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GRID 2 review

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GRID 2
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Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Superb graphics
  • Emphasis on racing
  • Variety of events

Cons

  • Slow start
  • Erratic difficulty level
  • Aggressive AI

GRID 2: The Second Coming?

Available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Xbox 360 and PS3 versions tested)

Race Driver: GRID was one of the two great under-appreciated racers of this console generation, the other being EA and Slightly Mad Studio’s Shift 2: Unleashed. Both games were built in the UK, sat in a sweet spot between proper racing sims and arcade racers and had a similar approach to racing; one that pushes the player to take risks and drive gutsy rather than hang back, race tactically and let your upgrades do the talking. To some extent, GRID 2 is the next step on in the same line, but where we’d hoped for a masterpiece, we’re left with a flawed gem. GRID 2 sparkles like a diamond once you’ve spent some real time on it, but for the first few hours all you’ll see will be the flaws.

GRID 2

GRID 2: No cockpit cam?

We’ll push past some of the more subjective grievances. Casual racers will lament that GRID 2 doesn’t offer any driving aids, and that the muscle cars that dominate the early stages aren’t exactly the easiest to drive without them. Serious racers will note the lack of any cockpit view, leaving you with just a low-slung bonnet-cam and bumper-cam. Everyone British will note that the series has adopted the US-focused tone that’s characterised recent entries in the DIRT series, with American voices for everything, early stages consisting entirely of US tracks and a tie-in with ESPN. Meanwhile, fans of European motorsports will note that the old real-world Motorsports focus of the original TOCA Race Driver series has shifted entirely to the kind of events you’d see in a Burnout or Need for Speed.

GRID 2: The global racing league

All of these complainants would be right, but let’s take GRID 2 on its own merits. The premise is that you’re a hot young racer on the US urban racing scene, who gets recruited by a rich motorsports tycoon who wants to get the world racing together in a new global motorsports league. Don’t worry: bar comments after each race and post-season analysis on ESPN, there’s no real storyline to follow. It’s all really a transparent justification for a developing structure of events, starting off with point-to-point and circuit races in Chicago, Miami and along the Californian coast, and growing to take in elimination events, drift events, time trials, endurance races and more across America, Europe and Asia.

GRID 2

GRID 2 is almost as notable for what it doesn’t have as what it does. There is no car upgrading, and you can’t even buy cars. Instead you earn fans through your racing, these unlock more events, and your gracious employer rewards you with a choice of new vehicles. One of these you can pick immediately, while the other can be won later on through vehicle challenges. GRID 2 is all about what happens on the track, not off it. It’s about wringing ever last drop of performance from the car you have, not transforming it into a surefire winner.

GRID 2: Getting off to a poor start

The problem is that, for the first couple of hours, GRID 2 just doesn’t seem to be much fun. You’re very limited in terms of tracks to race on, the cars all suffer from fiendishly skittish handling, and – at normal difficulty mode – your CPU-controlled rivals are so mindlessly aggressive that you’ll struggle to make much headway. You’ll be glad that GRID’s signature ‘flashback’ rewind feature has returned, because you’ll be using it as much to avoid the goon who keeps rear-ending you as you will to erase your own mistakes.

GRID 2

We’re also getting used to arcade racers that treat you to a smorgasbord. Here’s a whopping huge area in which to race, here’s a vast selection of desirable motors, here’s a wealth of interesting events, now just enjoy. In its early stages – and sometimes later on – GRID 2 feels like its holding back on all the good stuff. For the first few hours it’s less the next GRID and more the next GRIND.

GRID 2: Perseverance pays off

Yet it’s worth persisting. Finish off the first few events, open up the first World Racing Series season, and you’re on your way. Make it to Europe, and things really start to build, with new and more varied events in Paris, Barcelona and the Code d’Azur. More enjoyable and satisfying to drive cars arrive, and before you know it you’re having fun. GRID 2 still has periods where you’ll feel like you’re grinding away at the same old tracks in the same old cars, but once you’re past that first hump it feels more like a true successor to the original GRID. Make it to the terrifying downhill courses of Japan and it’s a hugely entertaining ride.

