GRID 2 Review
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (2 players), Online Multiplayer (2-12 players), Leaderboards, Download Content
Grid 2 is a racing game that is the sequel to 2008's Race Driver: Grid. The original Grid received high praise most notably for its unique rewind (flashback) feature and the overall fun racing gameplay. Grid 2 is no exception in this. Overall, the game looks and feels better than its predecessor, but the flashback feature isn't enough to make it any more appealing than many of the other racing games already out in the stores now this time. Grid 2 is still a worthy sequel however.
The detail on the cars in Grid 2 looks much more realistic than the original Grid. The damage that was done to cars during crashes in the original Grid looked impressive but Grid 2 improves damage effects even more. The game basically strips your car down per collision until it is fully totaled out depending on how many collisions you have. Bumpers will start to fall off and then hang onto the car for a while and the hood might fly off or get stuck in place for a few seconds before detaching from the car. Doors will hang onto the side of the car after a wall collision then fall off at a later time. Tires can go flat and mess up your controls a bit while driving - the car will start to lean toward a certain direction while driving straight. The controls for the game are much like a driving simulator and they seems more responsive than the first game.
The environmental effects all provide for some nice scenery while racing, particularly on the night tracks. You'll race in the sun of Miami and on the back roads of other states. Sun can literally blind you while coming up a hill while the sun is directly up ahead. Along with the nice graphics, the sound is also very pleasing. There is one race track that has a tunnel and it muffles down the sound of the engines to make it sound like your car is actually driving through a tunnel while inside. Grid still offers several views for driving, but the cockpit view has been completely removed. There is now a view that shows the front hood of your car. This makes the first person view much less appealing since there is no windshield or steering wheel that gives off the impression that I'm actually in the car driving it. The first person view is still helpful, but it doesn't look as good as it used to.
Grid 2 has an actual story that starts with players receiving advice from Patrick Callahan. Callahan finds one of your racing videos online and recruits you to travel the world and take part in racing events to increase the reputation of the World Series Racing (WSR). He is basically your coach and helps you on setting up races. Players start out with small events then eventually work their way into the WSR main events through the number of fans that they gain through the prior races. Fans are basically like your experience points in Grid 2. When you gain a certain number of fans, more events open to you. The story is complete with cutscenes that show off your videos and Youtube hits along with posts on message boards about you. The story is basically just a way of hiding the standard racing game events behind a small coating of narrative, but it does help Grid 2 to stand out in a story perspective from the usual racer.
Patrick will coach you on your driving and overall position during races. He will appear in the form of a disembodied voice during races to give you advice. You'll take part in events such as the standard race, promo events, time attack, drift, eliminator, checkpoint along with a few other events. There is also a Test Drive mode (practice mode) that opens up after the first event is passed, which really helps out for racing novices such as myself! Drifting is almost always required to get through the majority of racing tracks and get an edge on your opponent. It seems like all cars are good at drifting. Even though all cars have their own unique feel to them, all of them can drift well also.
One thing that really got to me in just about every event was the way the AI cars would cause me to crash so very much. They often rode my bumper while I was in the lead then they would slam right into the back of my car all of sudden and send it spiraling out of control - not just during turns, they would hit my car hard while coasting along. This is where the flashback option can really help out to rewind and perform a certain part over again. I'd say about 80% of my trouble in the single player portion of the game was due to an AI car slamming into the side of my car.
Just the slightest little collision will cause a car to spin in place and completely ruin the current position. Hitting a wall or going slightly off track can cause a loss of control so very easily. The game has many courses with narrow roads and sharp turns - combine this with around eight other cars or more and you have the recipe for a nice bumper car ride once your car meets up with the pack. The Overtake events can be quite frustrating when you simply can't avoid collision because of the number of cars on the track with your car and the fact that your competitor seems to be trying to ram your car off the road. Even with all of the complaints about the AI and easy crashing, the single player can be quite fun, it's just that... it will take quite a bit of repeating at times even with the flashback feature.
Grid 2 offers some fun car customization per car that you unlock. You can change many different colors on the car and the hubcaps. It has some very cool designs to place on some cars. You will unlock more cars as you complete certain events and build your profile. You can gain three sponsors at a time and they will provide you with extra objectives that can be used to raise your profile even more once the objective is accomplished.
The online mode for Grid 2 feels more like a standard online racing mode, but it is really more fun than the single player game since the drivers don't seem like they are out to make me crash when I play it. The online portion is a completely separate mode from the single player games - nothing transfers over. Cars and customizations are unlocked through XP (leveling) and money gained from racing in the online mode. Much of the extra details like stats, comparisons and YouTube posting require a Race.net account, which can be signed up for while playing the game. Leveling up in online can take quite a while whether you do well or not. Expect to go through about five racing events (at least) before gaining a level. The online felt smooth and I didn't have any problems with lag when I tried it. The online has no flashback feature to it so one wipeout will likely be your last.
Overall Grid 2 is a fun successor to the original Grid, but it doesn't have much to offer that is different from the competition besides a disguised event list in the form of a story. The overall graphics and sound are really the best part of the game. It does seem to control a bit better than the first Grid as well. The game offers a two player split screen for those wondering. Drifting is nearly a requirement this time for many of the game's tracks, so all cars will be forced into drifting a good bit of the time. If you're a fan of the original Grid you will likely find a great game in Grid 2, but don't get your hopes too high.
+ Fantastic damage effects
+ Flashback is a fun quick fix for single player mistakes
+ Better controls than the original Grid (more precise handling)
- The AI cars in solo can be really cheap at times
- The slightest collision can completely ruin a race
Final Rating: 77%. Grid 2 is a worthy successor to the original Grid, but it doesn't really do enough to make it any more appealing than other racers out there.