Around five years ago Codemasters released the racing title Grid, despite flying under the radar it picked up quite the following and naturally Codemasters thought it was about time that gamers were graced with a sequel by way of Grid 2.
Grid 2, like so many other racing titles, puts you in the shoes of a rookie racer trying to climb the ranks of the street racing world and be the undeniable tarmac tyrant. With social media expanding by the day thanks to Twitttube, Facter and Youbook the guys at Codemasters made the logical move of basing your characters success on how many likes, shares and retweets received after winning (or losing) races. The bigger your fanbase is, the bigger your car collection becomes.
The plot begins after you’re headhunted by Patrick Callahan, before you know it your racing exploits are being featured on ESPN. Okay so perhaps a little unrealistic considering the nature of the sport.
Your selection of cars is pretty expansive; you begin with but a humble Ford Mustang before moving onto bigger and better things such as the BMW E30 Sport, Chevrolet Camaro SS, Ariel Atom 3 and McLaren F1 GT. The vehicles are split down into four tiers; T1 is where you begin made up of mostly hot hatchbacks, T2 are your contemporary roadsters, T3 gives you GT supremacy and T4 are your supercars. You can add custom paint jobs to your vehicles though this is a little bit limited with a just a selection of fifty or so body decals that whilst you can change their colour scheme leave little to the imagination. They should have taken a leaf out of Forza’s book and let you make signature designs, unique to you.
Once you hit the track you are given a plethora of locations to race in via a variety of modes, be it Elimination, Overtake Challenges, Time Attacks, General Racing and a few others thrown in for good measure. Granted none of these modes are exactly unique, despite this with such a large selection you’re never left doing the same thing for too long. Locations wise you’ll find yourself all over the world from Miamito Barcelona and whilst there are no recognisable tracks so to speak I think this is a good thing being a road racing title. A neat little feature is Grid 2’s dynamic track system which adds a whole new element to racing. Whereas before you could race, come last, but restart knowing the track so much better. Dynamic racing involves a constantly updated track taking you down different routes each and every-time, a stunning feature which I did enjoy despite the frustration of not knowing which corner was coming next.
As you find yourself thrown behind the wheel of one of these vehicles you will soon appreciate each car’s strengths and weaknesses, whilst you may be driving a car that can put up huge figures down a straight when you hit corners you’ll find it near impossible to pull them off cleanly. On the flipside if you’re say driving a VW Golf, which sticks to the tarmac like literal glue then you’ll be sacrificing speed on straights hoping instead to out-manoeuvre your foes on corners.
Overtaking can become a little laborious; the tracks themselves seem unusually thin. Whilst this can be excused in big races on mountain passes, even when hurtling down highways you have little space to slingshot your way around an opposing racer. This is but a minor niggle as once you have bounced past said opponent you can return to a game which has few flaws when the race begins.
As said above overtaking is difficult and at times disastrous. Do not be surprised when you eventually see a window to drive through, only for the car in front to shut it down smashing you into the barriers and sending you in an inescapable spin. All is not lost as a simple tap on your Y button and you get to step back in time. You can choose how far back (within reason) you wish to go before having another crack at it. There are five ‘rewinds’ per race so more than enough for even the most heavy-handed drivers.
When you do hit barriers or vehicles the damage is quite impressive which seems to be seen less and less with racing titles in this day and age. Your crashes can quite severely affect your ability to race. After a big crash in Barcelona my BMW E30’s front end was crushed on the right hand side, the result? My car wanted to turn right and when cornering on the left I had to over-compensate, if I was forced to turn right, well it wasn’t easy I’ll tell you that for nothing. A simple nudge can see your car do somersaults and end up crushing the chassis over your head, you can even have a complete wipe-out and your car will cease to operate (any rewinds left then that’s always a good time to use one). The damage aspect of the game has been crafted extremely well by Codemasters.
One major gripe you’ll have with this title which I found immediately upon entering my first race is that there is no driver’s view. The best you get is a view of the bonnet and if not that then a view from behind the car. A massive faux pas in many respects as it’s always nice to see how well they craft car interiors and naturally the experience of driving behind a visual wheel is far more exciting than that of any other camera angle.
Online the racing is again enjoyable thanks to the games dynamic-racing becoming available. Ever changing routes make the challenge of winning online all the more difficult. If you don’t wish to race you can still compete in leaderboards via the games Global Challenges. I do wonder why Codemasters didn’t make it possible for drivers to use cars that they had unlocked in the single player campaign online, alas despite this issue the game is still quite addictive once you start playing against human opponents.
Graphically the game is extremely well put together. Each vehicle looks extremely nice and added to that is the aforementioned damage system which Codemasters has pulled off to near perfection. Every town or city that you visit on your travels is instantly recognisable and again I find it hard to fault Grid 2 graphically speaking. One issue is still the cockpit view, whilst it’s not detrimental to the game graphically speaking, the only reason for this is because we have nothing to see. It beggars belief why they stopped short and failed to give us this view. Despite that if you’re looking for a game with visual impact then you’ll be pretty happy picking up Grid 2.
Grid 2 is a refreshing racing title all-in-all; whilst there is nothing unique about game modes or the games storyline, it more than makes up for it with its impressive visuals, awe-inspiring collisions and superb gameplay. It’s a very addictive title and being able to unlock a car every other race keeps you hooked to your console as you find yourself wanting the new Subaru, wanting the BMW E30, wanting the McLaren F1 GT. Certain cars may feel a little loose on the corners this for me makes the game all the more enjoyable, suddenly cornering is a much bigger challenge and I’m sure if you took to the streets in a Mustang you’d struggle making even the most basic of corners at 100mph. The dynamic-track system works impeccably well and the rewind addition gives you that small respite in an otherwise challenge racing title. It’s a great game that is surely one of the best racers available to console gamers right now.