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GRID 2 Review

GRID 2 Review

Having not followed GRID 2 leading up to its release, the first thing that stood out to me on launching the game for the first time appeared as early as the title screen. The game's name is presented as "#GRID2". This may seem like a small detail, but it near enough sums up the overall philosophy of Codemaster's latest racer.

After impressing fans with a race in Chicago, you're flung into the world of professional motorsport, specifically World Series Racing. WSR is an international street-racing league, and brainchild of fictional billionaire Patrick Callahan. It's set to be the next sporting phenomenon (think UFC), but it's missing one thing: a superstar driver. This is where you come in. Your goal is to win races, gain fans, and work your way up the ranks to become the face of WSR.

grid 2

Your ascent to stardom is measured after every event, as your number of fans increases with each win. Cutscenes occasionally appear between events with footage of social networkers and texters discussing your increasing popularity. These interludes are well produced, and I was surprised to see my own name, which I'd set as my driver's name, pop up in what I first thought to be a pre-rendered cutscene. Menus display messages from trash-talking drivers. All these features contribute to making a career mode that is heavily focused on social networking.

Car handling finds a middle ground between arcade and simulation. Vehicles feel quite heavy to control, and you're usually required to slow down significantly before approaching a turn, but not quite to the snail's pace often asked of the corners in Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. The resulting controls, while functional, feel like a compromise; neither realistic enough to satisfy the hardcore simulator fans, nor accessible enough for casual racing fans.

The considered approach required for cornering means that you'll inevitably find yourself crashing, and the wrecks look pretty spectacular. Sparks fly as cars grind against walls, paint gets scratched, windscreen wipers fly off, bumpers perilously hang off the car's chassis. Things are made more difficult by the aggressive AI; opposing drivers won't hesitate to trade paint and attempt to knock you off course. It makes for some pretty chaotic races, and it can be quite frustrating for a rival to send you careening into a barrier at a pivotal point in the race. No matter how hard you try to drive cleanly, your fancy cars will usually come out of a race looking considerably worse for wear.

Thankfully, 'Flashback', the ability to rewind time after a crash, returns from GRID. It was a major innovation when it first appeared, and has since become a standard feature for many racing games. The main innovation this time around is a mode called LiveRoutes, which procedurally generates tracks as you drive them. This clever mechanic forces the player to drive more cautiously as the mini-map is removed and you never know what's going to be around the next bend. Unfortunately, LiveRoutes is rarely used in the career mode, and due to a shortage of tracks, you'll find yourself replaying many of the same tracks over and over.

A feature that hasn't made the transfer from GRID is the cockpit view. I love the level of immersion that comes with actually being in the driving seat, wrestling with the steering wheel while traveling at 140 mph. It's a surprising omission, since superb cockpit views have become a staple of Codemasters' racing titles. The feature is probably unused by the majority of players, but the fact that it's missing will likely put off many fans for whom (like myself) it's the only way to play.

GRID 2 includes all the usual race types: circuit races, point to point races, elimination, and time trials, as well as some more unusual events. There are Overtake races which reward the player with combos for passing cars without a collision, and in a throwback to retro games such as OutRun, Checkpoint races which pit the player against the clock, passing through checkpoints to get bonus time.

While it wasn't long before I grew tired of the repetitive career mode, GRID 2's multiplayer mode is great fun. Basic race types are much more interesting when you're racing against humans. The level of competition is increased with Codemaster's Racenet which matches you up with online Rivals based on past performances and sets Global Challenges to race in. Competing in events earns you XP and money. Money can be spent on upgrading your existing cars, or purchasing new cars that become available as you gain more XP. It's a tried and tested formula, and the addictiveness of the system ensures that users will be playing the game long after release.

You'll start off with pretty basic cars, but that doesn't mean you can't compete against the more expensive car classes. If matchmaking sets you up in an event with cars that you haven't yet unlocked GRID 2 will let you "borrow" a car for the occasion, however, your earnings in the race are halved. It's a nice touch, and it means you won't have to grind for hours before things start to get exciting, as is the case in so many multiplayer games.

Between events, you'll navigate GRID 2's slick UI. Menu items appear as white blocks projected on the walls of your current garage (you'll unlock more extravagant ones as the game progresses). It's a simple, effective design, but it also contributes to an overall lack of identity in GRID 2. It seems that Codemasters attempted to inject a bit of personality with the engineer who frequently chirps in with information, but hearing the repeated sound bytes quickly gets annoying.

The slick, minimalist approach to the menus is consistent through most of the presentation. Most of the game's menu songs are inoffensive ambient tracks, and music is almost nonexistent during races. With the exception of upbeat tracks that fade in during the climax of important races, you'll usually be racing to the intense sounds of a roaring engine, cheering fans and screeching tyres.

GRID 2's visuals are fantastic. The WSR will take you all over the world, from the winding Californian coast, to the sunny streets of Barcelona, to the steep hills of Tokyo. Environments are detailed and superbly lit. Car models are exquisitely rendered. It all looks great in motion, and races occasionally feature moments of stunning beauty.

A core philosophy of GRID was putting player in the middle of the action, making them feel every tense moment and emotion of a race, but GRID 2 rarely exhilarates. While it features some great visuals and an addictive multiplayer mode; the shortage of tracks, disappointing exclusion of a cockpit view and overall lack of personality result in a game that will probably satisfy fans of the original, but never manages to separate itself from the pack.

7.00/10 7

GRID 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Having not followed GRID 2 leading up to its release, the first thing that stood out to me on launching the game for the first time appeared as early as the title screen. The game's name is presented as "#GRID2". This may seem like a small detail, but it near enough sums up the overall philosophy of Codemaster's latest racer.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Matt Girdler

Matt Girdler

Staff Writer

When he's not hunched over a computer programming, Matt can be found hunched over a computer playing and writing about video games.

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COMMENTS

Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:40pm, 3rd April 2015

I really enjoy playing this with my Logitech G25. Only issue is, I haven't spent too much time on it because it takes all of about 3 minutes to plug the steering wheel in and that's just like.. forever.

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The Griddler
The Griddler - 11:40pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

I really enjoy playing this with my Logitech G25. Only issue is, I haven't spent too much time on it because it takes all of about 3 minutes to plug the steering wheel in and that's just like.. forever.

I don't have a steering wheel, but I can see that being pretty fun. It would probably add that bit of excitement to the gameplay that I felt it was missing.

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