The sequel to the most important racer of this generation
GRID 2 will be released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on May 31, representing the culmination of a generation's worth of top-drawer racers from Codemasters. We've played it in multiplayer, single-player and smashed its cars to high heaven over and over again (the results of which we'll show you very soon!) so here's everything you need to know about one of the biggest racing games left to come out for current-gen.
New modes offer something different
There are some exciting new game modes aside from the usual race and events, most notably the new Endurance race with LiveRoutes. This gives you five minutes of race time, with whomever is leading when the clock runs out being declared the winner. However, the track’s layout changes from lap to lap, meaning you’re never quite sure whether the next corner is going to be flat-out or a hairpin.
It makes for some incredibly action-packed races in multiplayer. Japanese drift events are also in, as are one-on-one point-to-point races and--at least for pre-order customers--Indycars.
Races feature 12 cars on the track at once
It was one of the original GRID’s most impressive features and it’s great to see it return for GRID 2. All of the grid spots can be occupied by human drivers over the internet, with any spots not taken up by real people filled in by CPU racers instead, meaning the race will never feel empty.
Unless you’re *that* far out in front, of course, in which case 'go you'.
Social play is an integral element
The online mode is not some bolted-on afterthought. You'll have your own online career mode, managed and monitored via Codemasters’ RaceNet service, which allows you to connect to fellow racers in a style not dissimilar to EA’s excellent Autolog system. You can make rivalries, follow other gamers’ progress and even upload replays of your best moments and share them with the world at large via YouTube. You can sign up for RaceNet now in preparation for your online career at www.racenet.com.
Your online career will see you collecting cars, cash and upgrades as you go, as well as stealing 'followers' (not real people--more like a fame stat) from rivals you beat. While upgrades may give you a slight advantage, the game has been carefully weighted so that even non-upgraded cars stand a chance of winning if the driver is good enough. And if online isn't your thing, you'll be pleased to hear an offline split-screen mode will be included.
It’s a subtle blend of spectacle and simulation
The thunderous, fast-paced action would easily convince you that this is an arcade racer, but its roots are actually in simulation. The physics engine is running at 1,000hz, which means the car tyres’ contact with the road surface is simulated a thousand times a second (even taking into account tyre bulge and morphing of the tread as you corner).
The result is a driving model that handles predictably and assuredly--something you’ll appreciate when you’re aiming for the 'Pedal to the Metal' achievement for finishing a race without using the brakes. We got that one.
It’s easy to play, hard to master
The game uses what Codemasters is calling ‘TrueFeel’ handling. That means they’ve tried to reproduce the characteristics of each car in the game, without simulating it so realisticially the game becomes impossible to play for anyone who isn’t a professional racing driver. The result is a game that is incredibly easy to start playing.
Whether with a wheel or a pad, anyone should be able to get their car around the track (assuming they use the brakes every once in a while), as the handling is relatively forgiving. But the subtlety of control is enough to make time attack an incredibly compelling mode for hardcore racing fans. Despite the accessibility, the decision has been taken to remove all assists aside from optional automatic gears. What’s the fun in putting stabilisers on a racing car?
Some content won't return from the original GRID
The much-loved Destruction Derby from the original GRID is gone, although the team points out that the entire game contains the wince-inducing crash physics that mode encapsulated. So you’re not missing out on its contents, just the dedicated, named mode.
Also, eBay Motors' second-hand car trading will not feature this time around, and neither will Helmet cam. The latter is a particularly controversial omission, but the reason is simple: very few people ever used it in GRID 1, making the significant chunk of system resources reserved for it better spent elsewhere. On a side note, as with GRID 1, there's no Ferrari involvement (due to Microsoft holding an exclusive license) and wet-weather racing has been left off the list once again.
Cheaters will be penalised and segregated
Corner-cutters will find their cars have less power and they’ll be hampered by this lower performance until the advantage they gained has been cancelled out. Similarly, racers who enjoy a bit of the old argy-bargy will find themselves racing against similarly aggressive drivers thanks to the new matchmaking system, while those wishing to race like gentlemen should find themselves with like-minded people after the two parties get separated.
That’s the theory, anyway.
Enemy AI has got personality
Every CPU-controlled car you encounter will be driving with three personality traits taken from a pool of 80. Some will strive for fast lap times but avoid contact with other racers at all costs.
Others will refuse to yield if they’re in the process of being passed. And the occasional driver will seek revenge if you bump them off the road. You have been warned.
The damage system is more detailed than ever
GRID 2's racing is clearly a contact sport, whether it's meant to be or not. There's even an achievement for trading paint with every car on the track in an offline race and still winning. The results are brilliant too - each car has 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. Hit them and your car may lose control--or it may get stuck under your car’s body. Be sure to check out our exclusive crashes compilation in the very near future.
Squirrels are in
There are up to 40,000 spectators per track, but the living touches in the environment don't end there. This little chap darts across the California Coastline track as you race. At present, it is possible to pass over him, although he doesn't seem to be solid so don't expect to see any real-time squirrel damage.
And, just in case the squirrel puts you off your line and makes you crash horribly, you can ues the returning Flashback feature to rewind the action to a save point and tackle the corner again.
Look out for more soon
We'll be adding to this article as and when we learn more about Codemasters' new racer. What sort of stuff are you hoping to find out? Want to know more about the cars? The tracks? both? Let us know in the comments.
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