L4lefty

May 31, 2013, 9:24 am

I was excited about this game until I discovered there's no cockpit view, that's a deal breaker for me. A real shame as the original Grid was great fun.

Rus74

May 31, 2013, 10:50 am

Greatly enjoying the game and the multiplayer component is fun. No mention of the Liveroute aspect for the career where the track is made as you drive? The lack of cockpit view doesn't really faze me but I presume for folks who have Eyefinity setups it can be quite a bummer. Overall it is currently the best racer released in 2013 thus far, especially if racing with friends in an online party.

Stuppulsugarmoen

May 31, 2013, 11:19 am

Use hood-view. Get used to it. The lack of cockpit view shouldn't ruin the entire game for you.

Jeff

May 31, 2013, 12:43 pm

Bottom line, I think Grid 2 is good, but not nearly as good overall as Grid 1 is, even if you take them both side-by-side right now. Grid 2 wins out on graphics (but not by a massive amount), Grid wins out on pretty much everything else.

Jeff

May 31, 2013, 12:45 pm

He mentions that in the review.

Jeff

May 31, 2013, 12:46 pm

Some people enjoy racing games in cockpit view, and the lack of that option CAN ruin the game for them. Just because it is fine for you without that option doesn't mean it should be fine for everyone.

L4lefty

May 31, 2013, 3:19 pm

Whilst I appreciate your suggestion...I don't have to get used to it, that's the whole point in having choices. I can be disappointed it's been omitted, not buy the game and express said opinion.
You're right there Jeff, the fact they excluded the interior view is a shame because I did enjoy/prefer it, I know several people that feel the same.

John Shewbrook

June 1, 2013, 1:23 pm

Codemasters took the decision to drop the in car views because their behavior analysis of gamers who had bought Grid 1 revealed only 5% of them used this view. However, the volume of criticism that I've read over the last 6 months regarding Grid 2's lack of a cockpit view has been huge. Far more than you would expect from a group of people representing 5% of previous Grid owners.

The method of capturing the behavior data Codemasters used can't be as accurate as they think it is, as this one topic alone has dominated the development of the game ever since. They took a gamble and only time will tell when the sales figures are revealed whether that decision was the right one. I think they underestimated the amount of negative feedback and the strength of feelings it ended up generating.

Stuppulsugarmoen

June 1, 2013, 2:57 pm

I do ofc agree that the lack of cockpit view is a big kick in the nuts. It would've really made the game that little extra special. Oh and also if you would be able to buy cars whenever you wanted, and not just given a couple to choose from whenever the game shows them to you. Last but not least: My SRW-S1 steeringwheel is impossible to configure for this game. Good thing I got my XBox360 gamepad. Ok now I made the game sound really bad... But it's not! I swear! :D

L4lefty

June 1, 2013, 7:26 pm

I really wanted this game, don't get me wrong...Hence why I'm gutted about the [lack of] cockpit view.
I have the xbox wireless wheel (the old, half decent one) and I remember it wasn't as good with the original Grid as compared to say F1 or Forza. I could never get it feeling right despite endless tweaking.
I'm hoping they demo this game for xbox, I would certainly have a look.

Guest

June 1, 2013, 8:05 pm

Good news, there's a mod.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Not very polished, but it's there in the game - but disabled.

Stuppulsugarmoen

June 1, 2013, 8:06 pm

Good news, there's a mod. Look it up on youtube.

Not very polished, but it's there in the game - but disabled.

SpookyMunky

June 2, 2013, 2:52 am

Am I alone in having a completely opposite first impressions to the difficulty of grid 2 than this reviewer has had ?. Given my general awfulness at the first grid game I was fully expecting to have a really hard time in grid 2 (though still prepared to try and stick with losing race after race instead of giving up).. much to my surprise I found I was coming 1st in pretty much every race right through season one and into season 2.

