The original GRID which was released in 2008 as one of the more ambitious racing titles of this generation – developed by Codemasters – the racing studio responsible for franchises like DiRT and Formula 1. When the original GRID hit gaming consoles and the PC, it was a fresh and exciting new take on street and circuit racing where the pure driving and competition was on the forefront.
Fast forward about 5 years and the studio is finally ready to release the sequel to a racing game that came close to achieving that great balance between simulation precision and arcade fun. GRID 2 sets out to improve upon the original game by making the racing more exciting, authentic and manageable as GIRD had a bit of a floaty handling model which kept players from nailing laps and turns as they wanted.
GRID 2 has been equipped with the ‘True Feel’ handling model which is supposed to be a better mix between an arcade and simulation feel and this improvement became quite apparent from the get-go. In our hands on multiplayer preview earlier this month I was able to test the various Tiers of cars in a few different multiplayer modes against fellow members of the press and some of the GRID 2 development staff on real circuits like the Portuguese Algarve, and fictional locations like Paris and the stunning Dubai track.
Taking an incredible McLaren F1 through its paces on the circuit in Portugal or thrashing through the procedurally generated course in Dubai in a BMW M3 was some of the more exhilarating things I have done in a racing game in this generation and I preface this with this being preview code on an Xbox 360.
When racing in certain modes every lap will be different as GRID 2 utilizes a ‘Live Route System’ and it serves as a great equalizer since no lap will be the same – at any point players can be surprised by a left turn – literally. While the missing cockpit view in GRID 2 is somewhat of a big omission for racing fans, I have to say that the level of grip and precision in the track and road racing was very exciting and controlled, something I was missing in the original.
GRID 2′s handing feels a lot more precise and I truly felt more traction and physical connection with the tarmac which ultimately led me to take more chances because I knew how the car would behave in a given situation. The game also looks very appealing and it is quite hard to believe that GRID 2 runs on the same console hardware as its predecessor 5 years ago. During my short time with the game I really became hooked on competing with players in the room and edged out everyone apart from the Codemasters staff. The racing felt fast, intense and addicting. Needless to say, I can’t wait to play more and experience the various race modes, cars and locations fully before making my final judgement a few weeks from now.
GRID 2′s multiplayer will allow for 12 player races and AI back-filling, this means if you don’t have enough real competitors the game will fill in the remaining cars to create a full field of drivers. Doing well in races will lead to players earning XP and cash. While the XP will be used to unlock new items, the cash will be needed to purchase them. Customization has been streamlined and allows for quick visual and physical changes to your cars before getting back to the action. Players are able to fine tune upgrades or apply packs similar to the Forza ‘Auto Upgrade’ option. Codemasters wants to minimize the time spent off the track since the burning rubber is where GRID 2 shines the most.
RaceNet is Codemasters’ social network used to engage the community and has been fully implemented for GRID 2 as it brings an extended multiplayer experience along with browser, and mobile integration with a dedicated iOS app on the way. Players can access online playlists, setup custom servers and partake in the ‘Global Challenge’ – an asynchronous mode which can be compared to Autolog in Need for Speed.
Each of these challenges will be updated weekly with leaderboard integration and events like ‘checkpoint’, ‘drift’ and more. RaceNet will showcase some of the coolest customization on display for everyone to see and also allow for linking of your profile to Twitter if you want. Uploading video highlights to YouTube also makes a return in GRID 2.
Another big feature is the ‘Rivals’ mode which allows players to have 6 different rivals at once.These rival players can be chosen based on XP, Region and more. GRID 2 will give you an added XP bonus when you beat any of your rivals. Players will also build an online ‘Fanbase’ which is essentially a point based system that can also be compared on the online fame leaderboards against friends or the world.
A big annoying element in multiplayer based racing modes is the whole ‘griefing’ problem. We have all been bumped or crashed into when trying to race cleanly – yes, those are griefers. Codemasters has set out to avoid this frustration by implementing collision detection ratings as well as other ways of punishing cheaters. Additionally GRID 2 will allow players to separate between clean racing or bump and grind servers to avoid being in the wrong racing pack.
When GRID 2 hits Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the PC on May 28th it will once again try to set a new bar in the racing game genre much like its predecessor did 5 years ago. GRID 2 is focused on bringing players pure racing action in the most fun, engaging and exciting way possible. During my hands on time with the game I was very impressed with what Codemasters had shown off as it proved that the studio listened to the criticisms and improved the handling model along with the updated visuals and social implementations that are a new standard half a decade after the original title.
You can read our previous single player focused GRID 2 preview here.
This preview is based on a hands on demo of the multiplayer mode during a recent preview event.