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GRID 2: We've played it. We're calling it - Racing games will never be the same again

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The street racing demo is very much like GRID's San Francisco events, actually. The racing is close and hard-fought, the constant rubbing with opponents yields bits of broken bodywork which can get stuck under your car, making one heck of a noise as they rattle underneath the car's chassis and having a noticeable effect on handling. Damage will affect handling in the final game, but for our demo that was turned off – the team didn't want people breaking their cars and then complaining the game's handling is off.

Above: We played the PC version, but it's been built for current-gen consoles

We asked the team about the damage system and it's another leap forward in terms of tech. Nothing is scripted, but each one of some 30 different impact zones have realistic behaviours ready to play out in an accident. Metal will bend according to real-life crash test data and every part of the car that falls off will remain in the game world as a physics object. The game stops short of deforming the cockpit, so you can't squish your driver into strawberry jam, but it does have more animation points in the damage so it will look even smoother when you watch it at super-low replay speeds.

Massaging the EGO

The EGO engine has been developed throughout the process of making this game, and it shows. Perhaps the most noticeable overall benefit is that GRID 2's physics engine runs at 1,000 samples a second, which is twice as many as is closest rivals, Forza and GT. It makes for a very smooth ride. And it seems they can play the numbers game when they want to.

Above: Those wheels' physics are calculated 1,000 times a second

But that's not impressive enough for GRID 2. It does all of this while modelling and warping the tread of the tyre in 3D, morphing the rubber according to the forces placed on it and calculating the grip of the tread that's touching the tarmac as a result. To be scientific, that's just mental.

Continental circus

Online, Codemasters Racenet will be integrated into the game, giving a greater sense of community to the proceedings. The online mode will be separate from the single-player's XP level, meaning your online career is whatever you want to make it. The idea is that you'll tell your own story – and be able to set up your own goals and smash them if you so wish (which sounds a lot like Metropolis Street Racer's 'Kudos' system - no bad thing). You can set up your own event type, choosing everything, or just jump into a quick race.

You'll be given some Tier 1 cars  to choose from at the start to get you going. There are four tiers, with cars ranging from a Ford Mustang Mach 1 – the first car in the game – through to a Pagani Huayra and Koenigsegg Agera R at tier 4. If you don't know what those last two are, they're the very latest supercars – the former being Pagani's second ever car after their world-famous Zonda. Suffice to say they all look as enticing as a cool beer on a hot day. Or lemonade, depending how old you are.

Above: Who wouldn't want the chance to drive one of these beauties at speed?

After the issues that the first game reportedly had with the Ferrari license (which the team don't wish to discuss), we couldn't quite get a confirmation that Ferrari will be appearing in this sequel. But with F1's licensing going so well, it wouldn't surprise us at all if Ferraris did appear in the game.

Another area the developers wouldn't be drawn on was the potential for wet-weather racing. It was conspicuously absent in GRID, but then as the team point out, nobody really missed it. We suggest perhaps the F1 games' weather tech could be borrowed, which they countered by saying 'well, we never borrow tech without adding something to it ourselves'. So... we're expecting rain effects, only better. Perhaps with accurately forming rainbows in the spray?

Above: Fat tyres, close racing and up to 40,000 spectators per track. We like this

We had been a touch concerned at Codemasters' decision to go down a 'racing games only' route. F1's been consistently great, but with review scores for DiRT arcing slightly downwards in tandem with the increased frequency of releases, we were wondering whether quality was suffering at the expense of prolific output. But now we've played GRID 2, we understand.

The past four years have been spent creating that is already very special. If DiRT Showdown was throwaway popcorn gaming, this is the crème de la crème of a cordon bleu speciality. The game's not coming out this year (it's down for 2013) but it is coming to current gen machines. The timing has been chosen deliberately - the team is getting end-of-generation performance from both consoles. And who knows, perhaps the maxxed-out PC version is going to be a launch game for next-gen?

Even if it's not, it doesn't matter. If you have any interest in racing games, get excited right now. This is going to be a very big deal.

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47 comments

  • DirkSteele1 - August 8, 2012 12:24 a.m.

    Wow. It has been a while since I was excited for game coming to current consoles. This has certainly caught my attention. Hope the final product delivers.
  • Rub3z - August 8, 2012 12:59 a.m.

    I'm quite a racist myself. :D
  • Hobogonigal - August 8, 2012 1:42 a.m.

    I really enjoyed the first GRID so I am genuinely excited to see more of #2. Codemasters really know how to make super-realistic and sexy racing games!
  • joabbuac - August 8, 2012 2:54 a.m.

    Grid 1 is still to this day my favorite racing game. I think what it does well is that its Authentic but not realistic, arcade but feels like the real thing - loved the career mode too, hope they have something like that again with the yearly structure though you can pick and choose the events you like. Better than the tear structure of Dirt.
  • suicidali - August 8, 2012 2:58 a.m.

