GRID 2

GRID 2GRID 2 is a motorsport masterpiece game sequel was worth the wait featuring two main modes for one player and online plus a two player split screen racing option.  New features include a reverse action button and gameplay video uploading/editing/posting to YouTube.

Codemasters concentrates on their game development strengths with a simple cinematic race experience for players of all levels. Veterans to the genre and series get some advantage here, but anyone can conquer the challenges, races, styles, and various objectives.

GRID 2 features World Series racing on rural roads, mountain pass, licensed circuits, and urban streets in various worldwide locations include Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Chicago, California, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, and Paris.

Tutorial completion and account links (YouTube RaceNet, PSN, etc.) are the first orders of business as players get a nice role-playing approach with a garage base launching pad for customizing their cars, choosing races, and increasing their racer profile. RaceNet is Codemasters’ online community portal for GRID Autosport, F1 2013, F1 Race Stars, F1 2014, and GRID 2 (this game list current as of December 29, 2015).

GRID’s strong visuals, vehicle physics, and booming sound definitely warrant frequent use of the new gameplay recording and upload feature. Players set up their You Tube account then edit (mainly start and end point of rough footage) and post their gameplay to their personal YouTube account/channel (account setup and/or association required).

This feature also incorporates the main story as a promoter notices the player’s YouTube video online and invites players to join a new “world series” racing league originated by Patrick Callahan. Since the league is new, players must amass a legion of fans to gain success and continue their livelihood. These fans essentially become the initial currency as players race to gain specific fan numbers before progressing to different objectives and challenges.

Players can drive for other teams, form their own team, and negotiate sponsorship contracts for new vehicles. Car customization involves aesthetic and basic changes (paint, finish, decals, racing number, etc.). It would have been nice to customize the main car frame and car weight to optimize drifting mechanics (though you can change handling and wheels), but that would lean too much towards the racing sim and this game is a nice mix of arcade and sim.

The test drive (practice) mode can help a lot, especially when learning to properly drift – a rewarding stunt essential in most race scenarios. The exhilarating result of a perfect long drift and completing that complicated maneuver amid a pack of rivals can help solidify confidence while the replay options make the crashes and mistakes so much fun…and the feeling of a thrilling comeback after those seemingly devastating event is even better.

GRID 2 has great controls though the camera presents some issues and limitations. Players get the standard L2 brake and R2 accelerate control scheme and circle button for hand brake. Use x to gear down and square to gear up if you want to be really authentic or have a steering wheel peripheral like the recently released Speed Wheel 6 MT). The best way to drift and take corners is accelerate into the corner then ease off the accelerator and quickly touch the brake then accelerate again while steering away from the edges (easier said than done).

The control scheme for the camera involves using the right stick to look around, which is not recommended. Developers provide a visual indicator when a rival drive is behind you, so missing a tight curve to glance behind you is a much worse scenario. The camera options do not include a first person cockpit view. Players can always restart or check the racing rules (like defining “cutting corners”) in the pause menu (start button) at any time. Players can also access the timeline to replay career events and cut scenes.

The impressive visuals and special effects (e.g. slow mo finish line sequence) anchor the game’s kinetic racing action while the storyline follows a somewhat linear path in single player mode. The online mode is a different experience that matches players with similar skill levels, but concentrates more on unlocking cars, challenging other players, and advancing through endless challenges and racing experiences. The cars are plentiful and range from a Ford Mustang to ultra-end performance enhanced cars. Players get the choice of the appropriate car for different races in both modes.

GRID 2 shows players the money in online mode, which can involve two to 12 players at once plus separate challenges with comparative statistics, friend invites, leaderboards, messaging, voice chat, and other features (all requiring a VIP Pass code). Players make some dough and increase their level while also battling some decent driver AI along the way.  The driver AI does not overwhelm, but battles for position with their own entertaining spinouts, so players are never out of the hunt when they make a key mistake.

A key mistake? How can I erase it? Again, Codemasters has an answer with the new flashback feature (triangle button) that lets players rewind the action after devastating crashes or costly mistakes and start anew – it’s a feature everyone will use. The rewinded time available depends on the amount in the bar (bottom center) and you can only use them so many time during a race (check circles in bottom left screen – online and offline modes differ).

In the online mode, I joined a group race and clicked on my tallwriter72 username (among all the other participating drivers) then my trophies started to load. Well, I have several trophies, so I actually missed the online race because my trophies were still loading (spinning clock in upper right and shaded black screen). A disclaimer (perhaps in an update) stating that clicking on your own or other player’s username block could cause delay (depending on how many trophies the selected player has) would be very helpful.

Grid2-

Codemasters usually offers choices for each initial shortcoming. For example, the tracks are initially limited to Chicago, California, mainland Asia, Japan & Europe, but also include liverouts, which are special city circuits where no two laps are the same. Tired of battling online player and the driver AI? Go to single player mode and try the split screen off-line mode for two players.

GRID 2 has the same elements involving the speed, crashes, and navigation in most successful racing games boosted above mediocrity with worldwide competition, extraordinary visuals, and realistic physics all enhanced with a memorable instrumental music soundtrack and sharp sound effects. Eventually the challenges and overall format inspired me to look away from standard elements (e.g. radar in the bottom left corner) and gain the confidence to drive through any situation this game throws at you, especially when you cannot see what’s coming over the next hill.

This highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) racing game is also available on Xbox and PC. GRID 2 requires 2567 MB of hard drive space on the PlayStation 3 and supports the racing wheel peripheral support.

The world record-breaking GRID 2 BAC Mono Edition includes an actual BAC Mono ultra enhanced car and factory tour… for a cool $190,000. If you don’t have that much money lying around then try the special editions, the free downloadable demolition derby mode, or the additional downloadable content (DLC – current as of June 30, 2013): Indy Car Pack ($6.99), GTR Racing Pack ($4.99), Headstart Pack ($4.99), Super Modified Pack ($5.99), and Unlock All Cars ($6.99).

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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