Platform: PC//Xbox 360//PlayStation 3
Genre: Racing Platform Played: Xbox 360
There are two main types of racing game fans, simulation and arcade. Arcade racers provide an over-the-top racing experience, one that just wouldn’t realistically occur. While simulation is for the car enthusiast, providing an experience that is grounded within the confides of reality. GRID 2 ultimately satisfies both racing game fans, providing intense racing arcade racers will enjoy, with a focus on driving realistically to earn the chequered flag. Pulling off arcade style passes might be a key to success, but without driving with awareness of your surrounding this could ultimately send you into the wall. Being able to ride the line of both racing genres is something GRID 2 does significantly well, offering both types of racing fans thrilling racing experience.
GRID 2 introduces World Series Racing, a grass roots racing league created by car enthusiast David Callaghan. His dream is to turn this series into a big-time racing brand, incorporating the best drivers from around the world to form an all-star line-up, and you are his first big star. It’s a very simple concept that works extremely well to bring a common goal behind all your races throughout the single-player campaign. GRID 2’s narrative provides context behind your races throughout Europe, Japan and the United States, as you look to acquire the best racers around the world. This focus on story was something I felt lacked in many racing games, but the idea behind WSR is able to give players a feeling of constant progression.
This is presented through a fan counter that will increase after each race in the single player campaign. Completing sponsor based challenges, promo events and winning races against rival racing clubs will keep the tally rolling with more and more fans following the series. As I continued building the WSR through multiple seasons, seeing that fan counter increase constantly made each race have meaning. Between WSR seasons players are provided with ESPN cut scenes that describe the events of the WSR and are very well-done, though more would have been appreciated due to their great quality. These cut scenes and the ever-increasing fan tally provide a satisfying feeling, ultimately once you turn WSR into a world-wide spectacle after season 3. It is a great pay-off to see your series grow from a small league, into a global phenomenon.
World Series Racing will offer official round races once players have enough fans, racers will complete through a series of rounds hoping to score more points and eventually gain the win for that event. I appreciated the competition between each race, but found the overall competition lacked that competitive edge. Trying to gain a race win was always the goal, but even when you won that round, GRID 2 lacked the ability to showcase an overall leaderboard for the season. Nothing beats that feeling of an overall competition win, but after each season it seemed the overall series winner was never showcased.
Racing is a fast-paced thrill ride, that won’t hesitate to punish a reckless driver. This is where the simulation/arcade racing is well-balanced. Sure a well-timed drift at fast speeds may allow you to pass that driver, but if you don’t have the talent to hold the car around the turn you will lose out in the end. Codemasters rewind feature that is also seen in the F1 series returns, allowing players to rewind time if they make a fatal mistake. The feature is limited during each race, forcing players to increase their skills rather than relying on this mechanic.
During the single player campaign GRID 2 offers an array of racing types to keep the series fresh, drift challenges, 1-on-1 races, eliminator challenges which continue to knock out opponents in last position, time based challenges and more. These racing types keep the series fresh, appealing to those who want a change from your standard race. The problem is these racing types don’t hide the fact you are constantly racing on the same sections, of the same tracks, over and over again. The lack of track variety was definitely an issue, leaving me with the feeling I was constantly repeating the same race. This is quite painful if you dislike any of these tracks, since you will constantly be returning.
These tracks are still gorgeous in their own right. The attention to detail is quite astounding, from the breathtaking sun rays, fireworks flying into the sky during night races, planes soaring overhead during the day, fans dodging if you get to close to barriers and the attention to detail as you drive over each surface is noticed. The level of detail also carries over to the cars themselves, with every vehicle having its own unique handling. These small pieces of detail continued to impress, these simple additions did wonders to make the experience feel real.
GRID 2 provides some excellent sounding vehicles. Progressing through the multiple seasons and acquiring access to higher powered cars, provides vehicles with a greater engine grunt that truly satisfies the ears. Audio also raises the intensity during races, with the games musical track becoming louder and more intense during hectic moments. Earning a first place position on the last corner of a race, feels splendid when the audio intensifies the gravity of the situation.
The cars themselves may not compare to the visual quality of Forza or Gran Turismo, but they look great in their own right. GRID 2 allows players to focus on the visual car experience, with the ability to customize car liveries. The focus on car visuals takes away the players ability to edit their car specifications, this lack of car tuning may turn of some car enthusiasts looking to customize the perfect ride.
GRID 2 boasts an online network that is entirely connected through Racenet, an online social network allowing all your racing to be connected. Players can sign-up for a Racenet account through the game itself or online, yet the features never felt like they improved the experience. Racenet is a nice idea that could be optimised in the future. Though checking out your online experience points against friends is cool, it didn’t feel like it enhanced the experience.
GRID 2 offers an extensive online racing component for players, but also provides split screen racing for fans who would rather play with a friend at home. All the racing varieties found in the single player can also be found online, with players also able to tune their car specifications before entering competitive racing. Players can spend earned cash on improving handling, power and also customize their cars visual exterior. The options are still fairly limited, but it does offer players reasons to continue competing in races to upgrade their car to its full potential.
Multiplayer tries to make this one cohesive connected world, offering daily challenges on various circuits, rivals against random online players and new goals for players to achieve. However it felt like a shallow experience, it’s great to see they have determined my rival but apart from comparing our scores there wasn’t much else there. I love competing against friends and the single player constantly compared my racing times against my friends, giving me a connected experience. Yet comparing my scores against players I know nothing about, wasn’t satisfying. It is an interesting idea that may appeal to some, but if there was more social interactions between your rivals it would have provided a greater emphasis on the rival aspect.
GRID 2 is an elegant racer, walking the line between arcade and simulation racing providing excellent quality. There are a variety of intense racing options for those looking for a fun casual racer, but it also provides a great amount of depth that will satisfy any fan of simulation racing. The World Series Racing idea works brilliantly, you always feel like the series is progressing and you are at the forefront of this new racing movement. Simply seeing your fans increase after each race, gives you that constant feeling of achievement.
Multiplayer will provide fans with enough challenges, but doesn’t feel as enjoyable compared to the single player experience. Racing is exhilarating and the attention to detail is something that continues to impress me, the amount of love provided to make the tracks feel alive is something more racing titles should hope to accomplish in the future.
Fans of the GRID series will be very happy with the quality on offer with GRID 2, with many hours of intense racing action for all racing game fans alike.
+ Impressive attention to detail
+ World Series Racing ties single player together
+ Constant progression continuously rewards
+ True balance between simulation and arcade racers
– Multiplayer feels like a lonely experience
– Repetitive use of tracks
Overall Score: 8.2