    Improved weather tech? I can imagine the tagline now: "Grid 2. It has rainbows." In all seriousness, I'm a little bummed about no Destruction Derby mode, but this will still be a day 1 purchase for me... I could do with a new decent racing game to get me off of Forza
  • ninja-key - August 8, 2012 3:07 a.m.

    'But that's not impressive enough for GRID 2. It does all of this while modelling and warping the tread of the tyre in 3D, morphing the rubber according to the forces placed on it and calculating the grip of the tread that's touching the tarmac as a result. To be scientific, that's just mental.' DUDE WTF
  • bass88 - August 8, 2012 4:39 a.m.

    Very excited for this. Just curious Mr. Towell, did they mention that the PS3 version would be technically identical to the XBox360 version or is it still too early to say anything about that?
  • GR_JustinTowell - August 8, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    They sure did - because I asked them! Check out http://bit.ly/QfkBbk
  • bass88 - August 8, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    Cheers. After reading it alarm bells are ringing in my head. I think PS3 owners are getting sidelined again. Hope I'm wrong though.
  • GR_JustinTowell - August 8, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Really? I would expect AA to take a slight hit, but that's unfounded conjecture, just what usually happens with multiplat. I honestly couldn't say... though they didn't look at all worried when I asked them. Fingers crossed - my wireless Xbox wheel's playing up again and I'd love a decent PS3 racer for my Logitech GT Driving Force wheel :D
  • bass88 - August 8, 2012 5:39 p.m.

    Sorry. It's just when I didn't read them delivering a definite answer I foresaw a port with the same issues as past EGO games. I'm a pessimist so I do perhaps looking for the worst and that sent me off. However, spending four years on it did give them a chance to improve performance and if the F12012 guys are delivering a proper port then it does seem very likely that the PS3 will be identical to XBox360. Plus the best thing about pessimism is that when you are proven wrong, it's a wonderful surprise. Again, thanks for the write up. I know decried the game earlier but I am still anticipating it.
  • webbiker - August 8, 2012 6:34 a.m.

    Now make a motorcycle game with similar ingredients. Current gen has zero decent ones.
  • FoxdenRacing - August 8, 2012 7:56 a.m.

    Looks beautiful, and hopefully revitalizes the concept of the 'arcade racer'. I just hope it doesn't have one of those forsaken "online passes"; stunts like that are a dealbreaker for me. I am not a criminal, and I refuse to be treated like one as a paying customer.
  • RareHero - August 8, 2012 8:14 a.m.

    Justin, how would you compare the physics in Grid 2 to the first game's? My biggest problem with the early Ego engine was that the cars felt very disconnected from the road surface, almost as if they were pivoting on some sort of central axis. Realism aside, it just didn't feel natural. Codemasters has come a long way and I think they addressed that with the recent Dirt titles and F1, but it's been a long time since we've seen any sports car racing from them. I have to be honest, I am pretty dissappointed about the lack of interior cam, but the loss won't be too great as long as Codies gets the bumper and chase cams perfect. No shaking, no drama, make it simple and static, so it doesn't interfere with my driving. Don't pull the chase cam too far away from the back of the car. Then I won't mind. Aside from that, I am very excited for Grid 2. The market for this sort of racing game is shrinking: Turn 10 is playing it safe every two years and refusing to innovate, while Kaz lost his mind somewhere between the release of Tourist Trophy and GT PSP. Grid 2 needs to be brilliant.
  • GR_JustinTowell - August 8, 2012 9:08 a.m.

    The first game's physics were a bit too unrealistic for my liking. You could throw the cars into crazy corners and they would make a fuss but usually stick. Here, they're just as fun to drive and easy to get into a powerslide, but in a more natural-feeling way. And I skidded off into the wall at Chicago by playing like I would have in the original. That said, the California demo is very, very realistic. Helped by the wheel and pedals set-up of course, but the feeling of having actual tyres underneath you and of teetering on the edge of control is sublime. You'll love it, don't worry :)
  • ObviouslyCheesy - August 9, 2012 5:20 a.m.

    It's like I'm reading back part of a comment I made on another website. It's the part about the cars pivoting on some sort of central axis. This seems to be a typical Codemasters thing. You get used to it after a while but it's still weird looking. In games like even GTAIV the handling of cars feels a lot more lifelike.
  • LSZ - August 8, 2012 9:46 a.m.

    My Driving Force GT wheel has been gathering some dust since lately since I haven't gone back to GT5 in a while. This is the game that will pull me back in. I want.
  • MidianGTX - August 8, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    I like numbers. How many cars/tracks are we getting?
  • jackon680 - August 8, 2012 10:25 a.m.

    It sucks that there's no cockpit cam, i really liked it. it made the game feel more realistic than it already was.
  • shashank-duggi - August 8, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    Funny how they had four years, no pressures and dead lines and yet decided not to add the cockpit view :\

Showing 1-20 of 47 comments

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