It’s been 5 years since the original GRID came out, I remember how much fun I had with it, especially watching replays of myself failing to judge a corner properly and sending my car into 5 barrel rolls and totalling it. We’ve been treated to many racing games during that time, and most of them have come from Codemasters with the Dirt and F1 series, GRID was a great game at the time, but after going back to it in recent weeks you can tell how dated it is. What can GRID 2 offer us? Let’s find out…
GRID 2 is split into two distinct modes, World Series Racing and Online. In World Series Racing (or career mode if you prefer) Patrick Callahan has a dream, he wants to bring the greatest racing drivers and engineers from all around the US, Europe and Asia together to create the World Series of Racing, but he also wants a hotshot driver to mix things up, that’s where you come in. The game starts with you in an American muscle car ready to tear up the streets of Chicago, after the very first race Callahan sees you are picking up fans via social media and invites you to drive in Indianapolis before inviting you to join him in the WSR.
Before this you need fans, and to get those you’ll need to race against prestigious racing leagues as well as taking part in sponsored events and invitationals. Performing well means you’ll attract more fans and sponsors and most importantly other drivers to take part in the WSR. The popularity of the WSR is evident through the rather cool looking ESPN SportsCentre videos; social media plays a big part too and gives you a different perspective of your popularity. Each season will you see you race across the world in some great locations and more importantly some awesome cars. You will also race in a variety of events that will test all sorts of driving styles.
As well as standard races there are drift events which is all about scoring points, elimination races which require you to stay ahead of you fellow racers and my favourite event overtake where you need to race past slow-moving trucks in the quickest time possible to build up the highest score. A mode I’ve never played before is Touge, where two cars race through narrow mountain roads and any collisions lead to an immediate disqualification, as I am the sort of racer that likes to hug walls when racing I found this quite tough! On top of that are the vehicle challenges and promo events that offer something different.
GRID 2 has introduced quite a cool idea, if you have ever played Split Second it will feel familiar but less dramatic. Live routes generate a dynamic layout while you are driving in your races, there is no mini-map to help you, it’s all about concentration, but at the same time a lot of fun as you never know what is coming up next.
If you are used to games like Forza Horizon you’ll feel very restricted playing GRID 2, there is no free roam to discover new events, in fact for the first part of the game you choose your events from a computer screen in a bog standard garage, as you progress you’ll be moved to a nicer location though. You also don’t get a huge amount of choice over which cars you get to drive, you can’t simply buy and upgrade vehicles, instead you win cars by completing events and completing milestones.
There are some awesome locations and they look superb. Whether you are speeding through the tight streets of Chicago at night or drifting your way around Miami you’ll be in for a treat. The attention to detail is brilliant, papers from the street fly up as you rush past, the mist coming in from the mountain as you wind your way around the narrow roads looks really impressive, oh yes and keep an eye out for squirrels! The different cars look great too, though due to my racing style they never stay in a pristine condition for too long, even when they were bashed they still looked impressive. The audio is excellent, you can really feel the power of the engines and again the attention to detail in the environments mean you can pick up some great sound bites along the way.
The original GRID fell down with its handling and I’m pleased to say that this isn’t a problem this time around; the cars feel connected to the road and are great for throwing around the different locations. Beginners will struggle at first but as time goes on you will get used to each car’s style and adapt appropriately. As the game progresses it gets quite tough and with no driver assists the only way to combat any troubles is to reduce the difficulty. If you want to succeed you’ll need to learn the course and the best driving lines and keep your car in the best condition possible or you’ll find yourself losing out quickly.
There is a ton of content to get through and I’m really enjoying my time in the career mode, but what about those of us who like to take on the rest of the world? Step up multiplayer…
In GRID 2’s online mode you’ll be able to get your hands on a better selection of cars, the more you race the more you earn to buy cars which can also be upgraded. A rather neat system monitors how you drive and matches you accordingly, bit of a dirty racer? Well you’ll spend lots of time with racers just like you. Backed up by an updated Racenet service you can now take on your pals in weekly challenges or take part in online races or playlists. I was really pleased to see that split screen racing is available too.
GRID 2 is an excellent racer, making massive improvements on the original. It’s by no means perfect, the difficulty spike can be a bit cruel and the AI isn’t always great but it’s a fun game that will keep any racing fan happy.