Grid fans have had to wait 5 years for this inevitable sequel, did Codemasters make the most of their time and deliver a winner? Grid 2 has quite a lot of hype to live up to both from fans and from their marketing campaign. Grid 2 had the most expensive pre-order ever ( $189,016 – which included an actual BAC Mono performance car featuring a special Grid 2 paint job) which generated a lot of excitement around the web. So what is the actual game like?

Presentation

There is no doubt that Grid 2 is beautiful. The cars are well detailed, reflections, shading and lighting are all top notch. The smoke, sparks and car damage all looked great and cruised along at an excellent frame rate even on my now outdated GTX 460 (with all the bells and whistles turned up). The most impressive feature has to be the backgrounds, each location is gorgeously detailed. The buildings in Chicago on the approach to your first race demonstrate this perfectly with sharp, detailed textures.

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Codemasters have even had a stab at creating more organic feeling crowds – while they are not detailed particularly well when you are stationary, once the race gets underway you really do feel the impact of the crowds cheering and even muttering in disappointment when you crash. The menu system is very simple and well laid out, I love the bokeh effect on the loading screens and the web style interface is a nice change. All the images in this review are in-game screenshots which really shows just how beautiful this game is.

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Gameplay

Grid 2 sits right in the middle of arcade racer and race simulator. I was initially a tad worried when they announced that there would be no driving guidance system or drive line markers etc. However what they have done is tweaked the handling of the cars quite considerably to achieve a fine balance; giving you that real car handling without making the learning curve too steep. In fact you should be carving beautiful corners in no time.

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Interestingly Grid 2 starts you off in rear wheel drive muscle cars – often the most difficult to drive. By the time you have mastered sliding around corners with these the focus of the game shifts away from you struggling to control a car and straight into the actual race experience as you jostle for position in one of the many game modes. The driving experience is fun and challenging with the Flashback feature minimising any frustrations (like being rear ended on the last lap of an endurance race).

Content

At first glance Grid 2 looks very meager – 2 modes greet you at the welcome screen – The World Racing Series (career) and RaceNet (multiplayer). However it treats each of these modes as a separate game which branches down into a whole lot of content. The World Racing Series is the career mode that features loads of different events, setup custom races, practice tracks and the ability to collect new cars,  and then style them to your hearts content.

The World Racing Series has a great backdrop for the game, with social media comments, live action SportsCentre clips, featured rivals and racing clubs branded with names like Eliminazione. The campaign mode features an american voiced engineer who talks you through the game. I didn’t mind this too much except for mid way through the game where he kept trying to take credit for my wins (no way dude that was all me). It also features a different take on currency – fans.

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You need to earn fans throughout the game in order to progress to new areas and unlock new modes and cars. I think the idea was pretty cool, but they really could have done more with this as it starts to feel quite flat very quickly. Cars unlock regularly as you moves through the different areas of the game, which feels very linear to me, I miss being able to save up and buy cars.

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The online mode is great, you earn experience and unlock cars here as well (with your career mode adding to what you have unlocked). It offers a wide range of race types and has a very efficient match making system. Driving in multiplayer is far more competitive due to the fact that your average human being is an unpredictable learning machine.

Grid 2 was developed and published by Codemasters. Our review is based on the PC version (Grid 2 is also available on Xbox 360 and PS3).