GRID 2 the long awaited sequel to the GRID game that released 5 years ago has finally arrived to our PCs and consoles in a big way this year. Codemasters had a big job to try and match the amazing game that was the original GRID and they have done their best, adding in a lot of new features, improvements and changes.
The biggest notable change with the game is the fact that there is no cockpit view at all in GRID 2, this has been known for a long time now and a lot of people were in a massive uproar about it when it was announced that they would be removing it because only "5% of the players used it" and that they were going to use the extra space to "improve and expand the game", probably not the exact words but they aren't too far off either.
Initial impressions of GRID 2 are good, the game looks pretty and there is plenty to keep you entertained through out the game and I've not even had a chance to touch on the multiplayer side of things yet.
There isn't much of a story here but as usual with the GRID games, they have tried to incorporate a story like they did with the older TOCA Touring Car games back in the day.
The main story in GRID 2 is that Patrick Callahan wants to create a "World Series of Racing (WSR)," and it is your job to bring it to life. You will travel the globe taking on various different clubs which have their own specialities such as drifting, togue, racing, point to point, face-off and more. You go and race with them for a season, competing in their championships and hopefully winning them. If you do well enough they'll come over to the WSR with you and expand the championship. Without giving too much away, Patrick basically wants to expand the WSR across the entire world with whatever clubs and disciplines he can convince to come over to the WSR.
I'm not entirely sure if I would really call it a story myself, I'm not sure what to call it to be honest but at least it gives you something to aim for as you progress through your GRID 2 career.
This is a massive factor for GRID 2 and will decide if it makes or breaks the game, those of you that played GRID will know that the gameplay, handling and physics were great in that game and turning off the driving aids changed all that as well.
The developers have said that GRID 2 has no driving aids at all, and I kind of agree with them but it doesn't feel like the driver aid-less GRID that we are used to. Yes, there is no traction control or ABS but the way the car brakes and turns just feels very odd and I don't think the game can make its mind up what it wants to do with it. There is no real different between a Ford Mustang and a BAC Mono, basically if you just power slide through the corners at a ridiculous speed the car will stick to the road and you can power on through the track like that, I was hoping for more variety between the cars but so far there doesn't seem to be any at all.
I have played every single type of event by now and there are some good events in there like the checkpoint races, standard races, face-off and togue events, but then we get to the drift events. Drifting was a popular event in the original GRID and it just feels very strange in this game. In GRID 2 you are able to drift so easily just by dabbing the brakes before you turn into a corner but the drift feels more like a power slide and compared to the original game it is very unpredictable at times to try and hold onto it. The drift mode alone has taken a massive hit as well, it's no longer a two-three lap run around a track, it’s a 40-60 second downhill sprint and you really don't get time to do anything much, probably why it is so easy to score big points in this game compared to the original.
Now the next thing is the AI, as this is a racing game this is an important thing to get right but once again, GRID 2 AI isn't all that amazing. It is unpredictable and sometimes they are very slow in certain parts of the track and crazy fast in other parts. The difficulty level doesn't seem to have a very good curve either, some tracks you will win easily and on other tracks the leader will shoot off down the road to a point where you can't or struggle to catch them before the race is over.
Coming back to the unpredictable point, you want to be able to follow the AI around and try and learn a few braking points and the best places to turn, but it doesn't seem very consistent for the AI and it makes it hard for you to follow them around the track, you end up running into the back of them a lot of the time. They also seem to give no fucks when it comes to you occupying a space on the track, they will come barging through no matter what you're doing.
Replays are something that a lot of people like watching at the end of the race and of course GRID 2 has replays, the problem is however that they are a bit crap to say the least. Most of the time they are focused on the bumper cam instead of the cinematic external shots and it ruins a lot of replays that you would want to have seen from a great view instead of the bumper cam, something that needs some work on.
Lastly we're going to take a quick look at the circuits available in the game, and there seems to be a lot, some of them are multiple variants of one track however but there is certainly plenty for you to go at. They have some fantasy tracks around Chicago, Japan, Hong Kong, Cote D'Azur, United Arab Emirates and Barcelona to name a few but they've also got some real-life tracks in the game as well. These range from the A1 Ring in Austria to the Algarve in Portugal, Yas Marina in the United Arab Emirates, Indy Motor Speedway in America and Brands Hatch in the UK. All of the tracks in the game are fun to drive and the real-life tracks have got a great resemblance to them, it's great being able to drive around places like Brands Hatch and the A1 Ring again and every time I'm on the A1 Ring I can't help but feel Codemasters should make a Formula 1 '96-2001 game, but that’s for another time.
Presentation is something that Codemasters excel massively in when it comes to their games and GRID 2 is no exception. Ever since the very first previews it has looked amazing and has only got better as time has gone on. The game is very well optimized on the PC and my graphics card which is about 2 years old now can still run on the game on Ultra at 30FPS, but I stuck to High to get the most out of the frame rate that I could. For the first time in a long time for a triple A title, they haven't washed out the colours and it just looks amazing, really impressed with how it looks. The cars, environments and crowds all look stunning and it really comes to life at night with all the lights shining and reflecting off everything, you can get some really nice screenshots.
The sounds in the game are pretty damn good as well, get a good pair of headphones and you can hear every engine notes and various different sounds as you whiz past barriers and along the track, the sound is also amazing as you go through tunnels, you can hear the engine echoing and if your race engineer talks to you through the radio you can tell you're in a tunnel as it isn't as crisp as it is when you're out in the open.
GRID 2 had a lot to live up to as the original game was so good and Codemasters have made a good effort at the game, adding in new features, making the game look amazing and providing us with plenty of new race modes and ideas. The problem is however that if you compare the game to the original GRID game, which you really have to do, its not as amazing as you think it should be really, it just doesn't stand up to how awesome GRID was. On the other hand if you treat this as a completely stand alone game or if you haven't player the original game, then this is an amazing game.
It is difficult to give this a score really but if I was to compare it to the original game, which I'm going to do, it just didn't live up to what I was expecting from the sequal to GRID, a good attempt by Codemasters but from the moment I played the game I felt like it lacked something compared to the original, a shame, really.