Grid 2 Review

Released in 2008, Race Driver: Grid was regarded by many as the best racing game of 2008 and with its sequel Grid 2 now hitting shelves, will Codemasters be able to claim pole position on the racetrack once again?

Gameplay
From the moment you start your first race, you will notice that the excellent car handling from Grid 2’s predecessor is still present and thus cars are once again a joy to control. The car handling manages to test your driving skills constantly without frustrating and pushing you away, as you conquer tracks with tricky corners that manage to keep you thinking as to whether you should slow down or drift around each one.

Another mainstay from the original Grid is the ability to rewind gameplay if you encounter any problems or mistakes. It still works rather well when it comes to playing single player as you have to manage your rewinds as best you can with only 5 permitted per event. Unfortunately the mechanic feels unfair whilst playing online due to players rewinding their cars right into the path of others, which results in constant unnecessary crashes (races where rewinds have been removed stand out as being far more enjoyable).

During your time with Grid 2, you will take part in a great variety of race types when playing both online and offline, including ‘Eliminator’, ‘Drift’, 'Checkpoint', ‘Time Attack’ and ‘Faceoff’ in addition to new modes ‘Overtake’ and ‘Touge’.

Time to drift
Overtake sees you having to race past a number of jeeps in order to gain points over your opponents; however any contact with the jeeps or track barriers will knock your point’s multiplier back to the start, resulting in a cautious yet hectic sprint that is genuinely enjoyable every time you play it.

Touge on the other hand is a one-sided event that suffers from a badly thought out idea. With the key to victory being to avoid contact with your opponent and gain a 5 second lead, the problem lies in when contact does occur. While you are disqualified if you smash into your opponent, if they happen to do the same thing to you then you end up receiving the same punishment, which will not only irritate players but will also result in avoidance of the event altogether.

The best new addition to Grid 2 is ‘LiveRoute’, a unique event that sees the track randomly alter in some way, keeping players on their feet for any potential changes that could upset their race. With no map available, LiveRoute races are intense, chaotic fun where complete concentration is needed at all times. Admittedly you may notice after a couple of laps that the track hasn't altered at all, but that doesn't stop LiveRoute being a great concept that manages to add an additional layer of unpredictability to races.

An unfortunate absence of a cockpit camera leaves the bonnet camera as the closest perspective to use. The problem here though is that when your car takes damage, your view can become completely blocked by loose car parts; a design error that is sure to displease many. Despite that, the bonnet camera is generally the smoothest in terms of driving with small gaps becoming a lot easier to pass through.

Another big disappointment is the amount of different cities and tracks available, which leaves a lot to be desired and could result in some players becoming tired of the same somewhat small selection of racetracks. While the addition of LiveRoute is the likely reason behind the number of tracks, it won't stop you wishing they had included more especially in regards to the USA tracks. Thankfully vehicles don't suffer from the same problem with 58 cars included in the game, ranging from Tier 1 cars such as the Ford Focus ST all the way to Tier 4 luxury cars including the Pagani Huayra. All in all, there's a very solid selection of cars that players will surely enjoy testing out when looking for a car that suits them best.

The custom event mode is a pleasing alternative if you are looking to up your skills on a certain track or race type, with a fair amount of customization allowed such as being able to include certain cars, have races set over a period of rounds and the amount of laps to undertake.

Online Gameplay
The online potion of the game works as a distinct section from single player complete with separate cars, levelling up, social rivals (allocated to you on a weekly basis), global challenges (which allow you to unlock new cars) and unlike single player, allows you to upgrade the cars that you purchase.

Online races are much more aggressive affairs when compared to racing against AI’s, which could frustrate those looking for a realistic racing experience yet at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter because online races are so intense and thrilling that you will completely forget that what you are experiencing is in no way realistic at all. It’s good fun and that is the most important thing.

Every race type from single player is available to play online and can be customized in the same manner as custom event mode. There really is a nice variety when it comes to the online play, though the removal of 'Demolition Derby' from the original Grid is a minor disappointment that would of added even more to the experience.

Graphics/ Sound 
Whether in mint condition or completely battered, all the cars in Grid 2 have been beautifully crafted to a point in which you can’t help but appreciate them every time you race. The visuals manage to do justice to their real car counterparts.

B...e...a....u...tiful
While not on the level of quality as the cars, the cities look good for the most part with the Dubai tracks standing out as the best, as you race through construction sites and around large skyscrapers whilst surrounded by desert. It’s a really terrific idea for a racetrack that I would like to see featured in future racing games.

Grid 2’s audio manages to hit most of the right notes, with cars sounding accurate from the moment you start revving your engine to the second you pass the finish line. The brutal thud and smash sounds when crashing really add to the spectacle of the insane collisions that occur.

The music for the most part suits the game’s aesthetic with the real highlight coming about during the latter stages of races, where the music’s tempo increases and manages to really deliver the intensity and excitement present at that moment in the race.

Design
The majority of your time with Grid 2 will be spent playing through ‘World Series Racing’ mode, where your goal is to build up your reputation on the racing circuit by impressing racing clubs and fans in competitions all over the world. Doing so will build interest in your plans to start up the World Series Racing League.

The start of the mode is very basic in which you learn about the different race types and what activities can be done to pull in more fans such as ‘Promo’ events. You also learn about ‘Vehicle Challenges’, which are time trial events that allow you to gain additional cars. These events do a good job breaking up the WSR seasons and while not mandatory, are worth doing just for the rewards on offer.

Speaking of WSR seasons, they come into effect once enough interest has been built up towards your racing league, which when done sees the mode change into the World Series Racing League itself as you try to win the WSR seasons you are a part of. It’s here when the mode really becomes exciting, as you begin to race in different events all over the world.

Upon completing a WSR season, ESPN video segments are shown talking about the rise of the racing league, which adds a nice enough touch along with adding some realism to the mode. And with around 150 or so races, you have a fair amount of play time with a mode that never overstays its welcome.

Final Verdict
Grid 2 is a must for those looking for an enjoyable racer that focuses on just that…racing. No cops, no shortcuts, no nitrous, just good old fashioned racing complete with excellent car handling, high quality visuals and a surprisingly enjoyable online component. You needn’t ask for more from a racing game.

Gameplay = 8/10
Graphics/Sound = 8/10
Design = 8.5/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 8/10
Had a chance to play the game? Have a different opinion to mine? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet me - @KingKicks