A lot of racing games start you from the bottom and lead you on the path to make a name for yourself, but in GRID 2, that’s just a side-effect. Here, you work towards building the biggest, best racing league around, and do so by racing all over the world. Go on… millions of fans are waiting.
In GRID 2, money is “meh” and fans are “fantastic”. As you progress through the single player campaign, you’ll earn more fans after each race based on how well you’ve placed and drove. The more fans you get, the more noticed and desired WSR becomes. There’s nothing quite like earning your first million, let me tell you. Like a responsible racer, I decided to toss all of my fans into the bank so that they can grow in value.
Unlike in the single player, money plays a huge role in the multiplayer portion of the game. In addition to acting like XP, you’ll be able to purchase new vehicles once they’re unlocked at certain levels, and spend cash on upgrading them or altering their liveries. Unless you’re a stellar driver, leveling up and buying these things will take quite a bit of time, so while the single player campaign may take about 15 hours to clear through, expect much more than that for the online component.
In addition to straight racing, the game also includes “Global Challenges” and “Rivals” modes where you must compete against a randomly chosen user that matches the same game settings you have. These events are updated on a weekly basis, so there’s no rush to check back everyday. Outperform your rival, and you will earn a greater amount of XP.
In my limited experience online thus far, I’ve been pretty pleased. Other racers I wound up racing against were all equipped with better cars and were at least level 15+, so don’t jump in expecting wins right off the bat. Some, as you’d expect, find nothing wrong with ramming you into a wall, so patience is definitely required.
As for the driving itself, GRID 2 as mentioned earlier isn’t trying to be a sim – nor is it trying to be an arcade racer. It’s somewhere in between, and it works out well. If you’re used to games like Need for Speed, GRID 2 will take some getting used to, that’s for certain. It’s definitely challenging and very rewarding. Drifting in particular is a skill that will take some time to master – there are many variables that decide how successful you are.
Part of the challenge comes from the game’s good AI. Each team you race against has their own traits, so it’s worthwhile to learn them; you’ll know when you should be aggressive rather than just play it cool and find yourself at the back.
As challenging as the game might be at times, it can also be quite lenient. There were times when I’d clearly cut a corner, but the game didn’t punish me for it, and there were also drift races where I couldn’t pull a drift off cleanly but the game rewarded me anyway (a guilty pleasure, actually, given how horrible I am at proper drifts in the game). Fortunately, like the original game, flashbacks are there for your use – five per race. Screw up? Hit the flashback button and you’ll be rewound up to 15 seconds or so to undo your mistake. Obviously, these cannot be used online, even in the ghost races.
The graphics in GRID 2 are for the most-part excellent. The locales and level of detail is quite good, although the exception is with the cars. While they look alright, it’s certainly not up to par of what you’d expect from a 2013 PC game (clearly a PC port, but that’s not a surprise). In fact, I’d say that Test Drive Unlimited 2, which came out a couple of years ago and had nearly 3x the number of cars, had far greater detail – a bit odd since Codemasters’ forte is racing games. And hope you don’t lose your hood during a race, because… blech.
Audio-wise, things are great. The cars sound excellent and the voice-acting is all very well done. Sometimes, WSR’s leader Patrick Callahan becomes a little annoying due to repetition, but it’s just more incentive to drive better. There’s one online annoyance with audio: you cannot mute anyone. In between races I’d have to endure others click-clacking, and during them, I had to try to decipher the language they were speaking. Player muting would have been a fantastic feature.
The couple of minor issues aside, GRID 2 really is a great driving game. It’s not too difficult, which should make it an attractive offering to those who don’t care for the sim-like titles but still want a good challenge. There are not a ton of tracks here, but the ones chosen are great-looking and fun to drive (I’m particularly happy to see Yas Marina here, and of course, Indy).
One other perk about GRID 2 is that if you complete the main campaign and then head online, there are many hours of fun to be had. This ain’t no sub-10 hour game. If you enjoyed the original, or like what GRID 2 offers and appreciate a bit of a challenge, the game is well-worth checking out.