Review: Grid 2 (PS3)

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Title: Grid 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (5.8 GB)
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
Grid 2 is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 3 disc version was used for this review.

Gameplay:
Grid 2 centres around World Series Racing; a new venture to showcase the best drivers on the planet, including you. In fact, you’ve been scouted out as having potential to be the poster boy of this billionaire’s seasonal project. Like most Codemasters games, this concept creates a suitable story to hold the game together, and makes it feel integral rather than an afterthought. WSR of course means competing all over the globe, so the classic racing game stereotypes of speedsters in the States, technical Europeans and Japanese drift kings, is once again conformed to.

This interesting take on a career mode is centred around gaining fans. Your finishing position in a race, completing objectives, showing up to promo events…it’s all about the fans. The system means that unlike most other racers, cash is not your goal. Indeed, you won’t ever make or need a penny. Vehicles are unlocked through winning challenges so you don’t need to worry about saving up for a new ride. Furthermore, the notion of recruiting more loyal followers of WSR means the entire mode is wrapped up in a YouTube/social network theme, which fits well.

In terms of the actual on-track performance, this is nigh-on perfect. The handling doesn’t feel loose or floaty at all and you’re always fully in control. With the Ego Engine now being so refined after powering some fantastic racers, Grid 2 has been meticulously crafted and brilliantly executed. What it lacks in personality (maybe due to not having as specific themes/aims as Dirt and F1), it certainly makes up for in technical prowess.

Grid 2 strikes a fine balance between sim and arcade styles, which suits the gameplay well overall. Events are often very aggressive thanks to the new and improved AI, and when combined with the flashback system, there is a constant temptation and ultimately tendency, to drive more recklessly than one usually would. Location-wise, Codies have produced a mixed bag. The diversity of backdrops is fantastic – from downtown Chicago at night, to a sunny Brands Hatch – so your driving style will need to alter. However, the quantity is disappointing, meaning these sites can become too familiar.

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Visuals:
In a word, stunning. As with the game as a whole, the presentation is extremely polished. To be expected at this stage of the PS3’s life cycle, Grid 2 looks superb in full flow. The lighting is phenomenal, as evidenced by the realistic reflections you can see on your hood depending on the level of daylight or the position of street lights. Moments where you can see leaves and bits of paper being whipped up as you drive by are also very cool indeed.

Whilst it’s clear these minute elements have been worked on immensely, there is one glaring omission: a cockpit view. For real racing diehards, the cockpit view in previous Codemasters titles (as well as other sims such as GT and Forza) are a huge deal. It adds another layer of realism, looking and feeling spectacular, especially when using a steering wheel controller. Admittedly, this exclusion will be a minor one for many players, so it shouldn’t put you off what is otherwise a game that boasts finely detailed visuals.

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Audio:
Codemasters have produced an impressively sounding racing game, with a realistic roar to the engines. With the volume cranked up, you can almost feel the power of the vehicles in a way other driving titles fail to achieve. When the viewpoint is changed, there’s a very discernible difference in the audio, with a convincing sound based on the distance of the camera from the subject. This is particularly noticeable when tyres are on different surfaces; the sound on grass when using the bumper view being just one example of this nice little touch.

My only disappointment is the return of the annoying on-track voice in your ear, offering critical advice. “You just took 3rd. Try and go for 2nd now.” Oh, really? Because I thought I should try and stay in a lower position… After you hear these useless remarks for hours on end, it becomes pretty grating.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Unlike the current norm in gaming, Grid 2’s modes are not integrated at all – the online portion of the game is a completely separate entity to the main campaign. I’d describe the multiplayer as functional rather than flashy, lacking the wow factor, in a similar vein to other facets of Grid 2.

I experienced no lag at all, with the online races as silky smooth as the offline. The small but dedicated online community are generally pretty aggressive drivers, so expect plenty of crashes in the incredibly frantic events. Codies have also included a split-screen option, which is always a welcome addition. However, due to the limited number of locales discussed earlier, I don’t expect this game to carry a great amount of longevity for most players.

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Conclusion:
The original Grid ushered in a new era for racing games – the ‘flashback’ years. The ability to rewind part of a race is one of the main characteristics that will be associated with this current generation of consoles. Five years later, its successor is devoid of any new features to inject into this crowded genre; though understandably at this late point in the console life-cycle.

Instead, Grid 2 melds together the finest features of this generation’s racers to deliver a well polished title. Is it Codemasters’ finest work though? No. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the game at all – far from it – but it just doesn’t feel special or inspiring. Those moments of excitement are seldom produced.

A blander package overall than Dirt, this is a great driving game which suffers from its slight lack of personality and perhaps more so from its attempt to be a jack of all trades. It’s definitely recommended and will provide many hours of flawless gameplay – but, whilst all the hallmarks of the fantastic UK studio are there, Grid 2 will sadly be looked back on as a missed opportunity to be the PS3’s definitive racer.

Score: 
8.5

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Written by Raj Mahil

Game collector. Journalism graduate. Batman addict. Movie goer. WWE nut. Sports obsessive. Arsenal fan. Squawka.com Sub-Editor.

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  • I really enjoy the game, but would score it a little lower than you would. But agree with the audio design. They did a really good job on the audio, mostly with the engine sounds.