Grid 2 PC Review
Peter Donnell / 2 years ago
Codemasters have been falling behind in recent years, at least in my opinion and while I used to hold them in high regard for making some of the greatest racing games ever created I just can’t help but think that they’ve somewhat lost their touch. DiRT Showdown was one of the worst racing experiences around and while it was covered in gorgeous graphics it lacked depth from start to finish, it was simplistic and overly crammed with pop culture. The original GRID however was incredible, one of their crowning achievements and surely the 2nd one will be ever better, right?
Must like any semi realistic racing series GRID 2 is set across several famous locations that range from Paris to Hong Kong and Chicago and with it comes a multitude of racing disciplines such as Drift, Track and certain challenges style races such as Head to Head, Elimination, Overtake and Time Trial, so nothing really new there unfortunately. The only change you will find in tracks and events is something called “Live Routes” which effectively generates the track as you race around it.
I was a little (ok A LOT) sceptical of Live Routes, as you rip around the city tracks its as if the track is never-ending and the track generation is seamless throughout, it’s actual pretty cool, the main difference is that you’ve got a 5 minute time limit and no map to follow so you can be blasting around a fast corner only to realise you’ve landed on a hairpin too quickly. You’ve really got to keep your wits about you and it’s a great test of driving skill. The winner is determined by the driver who drove the furthest in the allotted time.
The who game takes place in something called World Series Racing, a new mixed event motor sport that you’re helping get off the ground. Gone is the focus on earning money and buying cars that you’ll often find in racing games, instead you have fans, you earn fans by performing well, winning races, completing challenges and promotional events etc. Win more fans and the event becomes more popular allowing you to do bigger and better things in increasingly better cars.
There are plenty of licensed cars in this game broken up into four tiers, ranging from classic American muscle such as the Ford Mustang Mk.1 1970 to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. The only downside is there around only 42 cars in the game. Not only are there fewer cars in this game but there are also fewer options than I would have liked too, as you cannot customise, upgrade or tune your car’s performance beyond changing the colour of the paint and the decals on the side, a real shame too as it would have added more depth to the racing experience.
Another thing gone from the game is the in-car camera angle, now Codemasters mentioned this months ago and said it was the only way they could bring bigger tracks and more fidelity to the Xbox and PS3 editions of the game as something had to give for the sake of in game performance, stating that only 8% of players used the feature. Unfortunately for me I am part of that 8% and the whole issue has left a bitter taste for me as it’s one of the things I look for in my racing game experience. I wouldn’t mind so much had the done a better job balancing the remaining camera angles.
I find the bumper one is a little too low, the bonnet one doesn’t roll with the car meaning you can’t “feel” or judge your over/understeer, the chase cam is too low and the other is too far! Lucky that PC gamers can mod this issue, but console gamers are loosing out here in my opinion, at least those looking for a more authentic racing experience.
That being said, this game is far from a simulation and while GRID (the original one) was quite an arcade style experience, it still offered some level of simulation that made it incredibly thrilling to play. GRID 2 features something called “TrueFeel” which aims to find a sweet spot of realism and accessibility, albeit it favours heavily on the accessibility side and the game is pretty easy to get to grips with, but at least it still provides a good challenge on the harder difficulty settings for those that like to be pushed a little harder.
In terms of graphics performance the game is an absolute gem, Codemasters really know how to put that extra coat of polish on a racing game and GRID 2 is no exception. Real time reflections, detailed lighting effects, smoke, a complex vehicle damage system and more really push this game to its visual limits. The car models look fantastic and the tracks look really nice too. Some of the real racing tracks look a little bland but that is pretty true of the real world locations, it just often looks more apparant in computer games. The city tracks really shine though and Paris looks especially pretty with the sun setting and light breaking through trees beside the track.
Overall it might sound like I’m somewhat unimpressed with how this game plays, but that’s not really true. I’m disappointed that the game didn’t reach my high expectations of it, given what I really wanted was the original GRID with better graphics, more cars to choose from and new tracks and events. The game does offer some really nice cars and while the handling is pretty user-friendly at the best of times the game is still plenty of fun and races are often thrilling to take part in and in some ways this game reminds me of more old school arcade racers. All the focus is gone from the car tuning, I would even go as far as saying the car you pick doesn’t matter either as they often feel quite similar in terms of handling with the only differences being grip, drift and speed. Yet I still maintain that the game is fun to play.
One standout feature of this game is content, while the cars and tracks maybe a little limited there are still plenty of events and there is plenty of progression to seek, but should you tire of the single player you will find an equally engrossing multiplayer aspect to get stuck into. Much like the main game you start the multiplayer from the bottom of the ranks and your single player car garage doesn’t carry over. You have to win your way to the good stuff by playing online and this effectively doubles the size of the game. Yet the best thing of all is local split screen gameplay on the PC edition, if you have your PC hooked up to your TV and two controllers you can play against a friend, as a big fan of couch co-op games myself, this is a very welcome feature.
If you are looking for a hardcore racing simulation, don’t bother, you will not find one here. If you’re a fan on GRID then there is not guarantee you’re going to like GRID 2, but on the other hand if you’re looking for a racer that has some fun races, gorgeous looking tracks, a fun and accessible handling system and some great multiplayer mechanics, then this is one of the best racers of recent years, it is also many times better a racer than DiRT, but still not as good as the original GRID in my opinion, which really was / is one of the best racers ever made.
- Stunning graphics
- Robust multiplayer
- Local split-screen
- Lacks the depth of the original GRID
- Tracks can be a little over repetitive
- More cars would be nice