Preview: Grid 2

May 2, 2013

With just under a month until its release, racing fans are revving up their engines for Grid 2. Coming five years after the original Grid, this sequel so far seems to have kept the fun spirit of the original. We were lucky enough to visit distributor Namco Bandai’s office in Sydney to take Grid 2 for a test drive, and here’s how we finished up.

The story for the single player mode of Grid 2 is based around the idea of investor Patrick Callahan, who is trying to bring together the best races from all the different types of motor racing across the world for a super racing tournament – the WSRt. It’s best described as being analogous with how the UFC was formed, swapping out octagonal cages for roll cages. You of course play an up and coming racer, with your popularity and sponsor support dependent on both winning races and building up a social media presence. This all adds up to you proving your worth to Callahan as a superstar racer.

We took part in three races for the preview build – an intro race on the Chicago Riverside, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the California Pacific Way. All throughout the Chicago race you’re given updates by your engineer – he not only gives you driving tips and damage reports but also provides information on your competitors and strategies to get around them. It’s pretty basic stuff but from what we saw it was presented well enough and we got a kick out of some of the commentary. The Indianapolis circuit, meanwhile, gives you the chance to fine tune some more complex racing skills, such as drifting. It’s a vital skill to learn in this case as there is a variety of different types of turns, sometimes coming straight after one another in quick succession.

This was no more evident than when we reached the Californian track. Within the storyline, its the race that you need to impress other drivers and convince them to take part in the WSR. Overtaking and drifting are keys to winning the race, and a mistake in one aspect could prove costly in executing the other. The normal mode proved to be quite challenging in of itself, and this particular RC writer had to balk and switch over to very easy until the race was won. Thankfully, the flashback function from the original Grid makes a return, gaining  back valuable seconds and preventing wipeouts, spectacular as they are.

Beyond the single player version, we also had a chance to try out the multiplayer mode and  it proved to be ridiculous amounts of fun. Beyond the standard multiplayer races, the two main multiplayer formats we delved into were the time attack and checkpoint mode. In time attack, you simply need to stay in first position for a set time period which in this play was for five minutes. While there was a lot of racing skill required, a lot of the time we ended up crashing into one another for kicks. There is little in gaming more joyous than four people cackling over who can both instigate and be victim of the best prang.Meanwhile,  forcing wipeouts was an even more integral gameplay element of the checkpoint mode, with its use and abuse having greater potential to affect victim and perpetrator alike. Taking out other players will prevent them from reaching a checkpoint in time, but it can also have the effect of holding you back and making it tougher for you yourself to reach the checkpoint. In both instances, it’s still a kick to see such carnage in all its graphical glory.

Speaking of Grid 2’s visuals, they are a treat to behold, especially given that the preview we took for a spin hadn’t been given that final graphical scrub. The various burnouts and drifts that we engaged in had us spewing out a whole lot of smoke and churning up a lot of gravel and sand – at least until we crashed. Even the crashes and progressive car damage are all rendered in a fine fashion. Not only do you get to see CPU cars wipe out, you will also see pieces of your own wrecked car remain on the racetrack for the duration of the event – unless of course you’re a competent driver and don’t incur any damage, which isn’t necessarily as fun.

With just weeks to go until its release, Grid 2 is shaping up to be quite the interesting racer, especially if you’re engaging in multiplayer. While the cars used are accurate to their real-life counterparts, it never forgets to be entertaining along the way.