GRID 2 is rapidly nearing it's May 31st release date. As a big-time fan of the original GRID, and a long-time fan of Codemasters racing franchises in general, I relished the opportunity to have an early taste of GRID 2.
To start with, I was curious to see how far down the arcade road Codemasters were willing to go. Having originally launched their touring car racing titles with the highly acclaimed TOCA racing series, Codemasters - despite having advanced in leaps and bounds in technical finesse with their stunning damage models and amazing environments - have lost significant ground with the hardcore racing fraternity due to their tendency toward arcade handling.
On first glance, GRID 2 is very much living up the expectations set by its predecessor. From the user interface - in the shape of a living, breathing garage - to the voice acted manager and sponsors who keep you motivated, it all feels cosy and familiar.
You race your way through a number of events, testing your metal, proving your worth, before being offered sponsorship and new rides to take on bigger and better events. There’s really not much new here though, given that pretty much every Codemasters racing title in the last four to five years has adopted the exact same setup.
Though most of the events are familiar, such as drifting events and races, the Live Route events mix things up with a dynamically changing race track which keeps you on your toes as corners are shifted and the course takes unexpected turns.
In the short preview (we only had access to a small number of cars and even fewer tracks), it’s evident that Codemasters have made an impressive looking racer - one which takes gamers to real world cities like Dubai and Paris. One of the tracks I got to try out snaked along the coastline, with spectacular vistas and some hair-raising cliff faces.
The cars look great and are beautifully modelled after real-world counterparts. It’s difficult to say much over how broad the selection will be without having seen a more comprehensive build, but knowing Codemasters, we should be amply satisfied with the offerings in terms of tracks and vehicles.
Where GRID 2 fails to make a significant impression is in the handling. It just doesn’t feel much different to previous titles. What Codemasters dub ‘TrueFeel’ makes the handling feel intuitive and easy to get into, but it is unlikely to impress hardcore racers.
Really emphasising this point is the decision Codemasters have made to not bother with a cockpit camera - something unheard of - even with its arcade-focused predecessors. It’s a shame really, as GRID 2 could have been to touring car racing what F1 2012 is to Formula One. That said, there will no doubt be plenty of fun to be had with GRID 2, depending on what your tastes are.
I had a blast with the short time I had with GRID 2. Unfortunately, it seems that the game is clearly aimed straight at the arcade camp of gamers, and does little to set itself apart from other similar titles. In a world where racing games are a dime a dozen it will take an extra effort from Codemasters to make a compelling argument for why GRID 2 needs to be in our collections - until the full depth of content can be reviewed, of course.
GRID 2 is headed to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC at the end of the month.