Codemasters’ excellent racing pedigree requires nearly no mention at this point as the UK development studio has built a reputation like no other with games like the DiRT series, Formula 1 and of course the GRID franchise at this point. GRID was released over 5 years ago and was astonishingly advanced when compared with its racing game peers back in 2007. GRID 2 therefore had quite a lot to live up to and fans’ expectations were high after a five year wait.
Codies decided to release GRID 2 on the current generation platforms as opposed to the PS4 and Xbox One which were in arms reach but on first glance you wouldn’t guess that GRID 2 is an Xbox 360 or PS3 game. The Ego engine has allowed the series to impress with visually stunning car models, tracks, lighting, reflections and little details like blowing steam or fog. GRID 2 truly pushes the envelope of the 8 year old hardware that it is running on. The studio has once again managed to take racing games to new heights with much attention paid to the little things that have been painstakingly detailed by the gear heads at Codemasters.
Where the original GRID lacked a bit was the single player experience which had players go through seasonal progression with the annual 24 hours of Le Mans being the finale so to speak. GRID had featured various locations and car classes and that has returned with GRID 2 but Codies added a lot more meat to the experience including a narrative that takes players through the World Series Racing or WSR which takes the player to different locals around the world like the Red Bull Ring or fictional tracks like Chicago and the arc de triomphe in France.
Each season will see you progress and compete in race events as well as drift, eliminator or checkpoint events. The track, vehicle and event selection is large and diverse enough to not get bored as you progress through the various seasons and challenges. At the end of each WSR season we get to see some neat ESPN content with actual people that discuss the events of the past year. While this is a neat addition to the game, it does feel a bit lack luster and could have been much more integral to the experience.
Nonetheless, GRID 2′s single player is nothing to snuff at. Players will gain followers, XP and cash to acquire new vehicles which can be customized to your liking. The car customization had me spent many hours experimenting with the liveries, color schemes and wheel selections. Sponsors are back again too and allow players to select companies to be represented on the cars in exchange for XP and Followe bonuses. GRID 2 once again has YouTube integration which allows you to upload replays to the internet which will then be viewable in RaceNet – Codemasters’ hub for all of its racing games. RaceNet allows for tracking of stats, selecting weekly rivals and more.
What about the actual racing you ask? Well, this is where my excellent opinion of the game so far takes a bit of a downturn as I am torn. While racing in singleplayer is absolute fun and a blast in many ways, GRID 2 is quite a bit drift and power-slide heavy even in ‘balanced’ or ‘grip’ cars while ‘drift’ cars are of course very prone to over steer. I would have liked the game to be a bit more racing and simulation heavy as opposed to being inclined to slide through ever turn. I understand that the game needs to reach a broad audience which it does very well but at least in the ‘grip’ cars I would have appreciated a more realistic racing experience.
The Codemasters RaceNet also comes in handy when it comes to the games’ excellent multiplayer mode in which I have spent many hours with. GRID 2 offers weekly challenges like drift and checkpoint events as well as the fun ‘overtake’ challenges in which players compete in leaderboards and friends. RaceNet allows you to select social rivals which you try and beat over the course of a week. This mode is extremely addicting and had me spent late nights trying to eek out some XP to beat that annoying rival.
The other aspect of GRID 2′s multiplayer experience are of course the competitive modes where you face off against real life opponents in race modes as well as drift and more. This is where GRID 2 shines for me. I love being able to gain XP to unlock and buy new cars, which can be upgraded and then competed with. GRID 2 has something for everyone with its custom events or playlist options. I like to select a playlist at times where I get verity or chose a specific race tier and options to my liking. One feature to be noted is that GRID 2 has ‘impact ratings’ which place you against rowdy players or clean racers. In case you want no bumping at all simply turn off collisions – a very nice feature.
I have rarely been disappointed with a Codemasters game as long as I can remember and GRID 2 is no different. Codies has once again delivered an excellent racing experience that albeit being a bit too arcade for me is a clean knock out of the park in nearly every aspect. The WSR singleplayer angle had me continue to push through the various seasons while the weekly challenges and multiplayer races kept me grinding for hours on end. GRID 2 is not only a visually impressive game but also combines a polished singleplayer mode with social integration and addicting multiplayer.
Score: 9 / 10
GRID 2 was developed by Codemasters Southam and published by Codemasters for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on May 28th. A copy of the Xbox 360 version was provided to us by Codemasters for reviewing purposes.