Back in the Driver’s seat
It has been awhile since I have played a more realistic racing game on PC. I’d probably have to go back to DiRT 2, the last game that included the Colin McRae prefix. I have definitely tried my hand at some other racing games in the meantime, but games such as Trackmania Canyon and Need for Speed have a more arcade feel to them. So when the ultra-realistic nature of previous Codemasters titles was missing from GRID 2, I was somewhat upset…to begin with.
Strangely for a racing game, there is somewhat of a story here. That of one man’s foresight and passion for motorsport. And of how he, Patrick Callahan, sets up a fledgling championship. Of course, you have been selected to front the championship as its number one drawcard. Your performances in the minor competitions across the United States will set the scene for the new World Series Racing (WSR) to gain a foothold in the motor sport world. Despite the premise of a story, the game is all about the racing. Great racing results in increased numbers of fans to the WSR championship.
As the pin-up boy (or girl) for the new championship, you compete in various races to improve your standing amongst the race-going public. Apart from the standard racing where you vie for a podium finish amongst a field of drivers and the time trial races, you are gradually introduced to a number of varying race types. The differing game modes definitely keep things interesting, as you are not simply driving around in circles as is the case for Codemasters staple F1 series.
More racing styles
The designers have made a significant attempt to vary the racing types from the tried and true models. The Face-Off races are probably my favourite. In them, you go head-to-head against a single driver, and like a tennis grand slam. If you win against that opponent, you then move on to the next round, fronting up against someone who also won their first round match. Winning against the second opponent moves you through to the final. Face-Off races can be quite damaging to the vehicles, as contestants have no qualms about nudging you into a barrier. But then again, if you do it right yourself, it can also pay dividends.
Other race modes include Elimination where racers are slowly eliminated throughout the race until there is only one racer remaining, Checkpoint which has racers covering as much distance as they can before the time runs out, passing checkpoints along the way that grant extended time, and Overtake, which has racers passing SUV’s along the track, with points awarded for passing more of the obstacles in a row.
The one race type that I was somewhat disappointed with, was the Endurance races. The first time I came across the endurance race I was expecting a lengthy 10-20 lap race (lengthy when compared to the standard three lap races). But instead, I was confronted with a five minute race. Yes, you read right…five minutes. Hardly a feat of endurance there and another reason why GRID 2 feels more like an arcade style game than the simulations we have come to know from the Codemasters team. But the quick races translate particularly well to the online multiplayer environment and the RaceNet system. The RaceNet system is similar to Battlefield 3’s Battlelog, enabling gamers to be matched up with similarly skilled drivers online. RaceNet also allows gamers to compete in the Global Challenges. These competitions change weekly, so even the less skilled drivers can have a chance of making the podium if they happen to pull one great performance out of the hat. It gives the opportunity for gamers to see how they sit against the best in the world.
Pick a car
The range of racing types is outdone by the number of cars that you get to drive. Although the number of vehicles doesn’t compare to the likes of Gran Turismo, there is still enough to please everyone. There are the American muscle cars such as the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro as well as Japanese drifters such as the Nissan Silvia and the Honda NSX-R. Once you get to the European racing scene gamers get the chance to drive Audis, BMWs and Mercedes before finally moving up to the ultra-sports cars such as the McLaren, Koenigsegg and the Bugatti. OK, so fans of the red team, Ferrari, will be disappointed, but everyone else should be able to find something they would love to drive. All of the cars are superbly detailed and look amazing, even more so when you customise their paint jobs to suit your own style.
Lovely visuals, a range of race types to keep the racing fresh and plenty of cars to drive.
Quick sprint races and a more arcade racing feel may not suit the Codemasters faithful.