GRID 2 Review (Xbox 360)
The critically-acclaimed Grid is back with its sequel with promised improvements to car handling and A.I. topping the list from Codemasters.
While Grid 2 doesn't fully live up to the original, it's still a good racing game which some will find quite a bit of enjoyment from.
The Grid series is still sitting right in the middle of simulation and arcade racing. Grid 2 tries to improve on the things that matter while adding some features that ultimately make the game a better experience.
Grid 2 features an all-new handling and A.I. models. First, the improved handling is immediately noticeable during the first race. The beginning races and cars are a little drifty, but the way drifting is handled is something that is easy to master this time around.
The A.I., however, can be a pain in the butt. Even when putting the difficulty to very easy to test the new A.I., they would make sure they hit you when they drive by and were still overly aggressive. Now, there’s nothing wrong with competitive A.I., but they do a lot more than just be competitive. For those who love a real challenge, they will have no problem with this, but I can see the casual racing games fan becoming extremely aggravated.
Live Routes is one of the biggest features to be introduced and it's possibly the best. Throughout the career mode, and even online, there are races that will dynamically change. These pop up several times but never enough for you to really love them. I think implementing this feature is fantastic, but we needed more of them in the career mode.
The flashback system makes a return, with five being the limit. The racing line, however, is not included for everyone who prefers that in their racing games. Oh, and for those wondering, there is no cockpit view in Grid 2.
When it comes to difficulty, the options are pretty barebones. After browsing the options for several minutes, all you can change is the A.I. difficulty and switch between full or visual-only damage.
Getting into wrecks with several cars, both offline and online, does cause the framerate to dip on consoles. But unless all you plan to do in the game is wreck others (I know there are some of you out there), it’s not that big of a nuisance.
World Series Racing
World Series Racing, or WSR for short, is where you will spend the majority of your single player time. This new career mode has you starting from the ground up to build the WSR into a household name.
Teammates? They are gone in Grid 2. Other than sponsors, the overall structure of Grid 2’s career mode is completely different from the prior version.
ESPN is integrated into each season, with SportsCenter being the main focus. You will occasionally have a few personalities appear at the end of each season and give a few lines about the past season and upcoming one. The integration is subtle enough to where it’s not overbearing.
Miami, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Indianapolis are just a few of the locations events take place in. These cities look absolutely stunning, especially during night races.
Endurance, checkpoint, elimination, and drift make up some of the different race types in the game. There are also vehicle challenges (basically time attack) and promo events that will require you to overtake trucks on a track until time runs out and various other very easy tasks.
With five total seasons, the last two can get a little tedious since they take longer and longer to complete with each new season. Still, as single players go in racing games, it did enough to keep me playing and it is definitely something a little different.
Like most racing games, there are those players who will just speed into the first turn with the intention of trying to wreck other drivers. There are ways to avoid this, however. Custom races give you the ability to turn off collisions and you still gain XP and levels during those races. Also, the drift, checkpoint and other events have staggered starts that make the first turn wreck obsolete.
I had no connection issues whatsoever, which is always a good thing. Whether I was in a two-player or twelve person lobby, I never came across any noticeable lag. With that said, finding full lobbies was never an issue. Even if I joined a lobby with only three or four people, by the time the event started, the lobby was usually filled to capacity.
Online is the only way to actually upgrade cars. That feature is nowhere to be found in the single player or career mode. And although it’s there in the multiplayer, I never had the urge to upgrade cars, as it’s not vital to competing in each event. I was able to do just fine and even win several events without upgrading.
Global Challenges and rivals, which unlock after putting in the online pass code, do some interesting things. Global Challenge takes a set of events and has you try to do the best you can, with you earning medals and XP. The goal here is to do better than your friends, with bragging rights and extra XP on the line if you can beat them before the challenges expire. Rivals is just another way to defeat your friends on the track. The game will give you two random rivals, but to add anyone you know, you must do so via their website.
The multiplayer doesn’t really do anything unique or noteworthy, although the global challenges can be fun. But what is here keeps with the Codemasters pedigree of having enjoyable online racing games. Ever since DiRT 2, every game they have released has been incredibly entertaining when it comes to online play.
In the end, is Grid 2 fun to play? Yes, I think so.
If you are coming to Grid 2 thinking it’s a simulation-type racing game, then you will be sorely disappointed. Grid 2 does a good job of trying to balance the line between that and arcade-style, but it would have been nice if it settled on one or the other. The new handling model, which fits that arcade style, will take a few races to get used to, but I prefer it. The A.I., which leans more towards simulation, is far too aggressive even after they mentioned working on fixing that.
With all of that said, Grid 2 is by no means a below average racing game. Instead, it’s just a good one that tries new things and only succeeds with a few of them and falls short in others.
Learning Curve: Getting used to the new handling model and how each car drifts will take some getting used to, but it’s nothing that can’t be mastered. Even a casual fan can enjoy Grid 2.
Visuals: One gorgeous looking game, from the cars to the scenery. Just about everything is detailed, even down to the sparks that emit from your car after wreck. There is one downside, however, we did run into some framerate issues on the Xbox 360 version when a big crashes occurred.
Audio: Some decent music and the cars sound completely fine, but during races it all feels a little too quiet.
Value: Enough cars and tracks to keep you busy for awhile, and Live Routes extend those tracks even more. There is a lot here, it’s just a matter of will the handling and A.I. keep you playing or be the reasons why you stop?
Score: 7.5 (Good)