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Grid 2 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Intense, gorgeous racing
  • Wide variety of competitions
  • Meaty offline and online modes
  • No cockpit view
  • No single-player car upgrades
  • Handling is initially jarring

The original Grid delighted racing fans and newcomers alike when it was introduced almost five years ago. Grid 2 does nothing to tarnish that reputation, sporting gorgeous visuals, captivating environments, scads of intensely powerful vehicles, and meaty offline and online campaigns. While some may take issue with several key design decisions--particularly the hardcore racing fans who prefer endless tinkering with cars or cinematic storylines--there’s no denying that Grid 2 is a slick racer with a lot to offer racing fans of all stripes.

From the moment you slide the disk into the console, you’re behind the wheel and on the track; no need to worry about extraneous content or a cutscene-heavy storyline getting in the way. A simple, streamlined narrative guides the single-player career mode as you work with an investor to create a World Series of Racing. To do so, you participate in dozens of events across the Unites States, Europe, and Asia. Doing well gains you fans, and as your popularity increases, larger events are unlocked that become an increasingly challenging series of races; while you start on city streets and back road courses, as your success increases so does the difficulty of locales and tracks like Red Bull Ring and Abu Dhabi. Grid 2 is focused like a laser beam on getting you on the track, and the simple menus make it easy to do just that.

"...Grid 2 is a slick racer with a lot to offer racing fans of all stripes."

The races themselves are wide and varied; multi-car sprints, time attacks, eliminators, and drift accumulators are just some of the options. Winning the main events along the way will open up the World Series, with side races letting you unlock additional rides, as well as an available-anytime test track for you to practice (or just have some fun without the pressure of competition). The locales all look spectacular, from redwood forests in California, to the Champs D’Elysses in Paris, or the gritty streets of Chicago--and many, many more. It’s clear that the development team has built upon its large foundation of previous titles to squeeze the maximum visual fidelity from the consoles. There isn’t a single track that looks anything short of fabulous.

It takes time--and a bit of practice--to get used to the rather jumpy handling of the vehicles. Grid 2 sits right in the middle of purely technical racers like Gran Turismo and full-on arcade games such as Burnout; with no adjustments available to the cars, you’re stuck with the setup and have to learn how to make it work for you. While the controls can feel a bit unwieldy at first, it doesn’t take longer than a few trips around several tracks to get the hang of them. What’s more, the turns tend to be rather forgiving, and you won't need expert handling to quickly brake, turn, and gun it to make it through a difficult corner. Thanks to the return of the "flashback" mechanic--the ability to rewind the action a bit several times per race--it doesn’t become a significant challenge to be victorious on standard difficulty until you’re well into the second major campaign. Multiple difficulty settings ensure you’ll find a comfortable level (even if it seems like the leader zooms way ahead at the start of some of the races).

"There isn’t a single track that looks anything short of fabulous."

It’s not all gold trophies and winner’s circles, though. Unlike its predecessor, there's no cockpit view in Grid 2. While the majority of racers eschew such a challenging in-game perspective, hardcore fans will take issue with this decision. Another curiosity is the inability to upgrade or adjust your cars as you collect them (although this feature is available in the separate online mode). Also, the single-player in-game currency is your total number of fans, which opens new races as your fanbase increases. That means there’s no shopping for cars with cash; you unlock them as you go with little choice as to what you want in your garage.

Speaking of the cars, there are more than 50, broken up into four tiers. As the campaigns unfold, you’re offered rides specific to the region, easing you in with lower-tiered vehicles to get a feel for them as well as the speed of the races. When you venture online, you can sometimes find yourself in a top-tier vehicle you may not know how to handle. It’s particularly jarring to go from driving a swift Volkswagen Golf to a hyper-charged McLaren--which is why it’s recommended for newcomers and casual racers to get pretty far in the single-player mode before heading online. The differences in cars are stark and wildly entertaining.

"...hardcore fans will take issue with [the absence of a cockpit view]."

Grid 2’s online mode is entirely separate from the offline one. In limited sessions, it's riotous--as with any online game, playing with friends and similarly-minded people virtually guarantees a good time. Cars are unlocked as you level up and can be purchased with cold, hard cash--a distinct difference from the single-player methodology. In addition, Global Challenges offer ways for you to compete asynchronously against your friends as well as pre-determined goals, allowing additional opportunities to gain valuable cash. RaceNet--Codemasters’ service that ties all Grid 2 competitors together--further powers your friendly rivalries to expand Grid 2’s appeal once you’ve completed the single-player game.

