On Tuesday, Codemasters reintroduced the world to the GRID franchise. GRID 2's release was the first in the series since the original GRID dropped in 2008.
The newest version is available for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Steam.
The first GRID game was a legendary racing title, so the second version had a lot to live up to. The information leading up to Tuesday's release created some buzz, but with the game in hand, here is my take.
Graphics and Animation—8 out of 10
GRID 2 is a racing game, so cars are the main focus. You can see from these images, the vehicles are rendered nicely. The lighting makes everything look even better.
The artists involved did an outstanding job bringing the 3-D backgrounds to life, but overall the visuals are pretty much what you'd expect from a Codemasters' title.
The UK developer has already shown the ability to make awesome-looking racing titles. The Dirt, F-1 and even the original GRID are clear examples. GRID 2 pushes the visual envelope slightly, but not to the point of breaking new visual ground.
It would be unfair to expect more from this title, considering where we are with this generation of consoles. All things considered, this is another visually pleasing racer from the kings of the genre.
Gameplay and Fun Factor—9 out of 10
The best part about the original GRID was the handling, intense racing and car damage. Those elements have returned in the newest version.
Races are still pulse-pounding affairs with spectacular crashes and distinct handling. The latter is appropriately dictated by the car you're driving. The vehicles have just enough varying specs to create a simulation element.
The original GRID walked the line between simulation and arcade game well; the sequel picks up where its predecessor left off. This is still the most fun racing experience available.
Sound and Presentation—7 out of 10
Relatively distinct engine sounds and loud crashes are the highlight of the audio experience. But that stuff is really standard at this stage with racing video games.
Within the genre, it is sometimes hard to find fresh ways to present the straight-forward concept.
Gamers will have the voice of an engineer during races, but his input is erratic and easily ignored. It is rare —if not unprecedented—to see a racing game that finds a way to incorporate relevant audio.
As is the case here, within five to 10 sessions, you'll be ignoring almost any voice contributions from the game.
The flashy and attractive menus that fans of Codemasters' game are used to are back. They always add a little sizzle to the overall presentation, but this is a largely routine aspect of the game overall.
Considering the major concept involved with the single-player experience (more on that below), it would have been nice to see a little more creativity in the presentation.
Options and Modes—7.75 out of 10
The biggest addition to GRID 2 is the World Series of Racing. It is the circuit created in the game by fictional billionaire Patrick Callahan. The virtual tycoon is a fan of all things racing.
He has a plan to pit drivers from all arenas against each other in the ultimate competition. Your created character is charged with increasing interest by racing and winning in a plethora of events.
Everything from traditional racing, one-on-one face-offs and drifting competitions are included.
The variety keeps the gaming fresh, but the rather compelling plot doesn't receive much development. Aside from a few faceless voice-overs to draw you in, this really good idea doesn't pack a major punch.
A healthy amount of cinema screens would have been ideal.
When the concept was first revealed, it sounded like a perfect way to incorporate real sports racing elements while maintaining the arcade quality. That isn't exactly how the WSR functions, but it still excels as a vehicle to drive a deep racing experience.
The action is there, it's just that the setup is lacking a bit.
The online component for GRID 2 is another huge aspect of the game. RaceNet is an online-based ranking system and matchmaker that can be accessed via computer or interacted with on your gaming console.
The system tracks a gamer's performance in every event and online mode. It ranks your performances in various events and keeps track of how you stack up against friends and others in the GRID 2 community.
RaceNet also links you with online Rivals in a unique matchmaking component. Your rivals are randomly chosen from other gamers with a similar profile of accomplishments and experience. You're able to compete with them head-to-head in time-attack events, drifting and other racing competitions.
The best thing about this option is that the rivals are changed on a weekly basis to keep things fresh.
RaceNet connects your exploits on other Codemasters' games like F-1; so If you're a fan of other racing games in the Codemasters' lineup, RaceNet will serve as a barometer for your overall virtual racing talents.
That is sort of what I was hoping for from WSR, but maybe we'll get that in GRID 3.
Overall—8 out of 10
GRID 2 is a fun racing game, and that's the bottom line. There are a few things here and there I could nitpick about. However, none of them make this a game that I wouldn't recommend to a video game racing fan.
If you're looking for a racing title that's half simulation and half exciting arcade fun, GRID 2 is worth a look.
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