Guest Review - Grid 2!
We were given a chance to review the latest racing game, Grid 2! Up for the task is new guest writer, 'Iodinesoup', who gave it a spin!
After what seemed like forever as I slowly inched my car to the finish line dead last, the mysterious disembodied voice whom I now assume to be the spirit of my dead friend (lost in a tragic car accident) congratulated me at my impressive race. Yet somehow the youtube pundits are praising my racing prowess. I was flabbergasted and really confused, but YouTube comments cannot be wrong.
A benefactor, impressed by my YouTube following, has given me an offer to race for his up and coming league and I am now on my way to be the racing world's Justin Bieber. Thus begins my journey into the racing world of Grid 2, Codemaster's sequel to last year's Grid, which is actually part of their TOCA series of games.
Grid 2 stands on its own unique niche that is between arcade and a simulation. Called "TrueFeel" by its designers, it boasts that it gives you enough aids and control to make you look good but without the feeling that the game is holding your hands.
But be warned - you still need a certain amount of skill to be able to play Grid 2 well. Drive carelessly and you will wreck your car in an explosion of metal shards and dirt. The damage modelling is unforgiving and will affect your car's handling during a race. Thankfully this is an optional feature that you can turn off in the options.
As additional aid, the "Flashback" feature from the previous game returns, letting you rewind time for a few seconds. This saves you the hassle of having to replay an entire race to salvage a botched lap, a useful aid & tool for the casual or hardcore player alike when it comes to track mastery.
The addition of YouTube integration has potential for plenty of ways to show off your spectacular finishes or wipe outs, and ties into the narrative of the game on a meta level. The story is extraneous but it serves its purpose. All it is needed to be is an excuse for to race... and race a lot you will as the progression structure works well.
Every season the game will present you with a series of race events you can compete in and as long as you place in top three each race, the final racing event of the season will open up. Occasionally you will have to compete in Car challenges and Promo races. Car Challenges are races you compete in to add another car to your garage and promo races usually are novelty races that add flavour to the game. Sponsor logos can be added onto your car and gives you additional challenges to clear. Win them and you can increase the number of your fans who are the commodity in Grid 2. Cars are unlocked just for progressing through the game and as optional rewards when you compete in car challenges.
From American muscle cars to Japanese sports cars, nothing is left out. Customising your cars is a simple affair with most options already available to you out the box. Unfortunately the options for decals are all pre-set; I would expect a pc game to allow more freedom when it comes to designing your own decals. Hardcore car simulation fans will be disappointed that car customisation covers only aesthetics.
For maximum enjoyment, I would recommend playing with a controller that has analogue sticks and vibration feedback. The analogue controls will make driving much more pleasant and the feedback adds heaps to the immersion. Feeling the road's surface as your car drives over it actually gives you additional information for driving and when your engine gets damaged, you can feel the engine struggling to put out power.
The graphics are top notch and runs well at a high setting even on my modest computer. Cars are modelled well and look like the models they represent but once you get your car damaged, it reveals some pretty low resolution texturing on whatever internal car parts that peeks through the dents.
The art direction on the tracks is amazing and adds a lot to immerse you into the game. The variety of tracks are fair but the tracks are not distributed well within the game's progression system. You only have a small number of tracks per season and with the amount of races you are required to compete in, the tracks start to feel repetitive. The occasional layout changes do not help and still feels like you are racing down the same tracks constantly.
The music is pretty dull and unnoticeable during a race. That would not be a problem to the players who care more about the racing but it does not hurt to have adrenaline pumping tunes playing while you race. The engine noise serves its purpose well, it is a steady hum and it lets you know it is there but not loud and obtrusively.
The biggest problem in the game is the camera views. The behind the car views seem to be too close to the ground and makes depth perception difficult to judge and the only view I can play well with is the behind the hood camera. Not as good as a behind the wheel view but is the closest Grid 2 offers.
So is this game for the hardcore racing fans? Definitely.
The way the car handles, the variety of cars and mixture of real world and fictional tracks will satisfy them for sure. Seamless integration with your friends list will always keep you updated with your friend's progress and best times, keeping your competitive spirit up.
The casual gamer on the other hand have nothing to fear. The Flashback feature and the option to turn off damage are more than ample aids to make sure inexperienced racers will progress through the game. Progressing in the game is all you need to do to unlock cars so you will never need to grind constantly to acquire the digital dream car you have always desired. But for anyone who has no interest in racing or cars, this would be a difficult game to convince them to try.
Despite the game's difficulty, I still had fun even with all the wrecking and horrible lap times I've accumulated during my review of the game. The failures are clearly due to my own ineptitude and not due to shoddy controls or unfair AI. This is a game that encourages you to be a better player in order to overcome every failure and never frustrates you.
Special thanks to New Era Entertainment for providing the game for review!