Quick Play: Previewing Codemasters’ Grid 2

For a long time there were two types of racing video games –the racing simulator, like Gran Turismo, and the arcade-style street racer, like the Need for Speed series. More recently, video game makers have been skirting the line between the two types of racers, seeking to appeal hardcore and casual racers, as evidenced by games like Forza Horizon. For game developer Codemasters, Grid 2 is that game.

Grid 2 Pagani Huayra rear three quarter 300x187 imageGrid 2, the follow-up to 2008’s Grid, has an interesting premise – what if there was a World Series of Racing? Not a one-off race like the International Race of Champions, but a full-on race series where the best drivers from each discipline faces off in a variety of different races to see who’s the best racecar driver in the world. We recently had a chance to sample Grid 2, and this time the game was more developed than our last quick preview.

In Grid 2, you play as an American racecar driver named Patrick Callahan who seeks to make that dream happen. Callahan wants to become the world’s greatest driver while simultaneously creating an international racing series dubbed “World Series Racing.” As Callahan, you start off racing regional events in the U.S., earning fans – the currency of the game. As you earn fans, you head to Europe to win over the Gran Prix fans, and then to Asia where you win over drifting fans, slowly building a worldwide fan base to help create World Series Racing. Once you complete the U.S., Europe, and Asia sections of the game, the World Series Racing really kicks off, with international races attended by thousands of fans, and covered by ESPN.

Grid 2 Ariel Atom front three quarter 300x187 imageRacing takes place on three types of tracks, with three styles of racing. The tracks range from street racing to road racing (represented by fast and dangerous highways) and real racetracks. The styles of racing will be instantly familiar to any casual gamer, with elimination, checkpoint, and traditional “if you ain’t first you’re last” competition. A few of the announced tracks include: Chicago (Street Racing), Barcelona (Street Racing), California Coast (Road Racing), Abu Dhabi (Track Racing), and the Red Bull Ring (Track Racing).

Vehicles are broken into four tiers. Drivable cars include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Subaru BRZ, Ford Mustang Mach 1, and Volkswagen GTI in Tier One; the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro SS, and Ford Mustang Boss 302 in Tier Two; the Ariel Atom, McLaren 12C, and KTM X-Bow in Tier Three; and the Koenigsegg Agera R and Pagani Huayra in Tier Four.

Grid 2 Ford Mustang and Nissan Skyline 300x187 imageThe few levels of Grid 2 I played showed a much more complete product than the last time we demoed the game. Though the game has a distinct arcade-like look to it, the vehicles dynamically differ as they would in real life, thanks to the game’s “TrueFeel” handling system, which aims to give the driver a true sense of how the car really handles by replicating tire, suspension, and weight physics, among other factors.  I sampled an E30 BMW M3 in Barcelona, a BAC Mono at the Red Bull Ring, and a Chevrolet Camaro SS in Chicago and the three cars couldn’t have felt more different. Both street cars were prone to power oversteer, but the M3 felt light, agile, and more tossable. The Camaro SS on the other hand felt, well, fat. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the BAC Mono just stuck to the Red Bull Ring surface, providing a completely different challenge.

Ultimately Grid 2 looks and feels like a much more developed game than before, with an interesting new premise and wide appeal, though we’ll reserve our judgment until we get more time to evaluate the game. Grid 2 will be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on May 28. A downloadable version of the game will likely appear within the next month or so.

By Christian Seabaugh

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