GRID 2 360 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
GRID 2 360
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
on
GRID 2 360 Review. As it is, GRID 2 is a more than worthy sequel to the much loved original; when compared to more recent entries such as Forza: Horizon certain mechanics can feel a little anachronistic but that’s part of the games overall charm
Rating:
4.5

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.5
Value 9.0
Developer: Code Masters
Rating: G
Review Date: June 2013
Reviewer:
Sean Warhurst

8.5


GRID 2 

In 2008 Codemasters gave us GRID, an underrated little game that  admirably straddled the line between arcade racer and simulation and first introduced the ‘rewind’ feature that’s now become commonplace; now, after five long years, Codemasters has returned to the well and finally released the long awaited follow up, the imaginatively titled GRID 2. Does this latest entry in the TOCA Touring Cars series have what it takes to break free and lead the pack?

The crux of the single player experience concerns building up a fan base for the fledgling World Series Racing league, the brainchild of tycoon Patrick Callahan, whose dream is to bring together racers from around the world to compete in a truly global league that races in multiple international locations.

This premise is really just an excuse to jam as many exotic locations into the game as possible and to cover a myriad of race structures, such as drift events, endurance races, circuit racing and more. The ‘story’ isn’t intrusive at all; aside from some quick cut-scenes and comments pertaining to the progress of the WSR, the only thing you’ll need to focus on is the racing itself.

Through participation in promotional and invitational events you’ll build the reputation of the WSR and gain new cars; this process differs from similar games in that you don’t get the opportunity to choose or purchase vehicles of your own volition, receiving appropriate vehicles depending on your performance in specific race modes.

Those who like to tinker underneath the virtual hood will be sorely disappointed by the absence of any modification options; victory instead hinges on astute selection of the most appropriate vehicle for the event you’re participating in. Personally the lack of modification options didn’t bother me in the slightest, as it allowed me to dive straight into the racing rather than meander around menus without any real idea of what I’m doing; those who thrive on the stat building aspect of racing simulations may take umbrage though.

The first thing you’ll notice about GRID 2 is the complete lack of driving assists, a conscious choice on Codemasters’ behalf that chucks you into the deep end from the moment you’re thrown behind the wheel of one of the many muscle cars that are predominant throughout the first few stages - Skill and persistent practice is the key to gaining pole position in GRID 2. Initially you’ll be barreling down the streets in mustangs and the like but after a few races the options open up and the vehicles on offer include the Nissan Silvia, Subaru BRZ and even a McLaren F1 GT, which handles as insanely as you’d imagine.

GRID 2 features a wide array of both real life tracks and constantly evolving “Live Routes” that change up the tracks with each lap. This dynamic track system is GRID 2’s major innovation; however it can serve to remove the joy of memorizing each and every turn and mastering the tracks and instead turn the races into a twitch reflex situation where you don’t know what’s coming up next. The international tracks, such as Paris and Japan, are the real standouts, with some of the American based tracks coming off as a tad bland, particularly throughout the first few hours where you’ll be revisiting them time and time again as you attempt to earn the respect of different racing clubs.

One major hurdle that GRID 2 faces is immediate engagement; for the first few hours of the game you can feel like you’re slogging it out, grinding races against a few clubs on only 3 evolving American tracks. Persevere though and you’ll soon open up a cornucopia of international courses and a myriad of different events and vehicles, revealing the true potential of the single player campaign.

Getting to grips with the handling can be a bit of a steep learning curve and more often than not you’ll be thankful for the return of the ‘rewind’ feature, as you’ll be constantly tapping the Y button to recover from a particularly nasty spin after being rear ended by the incredibly aggressive CPU opponents. Once again though, after pouring a couple of hours into the game, all of the initial issues you may have had with GRID 2’s touchy handling will dissipate as it all becomes second nature; it’s just getting through the first few hours that may deter players from continuing with the game, which would be a major shame, as once GRID 2 starts to really shine you’ll have to wear sunglasses whilst playing, it’s that dazzling. The handling straddles the line between arcade-like and realistic, maintaining a fine balance between the two that somehow works better than if they’d fallen solely on one side of the fence.

The lack of an interior cockpit view is a bit puzzling, as it’s now practically a prerequisite for racing games, but to be honest I’ve always felt more at home using the bumper cam, so personally this wasn’t an issue. The achievement list is as expected for racing game, with a nice selection of both online and offline achievements that reward skill as well as maintaining a steady trickle to add incentive to completing the campaign.

The multiplayer is strangely completely divorced from the single player campaign, with its own unique upgrade system, cars and progression structure. GRID 2 features weekly challenges that’ll be sure to appease leaderboard fanatics and features a decent, if slightly underwhelming, selection of modes that facilitate the kind of frenetic, bumper smashing chaos that is this genre’s bread and butter. With that being said, the multiplayer appears to be a bit of an afterthought, and the lack of integration with the single player mode is puzzling; it would have been brilliant if GRID 2 had allowed you to bring over some of the more exotic vehicles you’ve obtained and pit them against real life rivals, but alas this is not to be. GRID 2’s multiplayer is good enough but it’s not quite of the same caliber as the single player experience.

Graphics & Audio

GRID 2 may not have the budget of some of its competitors but Codemasters’ EGO engine more than competently handles the graphics. The locations are simply stunning and bursting with detail and the night races in particular look absolutely spectacular with the bloom lighting effects. Each locale has its own unique visual style and are easily identifiable and the game is littered with little touches like mist effects that serve to further the immersion. The cars themselves are equally as impressive and the dynamic damage system is handled exceptionally well. There are a few noticeable hiccups in the frame rate, especially when you careen violently into a major collision, but overall the presentation is absolutely first rate.

The sound design is equally as impressive, with the satisfyingly meaty roar of the engines making sweet love to your ears.

Final Thought

Although it takes a little time to really grab you by the cajones, once you’re fully invested in the world of GRID 2 you’ll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable and challenging racer. Often in racing games the challenge aspect is ramped up at the expense of true enjoyment but GRID 2 manages to really keep you on your toes without ever feeling cheap or underhanded. This can probably be attributed to the ‘rewind’ system, as without it the overly aggressive CPU opponents could easily derail a race with one decent nudge of your bumper, sending you to the back of the pack.

As it is, GRID 2 is a more than worthy sequel to the much loved original; when compared to more recent entries such as Forza: Horizon certain mechanics can feel a little anachronistic but that’s part of the games overall charm – It refuses to hold your hand but will reward you exponentially when you do well. The skittish handling and lack of assists may deter some racing fans but for those looking for a gorgeous racer with depth and a true challenge, GRID 2 is a tidy little gem that will provide countless hours of enjoyment.






 
 



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