at a solid 60 frames per second.  The way the sun reflects off your bonnet and blinds you for a split second as you race up or down a beautiful hilly mountain side, you really appreciate the details Codemasters have put in here.  Heck, I even had a squirrel burn across the track while I was drifting sideways.

Finally, Codemasters has done an exceptional job with the audio.   From the sounds of the engine revving, to tyres squealing, Codemasters have put a great amount of effort in recreating a true racing environment.  Definitely a game that you would want to crank up the sound system in full Dolby Digital to appreciate the below of a V8 or the winding up of a Turbocharger.

.

Overall

Grid 2 was a game that I have very high expectations for after the original title hit the Xbox 360 near 5 years ago.  Grid 2 delivered more of the action you loved from the original, however it lost something in the process.  The cars handling for me was something I just could not come to grips with and it’s an issue for me as the original Grid actually felt better than Grid 2.  However, Grid 2 was designed more as an arcade racer than a full simulation racer so I must forgive it in that respect.  However, as a reviewer I must caution hard-core racers looking for a fix before Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6 are released that Grid 2 is not the answer.  For all other keen racers and gamers who just want to have fun racing, burning rubber and sliding your car all sorts of ways around a circuit, mountain or track, the Grid 2 is the game for you.  A solid title that’s definitely worth the pickup.

.

7.5 / 10