It was suspiciously easy, I would love to say that I am a better driver now (hah!) but after rattling across the line yet again in first place after one particularly bad race I got the feeling there was a bit of mario kart type silliness going on: In that race I had slammed into a few corners at 100mph+ on the first lap and kept going with 2 blown front tires, which had a bit of an impact on my ability to steer, and my engine making slightly unhealthy noises limiting my top speed to somewhere in the 90mph range it was still relatively easy. Strangely it was like my damage had been applied to every other car since they could barely overtake me even as I trundled around the course making good use of the barriers on every corner to keep me on track for the remaining 3 or so laps.

Changing the difficulty to hard has helped me feel a bit less like I have an unfair advantage, though in reality it just seems to mean I come in 2nd place most races instead of 1st. Ho hum!, I shouldn't complain.. it is more fun than coming in last every race I guess hehe, must be hard for game developers to dumb down AI to the point that its fun even for useless drivers like me :)

Maybe the pc version is a different experience, but if anyone is finding this difficult at the start and feel the AIs are too aggressive like this reviewer..hmm, maybe you are driving too nicely ?. Much like the original grid game you can easily get into the top 3 or 4 (sometimes even 1st, lol) on the first couple of corners on a track by going down the inside of a corner - the opposite side of the road that everyone is slowing down to get a decent racing line into the corner - and then breaking a lot later than everyone else :).. Normally without other cars to help you would crash, but 99% of the time you can use the cars turning the corner to stop you going off road. With the right timing you should hardly damage your car since it is just a helpful kiss you are aiming for, enabling you to take the corner too hot and from the wrong line without suffering massive under steer or spinning out hehe. At least after starting a race like this you won't feel the other drivers AIs are unjustifiably aggressive ! :)

As for the score in this review... hmm.. personally I'd have marked it a bit higher, though from my experience with grid 1 I realise if you feel like the ai is destroying you in every race it isn't much fun. The lack of cockpit view I can only assume is due to the devs trying to get as much performance out of exactly the same console hardware the original grid was released on 5 years ago so it actually looks like the graphics have improved, lol. Leaving it out for the PC port I feel is a bit insane since it's the one platform where people have head tracking / monitor surround / even some VR headset devices coming out that actually might not suck, never mind the fact that a lot of PC gamers have enjoyed cockpit views since the birth of 3d racing - years before there were even dedicated 3d cards! :) . That being said, it would hardly be the first time a multi platform release has had a crippled PC version so that console gamers don't feel left out. Sadly looking at the specs of the xbox one and ps4 this is likely going to be something that we will be stuck with for the long haul :(.

SpookyMunky

June 2, 2013, 3:05 am

5% is not a small amount of people to be honest, how many copies do they plan on selling ?. For every 1mil copies sold, 5% would be 50,000 people that are upset.. if 5% out of that 50,000 decide to complain online, that'd be 2500 people badmouthing the game ;)

Call me crazy but I feel any game company in their right mind should be aiming for 0 disgruntled fans. What kind of idiot would think that alienating even 0.01% of the people that keep you in a job (not to mention all the people working for you) would be an acceptable thing.. lol.

John Shewbrook

June 2, 2013, 9:05 am

Good points. Although, the forum debates seemed to be heavily in favor of cockpit views with few (95% of grid 1 players don't forget) arguing against. Which is why I wondered about the accuracy of their analysis.

Another thing that came to mind - when you consider Grid 1 had cockpit views, you can't help but feel the sequel is diminished by dropping them entirely. Clearly, many potential customers expected them to be included. Sequels are supposed to be better in all aspects and Codemasters have had plenty of time since the previous version was released.

I think part of the problem is when a developer has to create a title for three different platforms instead of exclusively for one. Unless they outsourced some of the work, I don't know. If their team worked on all three, then all three versions may have been effected in terms of content and quality.

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