Racing simulators in the Gran Turismo and Forza vein pay a lot of attention to accuracy and precise driving experiences. Arcade titles such as the Need for Speed franchise and the Ridge Racer series on the other hand puts more emphasis on entertainment than on the simulation of real world racing physics. With Grid 2, Codemasters aims for a best of both worlds.
The sights and sounds of Grid 2
Graphically, Grid 2 does not punch in the same weight division as Forza Horizon or Gran Turismo 5 (review), but still manages to deliver cars and tracks that look amazing. We constantly found ourselves ogling some minor graphical detail with each passing lap. Whether it was the reflections of the scenery on the car’s bonnet, the sun’s rays penetrating the surrounding trees of the California track or the rubbish bags doing an aerial dance in the windy city of Chicago, Grid 2’s graphics looked great.
The only misstep is the lack of any interior car views, which detracts somewhat from the authentic nature of the racing experience. This is unfortunate, since it is the first person cockpit view that brings the most realistic sense of driving a race car across in titles like these.
For instance, a heavy crash against the left side of the vehicle may lead to the steering column being damaged, resulting in the car pulling to the left. This causes one to not only be concerned about battling one’s way to the front of the pack, but also racing cleanly so as to avoid detrimental collisions. Luckily, there is a rewind option, allowing you to correct mistakes by reversing the gameplay to the point before your crash.
In addition, there are a number of race types to master within Grid 2 including Elimination, in which the last-placed car is axed from the race after each lap, and Overtake, where players have to pass a fleet of vehicles without crashing or bumping into them to gain the most points by the end of the race.
Car variety not the spice of Grid 2’s gameplay life
However, this means that you will be well familiar with the handling and performance characteristics of each car in your garage, as opposed to a game like GT5 where players rarely employ any of the hundreds of vehicles at their disposal beyond the fastest ten for example.
Another point worth considering is that you can’t tinker with cars beyond making visual changes such as paint jobs, mags and liveries (logos, graphics and more). Those who love to customise their virtual rides to make them handle better should rather take a detour and wait for Gran Turismo 6’s release at the end of the year.
Variety is also lacking when it comes to the number of racetracks available in the game, with Codemasters attempting to redress this issue via the LiveRoutes feature. Within the WSR mode, tracks evolve as you drive on them, meaning the corners, and even the scenery surrounding a track, change on every lap. This helps keep the racing action interesting and players on their toes. However, simulation fans might be put off by this since it’s usually more pleasing to go around the same track and shave those precious seconds off their personal best.
Grid 2 looks, sounds and feels great. It manages that rare feat of appealing to both arcade race gamers and racing simulation players. Unfortunately it is let down by a lack of variety when it comes to cars and tracks, as well as a lack of car performance customisation and interior cabin view.
All this means that gamers who fork out R600 for their copy of Grid 2 will more than likely not see a fantastic return in terms of gameplay hours. After initially having fun racing across beautifully designed tracks and outpacing their friends during split screen or multiplayer races for a few weeks, the lack of variety in courses and cars will quickly eat away at the replayability of this title.
Although not class-leading, the graphics still look great.