“Viral videos are the way to win”. While debatable in the real world, this statement effectively forms the structure, and in turn, embodies the story throughout GRID 2.
GRID 2 is the latest street racing title from Codemasters, where you enter the role of a racer who is deemed as the next big thing in racing. This is due to your viral internet videos, as well as becoming the person that will push the medium to heights like never before.
The game is spilt into two sections, with the single player following the story of “insert name here” driver who will climb the tiers of the newly created ‘World Series Racing’ league. The reason why I say “insert name here” is because being Codemasters, you can pick a name and/or title that you will be called by. There are a variety of choices to pick from but I was boring and picked Tom. Apart from the narrator being oddly personal with you they don’t really have much benefit. He spews out the same dialog every race or two but he does give you information when you damage your car and how it affects your cars racing ability.
As you complete races, you start to gain access to more vehicles to choose from and more fans to support you. I don’t understand the concept of fans because I haven’t found a use for them. I guess the developers thought we needed a number that goes up when you win that can’t be money, so they picked fans instead because it ties into the whole viral video aspect.
Since there is no currency in single player, you cannot actually purchase cars or upgrades. All that has been saved for the multiplayer section of the game, and the two don’t seem to cross over at any point. This is something that I miss – I liked tweaking my upgrades between different cars, so that they would be suited for different kinds of races. You can however get people to sponsor you, which in turn covers your car in stickers, along with vinyls that you can add to make the car look pretty. This doesn’t make any difference to performance however (Unless you put flames on because it makes you go faster).
Another thing that is lacking is the in-car cabin view mode. This mode was always for people who really want to get immersed in the game. Watching the wheel trying to recorrect while the dials spike into the red, just as the car goes into a powerslide, is quite amazing to see. Now that it’s gone, it seems a little.. odd. It might be a small thing to some people, but to the hardcore fans that have everything set up to play the game, it’s a bit disappointing. This baseline feature within most racing games should have been included in GRID 2. It is something that will affect players who are after that extra level of immersion.
Live track routes are a new innovation of track design from Codemasters, where the track changes as you progress through the race. To me, this is pretty cool as I don’t have the time or the need to learn every track’s twists and turns to be competitive in multiplayer. In other games, I would have to learn the track the first time around before being able to get into the rhythm of the turns, but with this, everyone is at the same level for the most part. With this aspect, it gives the game a feeling of Split Second: Velocity with fewer explosions and I wonder how much it will get played in multiplayer.
The multiplayer side of things is a lot of fun. You jump into a lobby and race whichever track has been decided, so that you can gain money and experience. This is where you can customise your cars performance after getting the required levels. If you gear up a car enough, it will put you in the next tier of racers. Due to this, you’ll have to make sure you get it as close as possible to the top, so you have the best chance on the racecourse. Ping didn’t seem to be an issue for me – everyone was racing and faded out when they went flying off the road. In multiplayer, the rewind feature has been replaced with a reset function which is very handy. Instead of just placing your car back in the middle of the road it will jump you back on at speed to keep it competitive. Just like in real racing, the first corner is always the most fun – everyone piles into each other, all trying to get that early advantage. It leads to some spectacular crashes and bits of cars going everywhere, all at once. It’s a really fun time to jump in and have a few races, and once you get the hang of the tracks, you will be sliding around corners and taking podiums in no time.
With all this crashing going on, the game still looks magnificent – everything in the background is detailed and shiny. Without the cabin view, I prefer the bonnet cam as the reflections coming off the bonnet simply look stunning. This in particular, gives you the most immersive feeling that you could get in the game. GRID 2 runs great for me, with everything turned to max and one GTX670 activated. I wouldn’t think it would be too intensive on the PC and it even has a laptop power save mode, which I thought was a nice feature. It was hovering about 80fps but if I wanted it to run it higher I could always turn on my SLI… (OK now I’m just bragging, moving on!)
It’s hard to say how much I will continue to play such a beautiful looking game. Since I do like my fair share of racers, the multiplayer will keep me interested as long as there are players online to play with. With the lack of cabin mode, it is a bit disappointing on the immersion side of things, but it’s an issue that went away fairly quickly and I continued to have fun playing.