There are two main types of racing games. You have your simulation racers like Gran Turismo that are very realistic in the cars, tracks, and handling. They take a lot of skill and patience to master, but in doing so, you will be rewarded with a very authentic driving game. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the arcade racers, such as: Burn Out, Fuel, and Need for Speed, where it is more about just having fun. Not that an arcade racer is automatically easy, but you don’t have to worry about fine tuning every little feature on your race car. Grid 2 is sitting on the middle of the spectrum, encompassing elements from both sim and arcade racers. This makes Grid 2 a mix of sorts, where it has simplistic driving and handling to make the game user friendly, but at the same time, the tracks, cars, and modifications to those cars carry the feel of a simulation. This is not a negative, but truly a positive, since Grid 2 offers you a very deep, yet simple experience that is overall rather enjoyable.
There is actually a small story to Grid 2. It’s nothing deep or spectacular, of course, but it simply gives you a reason for why you are racing. A big-wig wants to start a new racing league titled World Series Racing, or WSR for short. You are his star attraction that will draw in fans and make WSR possible. You travel across the world and compete in other driving leagues. By winning those other racing leagues, they will want to join the WSR. There is also a fan counter that goes up every time you win an event. It’s a nice little touch to see your character gaining popularity and seeing the internet go viral with your name. However, it’s all irrelevant to the actual game—it’s just an extra. Still, it’s a surprisingly lengthy career that will most likely keep your attention to the end.
The racing itself is superbly done. The racing controls are simple, but the game is still challenging. As you progress throughout the game, you acquire more cars which all have different stats and setups. You need to be familiar with what works best for certain events or you’ll be fighting the course more than the other racers. For example, a rear-wheel drive car corners differently than a front-wheel drive. One’s back is likely to kick out and send you into a tail-spin before slamming you into the wall. Get a four-wheel drive with gripping tires and you certainly have control, but you won’t be able to drift or slide at all. Finding the proper balance between cars and your racing skills is essential to getting that checked-flag.
The tracks aren’t bad, but they certainly aren’t the best you’ll ever see. They vary as you travel around the world, which is to be expected. The European races have small, skinny, narrow tracks that make taking corners with too much speed nearly impossible. You’ll be within inches of other cars for a majority of the race, which is different from the tracks in America that are longer and focus more on speed than cornering. Each location has its own style that matches real-world racing. The tracks aren’t incredibly diverse, and the real problem is you’ll play the same one so many times, it starts to get a little repetitive.
To battle against that repetitiveness, the game incorporates a multitude of events so you aren’t simply racing three times around a track over and over. Time attack, elimination, and drift are only three examples of other possible events you can compete in while playing Grid 2, and each requires its own skill set to come out on top. It keeps the game fresh, especially the LiveRoute system, which is a race where the track constantly changes. Each lap feels new and it really tests your skills, because there is no mini-map to help guide you. You need to be fully aware of all your surroundings and have your reflexes ready.
A very favorable feature included in Grid 2 is the ability to rewind whenever you want to. When you take a turn poorly and slam into the wall you can flashback to before the turn and try again. It sounds cheap, but it really isn’t. You can only do it five times in a race, and the point of it is to avoid restarting the race over for one little mistake. One bad turn can ruin an entire race, and it’s beyond frustrating to restart from the very beginning because one unlucky thing occurred. This allows you to keep racing so the game stays fast paced and you won’t become overly frustrated. Not that the game won’t frustrate you, though, because it certainly will.
With the fantastic gameplay aside, this game just looks beautiful. It shouldn’t even be necessary to state, but just for the sake of it: the graphics are incredible. The cars are well crafted to present a real cutting-edge look. There are times when the scenery is slightly dull, but other times it shines with some real charisma. The sun glimmers off the cars in utter realism among other elements that just bring the game to life even more, not to mention the car destruction which occurs from driving poorly and smashing into too many walls. What really melts away all the appeal and deep immersion is the lack of a cockpit view. It’s questionable on the developer’s part as to why they would remove such a standard feature in a racing game. It’s a small complaint, but to some gamers, this one missing element will ruin the entire experience.
The audio of Grid 2 is one of the best features of the entire game. Hearing the roaring of the engines as you speed down the track is more rewarding than you may originally believe. It brings an incredibly immersive experience to the game that really draws you in. The tires sound differently going over different types of tracks, and nothing is more satisfying than hearing your tires screech on a turn, then your engine roaring as your sling shot out of it getting back up to speed. The music that is in the game is nicely done, but truly the best part is listening to the beautiful orchestra of roaring engines.
There is also a multiplayer to take your skills online and show the world what you’re made of. All the modes are there, and it’s plenty of fun. It can be a little tough getting into an actual event, but once you do, it is a totally different feel than racing A.I. controlled cars in career. Sadly, any cars you earn throughout your single-player career will not transfer over. This means you have to start from scratch with a different progression system online. You level up and win money to spend on upgrades. It’s much deeper than offline and that makes it surprising that this system wasn’t implemented for the offline career. Online is definitely an entertaining experience and could suck up many hours of your life.
Grid 2’s unique mix of sim and arcade racing allows it to achieve a fairly enthralling racing experience. The simple driving and handling of an arcade racer makes the game easy for first time racers to pick it up. The simulation style tracks and cars will provide a real challenge to the more skilled racers out there. With a lengthy career containing multiple modes, online, and even splitscreen, Grid 2 gives you enough content to keep you playing for hours. It’s a solid racing game that will have you gripping the controller tightly while you lean your body into sharp turns, hoping it helps influence the car at all. Hey, whatever it takes to win.
This review is based on a review copy of the PS3 version of Grid 2 developed by Codemasters
- Fun Fast Racing
- Great visuals
- Tracks Feel Repetitive