A View On GRID 2
There are two things that Codemasters do really well. One of them is racing games, and the other is sequels to racing games. This is the latter.
I was very sceptical back in 2008 when Codemasters expanded the TOCA Touring Car series of games with Race Driver: Grid which featured a greater array of racing disciplines and motor sports. However the career campaign won me over and proved that my concerns were unfounded. Being the owner and primary driver for your own racing team, choosing the different motor sports to participate in as well as hiring and firing your secondary driver made for a compelling and engaging racing game. Which in truth is sadly a rare thing for a racing game to achieve.
I would never class it as a hardcore racing game, given it had a rewind button to give you an extra chance at cornering/overtaking without hopefully trashing your car for a second time. Thankfully Codemasters did a good job in balancing the accessibility of the game to keep long term fans like myself happy, despite losing the TOCA “simulation” aspects that had made me a die hard fan of the series since TOCA Touring Car Championship for the PlayStation 1 back in 1997.
So as you can imagine GRID 2 is quite high on my must buy list for this year. This is despite the uproar that has been caused by Codemasters’ announcement that they have scrapped the cockpit view for the sequel. A decision that was made from user telemetry data gathered from server game play which showed the only five percent of users actually used the cockpit view.
Nonetheless, that five percent would be the die hard racing game fans that Codemasters may be further alienating with GRID 2 as they did with the previous title. Not me though, I’m afraid as much as I love a good racing simulation, I usually use the bonnet cam.
Removing the cockpit view was also justified as allowing the developers to put more of the horsepower into not only the graphics but also the new handling physics, dubbed TrueFeel. And this has me more worried than Jeremy Clarkson taking an electric car on a long drive.
The idea behind TrueFeel is to distill the usual raw simulation data for the licensed cars into something that retains the basic feel and handling, but adds more accessibility to the overall handling and adds an extra degree of back-end drift. One of my favourite additions to the original GRID was the inclusion of the Japanese Drift motor sport, which surprised me as I’d only ever associated it with boy racing nonsense and was hesitant to start a season of it with my racing team.
Whilst adding extra drift to the handling may add a greater degree of fun for most players, it is something I hope that can be turned off so that those of us who enjoyed getting to learn and master the handling characteristics (both good and bad) of the wide variety of cars and car classes that the previous GRID title had to offer.
The game play video below of the Chicago track race shows just how “grippy” the handling can be. Although of course the issue with such videos for racing game titles is you can never be quite sure what the handling profile/difficulty is and whether you’re watching an “arcade” version of the race as opposed to a more simulated one.
Muscle cars, European racing and Drift are all set to make a return to GRID 2 along with a new addition, road races, which are more typically portrayed by arcade titles such as Burnout and Need For Speed. Perhaps another hint at Codemasters attempt to open their racing game titles out even further. Four classes of cars spanning four decades will mean that the variety and depth of racing should be on a par with the original GRID. I’m holding out hope that a true race day feel, with qualifying sessions, pit stop strategies and full racing rules will be present and correct. And with Codemasters pedigree, that should at least be a given.
Nonetheless, with my nerdy F1 appetite regularly sated with Codemasters other racing game franchise, I can honestly say that there won’t be much stopping me from giving GRID 2 a fair run on the track. The biggest potential disappointment being in how much leeway there is with regards to the TrueFeel handling.
GRID 2 is available now for pre-order and will be released on 31st May for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.