GRID 2 isn’t exactly what you’d call a surprise sequel. Though it passed me by, the 2008 original was subject to rave reviews and a shower of awards so it always seemed likely a follow-up would eventually come in tow. Roll on five years and GRID 2 finally passed the finish line, arriving on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Though not as notable as its predecessor it still made for a stellar racing experience despite a few minor flaws here and there.
Since the first GRID, Codemasters had turned their attention to the F1 franchise as well as the Dirt series, a particular favourite among readers here at TSA. Though still popular in their own right (bar the rather dull F1 Race Stars) GRID 2 delivers a bit of variation with unique flare and distinctive racing gameplay.
As before – or in most racing games for that matter – your objective is to compete in events around the world and build acclaim, unlocking new venues vehicles and other bonuses. One thing that particularly stood out was how modernised the out-of-race experience felt. As a career racer you’d watch as your online fanbase grew through online videos and other forms of social media. Another nice touch was allowing players to input their own names, which would then appear all over the world as your exploits became more famous. GRID 2’s menu design also did a great job in tying up this slick yet simple look Codies were aiming for.
I don’t like Gran Turismo. There, I said it. I don’t like Forza either. Or F1. In fact I actively try to avoid anything racing sim related, whether that be in video games or elsewhere. Where some dream of belting down open roads in a Lamborghini or Ferrari, I’m quite content taking my nan to the shops behind the wheel of my Nissan Micra, with its odd-coloured passenger door and missing radio.
Before I get mobbed by pitchfork-wielding petrolheads I must say that GRID 2 succeeded in captivating me. I still have little interest in the motors themselves but the Race Driver sequel has kept me ticking over for quite some time.
I suppose it comes down to the fact that it isn’t a pure racing sim. Compared to Forza and Gran Turismo it feels a little more arcade-y with a strong emphasis on drifting. GRID 2’s Flashback mechanic also widens the gap, allowing you to turn the clocks back if things start going tits up.
Perhaps what I like most is the array of game modes on offer. Alongside default races is an eliminator archetype as well as time trials, endurance courses, drift challenges and more, all of which can be played online.
One thing I failed to appreciate was the amount of repetition on show. I’m half way through the singleplayer career and fatigue is really starting to drag me down as I attempt to blitz through drawn-out race set lists. Codemasters may have nailed the racing gameplay but in terms of content GRID 2 can feel sloppy at times, as if the game is longer than it needs to be.
Online also has its problems. In truth I’ve gradually warmed towards it but there was a time I thought about packing in multiplayer all together. This was largely due to the inequality between racers; familiarity with courses and a spot of luck can be enough to win any race though GRID 2 also handed out unfair advantages.
Winning races online unlocks credits which can then be spent on better cars or upgrading the ones you have. Of course, the better your car, the better chances you have. It’s a natural progression path though one that begins to create a divide. Higher level drivers have the upper hand and can therefore keep winning over and over while getting more and more credits. Newbies, on the other hand, will be left desperately trying to finish, let alone grab first place. That is until there are eventually able to fork out on a shiny new ride.
GRID 2 surprised me in more ways than one and I’m glad I managed to overlook my preconceptions of racing sims. It’s slick, meaty, and more importantly, fun, bridging the gap between the schools of simulation and arcade.