Grid 2 (Xbox 360)
Codemasters’ second serving of motorsports is as good as the first one
- Slick presentation and impressive graphics
- Satisfying race progression in championship mode.
- No racing lines to assist with track navigation
- Races get particularly difficult later on, especially without racing aids.
Grid 2 offers an enjoyable mix of motorsports in a stylish package that does not disappoint. A few more driver-friendly features would help to make the driving experience more authentic.
Codemasters has been regularly updating its rally-themed Dirt series, but the developer has finally turned its attention to the Grid series. Originally released in 2008, Race Driver: Grid was a street racing title renowned for its cutting edge graphics and handling that struck a balance between arcade and simulation. Grid 2 follows on from its predecessor, with a single-player campaign that now focuses on the World Series of Racing. This is a new championship that aims to bring drivers together from around the world to compete in a series of races and challenges to decide who is the best racer.
The racing life
Both Grid and Dirt sported a stylish interface and menus, and Grid 2 does the same, combining a vehicle pit setting for the main menus and a computer UI for navigating race events. This presentation fits in well with the tournament feel of the game and it's easy to keep track of what races are completed. As a driving game, Grid 2 does not really feature a story or characters, but it has a narrative in the form of the player competing in and progressing through the World Series of Racing. As the player travels around the world competing in events, the aim is to gain more and more fans, which acts as a form of currency in the game.
Locations in the game span from Miami to Barcelona to Dubai, with motorsports such as muscle cars, hot hatches, and supercars represented in the game. Like its predecessor, Grid 2 is a nice looking game that pushes the current-generation hardware to its limits. The actual vehicles are not much more detailed than in the first game, but the racing locations are more vibrant and detailed than before. The environments, while still spectacular to look at, were a bit sterile in the first game. With Grid 2, Codemasters has used its skills from the Dirt sequels to make the real-world settings seem more authentic through attention to detail. The only downside to this is that the framerate occasionally drops during crowded corners or collisions.
A healthy balance
Grid 2 may look like a simulation title, but it's just as accessible as its predecessor. The game features demanding physics that give the cars a realistic feel when driving, though at the same time, the handling can be quite forgiving and does not punish you too much for being a bit reckless. This approach makes Grid 2 very easy to get into at the beginning, but the career mode quickly ramps up in difficulty and soon requires the player to navigate corners a bit more carefully. Purists will more likely want to stick to the Forza series of games for realism, while casual players will prefer straight-up racing titles such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted, but those looking for a bit more balance between the two will find Grid 2 enjoyable and easy to get into.
Players used to racing on driving lines will be disappointed at their lack of inclusion in Grid 2, as well as the absence of driving aids. As the game gets harder, the player has no choice but to improve without any outside help, which may make the latter portion of the game a slightly frustrating experience. Grid 2 also features a realistic collision model, which means that any careless driving or mistakes will be penalised with visible damage to the vehicle, which also affects its on-road performance. Fortunately, the game features a rewind features that can be used to replay any section of the track where a mistake has been made, helping to reduce any frustration.
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