Grid 2 Review
Burning rubber as it takes off is a racing title that creates an enjoyable blend between arcade and simulation; a game that excels in both its aesthetics and features, while delivering a solid racing experience – I give to you Grid 2.
RELEASE DATE: 30/05/2013
Grid 2 throws players into the deep-end. Before you know it, you’re behind the wheel of brutish muscle car, surrounded by the like, navigating the streets of down-town Chicago. But it is this that makes Grid 2 such a remarkable game; instead of beating around the bush, the game gets straight to the point; you’re here to race! And just as well, as its been 5 years since the original Grid graced our screens.
Grid 2‘s exciting career mode has gamers taking on a more prominent role. Instead of being a nobody, you’re a street racer with an incredible talent and you’ve been handpicked by one Patrick Callahan to be the ambassador for his dream racing league, World Series Racing. The game kicks off slowly as you’re tasked with beating the world’s racing clubs to win their participation in the WSR. But with every win, you earn a certain number of fans and unlock more events. Once the WSR is up and running, the game’s pace picks up and it’s you’re job is to be number one; to become WSR’s first champion.
One of the great thing’s about Grid 2 is it’s level of personalization – it makes you feel like you are a racer. For example, the in-game voice addresses you by your name, along with every cutscene that shows off your growing fan-base. You’d be forgiven for feeling like racing royalty. To make matters worse, your feelings of grandeur will grow, as every season finishes with ESPN discussing WSR’s growth – growth that you’ve made possible.
Also featured in the game is the wealth of sponsors available to you. But there’s a catch. Every sponsor has an objective that must be met throughout a season, be it winning an event, holding a drift for 300 metres, or winning a race with a 5 second lead. All of this adds to the game, and if you think about it, actually makes sense within the storyline.
The racing clubs you initially have to beat have their own style of race. The first one you’ll encounter is face-off, a somewhat mini-tournament of one-on-one races. Then there’s elimination which sees the last car removed from a race every time the counter expires, until just one car is left. Then we have Touge, a one-on-one race where the aim is to win with a 5 second lead. Careful though, ramming will have you disqualified and the fun part is, it’s best out of three. There’s the promo overtake events, drift comps, endurance races, time trials, and so much more. At this point, it probably goes without saying, but Grid 2 has a fair amount of variety. Enough to satisfy any racer’s hunger.
The abundance of variety doesn’t just stop at race-types, as gamers have a large lineup of cars to choose from as well. These are divided into four categories with Tier 1 consisting of your lower-end vehicles like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Nissan Silvia, to Tier 4 vehicles like the Koenigsegg Agera R and the McLaren F1. If you’re not a car aficionado, you will appreciate how Grid 2 displays vehicle stats; nice and simple. There’s Top Speed, Acceleration, Power, Weight, Drive-Type, and Traction. If you’re used to having more control over the types of modifications carried out on your car’s mechanics, then Grid 2 may not be the game you’re looking for.
Grid 2‘s take on handling is a little confused. It’s not quite arcade and not quite simulation. But amidst this confusion emerges a handling system that’s fun and brings the best of both worlds. Each car handles differently, and while some may be similar to others, it’s always better to hit the test track to familiarize yourself with how a car handles. The trick is knowing when to ease off and on the accelerator, especially when negotiating corners. And while it’s easy to throw your car into a corner, burning up rubber as you drift, it’s just as easy to miscalculate and crash, robbing you of your precious momentum.
If you’re anything like me, and you haven’t played a racing title in a while (blasphemy, I know), then you’ll be able to drive by feel; basically using the barriers to do the turning for you. But from season three onwards, when the high-tier cars start entering the game, you’ll really need to have some actual skill to progress. This is where sticking to the racing lines pays off. And when being trigger-happy doesn’t. Trying to drift in a high-tier car, holding down the accelerator, will only result in you eating your steering wheel, if you catch my drift. Pardon the pun.
Speaking of crashes, the consequences of one depends on your difficulty setting. You can opt for Visual Only which, as the name implies, only ruins the look of your car , or Full Damage which deals out mechanical damage as well. One thing to note, if you crash at ridiculously high speeds–enough to total the car–instead of being placed back onto the tarmac, you’ll lose the race entirely.
Don’t fret though, thankfully Grid 2 features Flashback, a rewind feature that literally lets you rewind your race back to an earlier point, say before a crash. With each race, you only get a maximum of five of these flashbacks, meaning players will have to use these sparingly and tactfully. The last thing you want is to lose a race because you ran out of flashbacks. Trust me.
Grid 2‘s tracks are also very varied; be it the 90 degree turns of down-town Chicago, the uneven surfaces of the wide, multi-lane roads of Paris, or the rough mountain-side driving of many worldly locations. One of the new features this game offers, is its implementation of “LiveRoutes” – a system that dynamically changes the course of a race track on the fly, keeping players on their toes. It’s brilliant! The game’s aesthetics and audio are impeccable as well, namely the lighting. The only quarrel some may find with the engine sounds is the lack of low end, but Grid 2 makes up for it with its subtleties; the way the engine roars as you pass through a tunnel. That kind of stuff. Another thing to take note of is the lack of a cockpit view which Codemasters explained was a move to free up time and rendering power, allowing the visuals to be pristine. Not a big deal.
The multiplayer feature is engulfing. Not only is it completely separate from the single-player career mode but it allows players to level up. How? With every race won, players are awarded with experience points, and cash that can be used to purchase new cars, upgrade current ones, and customize liveries. One thing’s for sure, playing against people is definitely more enjoyable than playing against A.I. Maybe it’s because of the genuine emotion that humans display when you ram ‘em out of first place, who knows? Outside of this, players can also level-up by taking part in solo Global Challenges for some weekly experience and to see how they stack up against their friends.
All in all, Grid 2 is the epitome of a fun, experience-driven racer. Its aesthetics, its beautiful marriage of arcade and simulation, the human touch of its personalization features, the way LiveRoutes keeps you focused, the variety, the detail, the experience; it’s fast, frantic, and filled to the rim with fun. While diehard-sim fans may disapprove, especially with the lack of a cockpit view, Grid 2 should manage to please just about everyone else.