As a whole, Grid 2 is a slick, powerful racer that's the result of a clear vision of intense, streamlined competition. It takes few risks yet scratches many itches, offering a compelling experience to fans on all sides of the racing spectrum. While some will question a few design decisions, the overall package delivers on many levels. Put simply, Grid 2 deserves your attention.

This game was reviewed on Xbox 360.

More Info

Release date: May 28 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
May 31 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Racing
Developed by: Codemasters
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

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16 comments

  • Danqazmlp - June 3, 2013 2:16 p.m.

    Codies seem to be going away from what made their recent games great, being the driver. I LOVED the feeling of actually being a part of a team in the original Grid, Dirt 2 and F1 2010/11. However, they completely removed these aspects in their recent games of all these series'. They all just feel like completely separate arcade races now, with boring menus replacing garages and trailers. I was looking forward to this, but this review has convinced me not to buy.
  • Dirtracer91 - May 30, 2013 7:20 p.m.

    I personally prefer the original, unlike the first this is just a bunch of arcade races. Being in the racing industry i want to beable to relate the games and what i do. Why do I have to beat a certain time to acquire a car? In every other racing game you buy them and customize them to your liking. Just my opinion I'm not impressed and will probably trade it in for the original.
  • Leemundo - May 29, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    It does sound like a dumbed down version. Although I never race in cockpit view, I always appreciated it being there to view on the straights. No tuning seems an odd ommission from single player and will be missed. I also hate he idea of 'fans'' as currency - tell me one person who prefers Microsoft Points to actual currency. I liked the building a team option idea in Grid, I thought it was cool that your Team Mate could be right along side battling for the lead or that he may have been forced to retire if I accidentally collided with him. Looks like I'll give it a few weeks and pick it up after the inevitable price drop.
  • Moondoggie1157 - May 29, 2013 12:45 a.m.

    I was actually really looking forward to This... I know it may sound terrible, but the lack of cockpit view is a deal breaker. I just fucking can't control a vehicle in chase view, I suck so bad at it... and that's every game I have played, from GTA to Ace Combat, I just can't race or drive unless it's in first person. Ah well, I'll find another racer.
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 29, 2013 3:02 a.m.

    You don't have to play in chase cam. Bonnet cam is in. There just isn't a 'helmet cam' this time. You know, with fully rendered car interiors.
  • n00b - May 28, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    i thought justin would have reviewed this
  • StrayGator - May 28, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    he did, but pulled his review when he wasn't allowed to grant it a 6th star.
  • GrandTheftAuto - May 29, 2013 2:56 a.m.

    5 stars is the max?...
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 29, 2013 2:58 a.m.

    Funny :) Actually I too would have given it 4 stars. It's a great game but sadly not quite as great as I was expecting. Multiplayer is terrific fun, mind. Total carnage, but as long as you embrace that and get involved, it's like the Demolition Derby of old.
  • Sliet - May 31, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    So... I was playing an online race and one of the bots was called Justin Towell. I was really proud about you, until it came out in last place.
  • Sliet - May 31, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    Alright, this site keeps placing my comments wherever it feels like...
  • Sliet - May 29, 2013 2:31 a.m.

    Ye, I was also surprised that it wasn't published by Justin, but I guess that offers a fresh perspective (?). Nevertheless, some of the new features sound great, but most of the scrapped ones seem to take away a lot of the essence of the original game, to the point it looks like a downgrade. I for one, loved the feel and handling of the original game, this one seems to go too far into arcade, so while I'm positive it'll be fun, I might have preferred it the other way. Guess I'll find out in two days.
  • Hobogonigal - May 29, 2013 3:12 a.m.

    Literally the first thing that I thought when I saw the author of the article. Still a fair review though, although from Justin's preview I expected it to radiate pure uncontrollable fun. Oh Justin, you big fanboy you.
  • smasher4 - May 28, 2013 noon

    it is a waste to play without a cockpit view... chase view is ok for playing with a controller how can they say gamers would "love" to play a racing game with a wheel using chase view? it is useless :S i'll test this game myself then i probably go play f1 2012 or grid 1
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 29, 2013 3 a.m.

    You don't have to play in chase cam. There is a bumper cam on the front (low down), or bonnet cam like you're on the windshield.

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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