The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Just like Patrick Callahan's fictional WSR league in Grid 2,
the Grid racing franchise has a reputation to think about. While Callahan is
trying to build his, Grid has one to maintain. The series has been absent for
almost five years, and some of its key elements such as multi-discipline
racing, flashbacks, and a certain slickness and sense of style have been used
by other racing titles. Time may have moved on, but my expectation for the Grid
series to remain at the forefront of the genre has not changed. Grid 2 retains
much of what made the first alluring, but falls short of pushing racing games
forward like the original.
The WSR (World Series Racing) league is the wrapper for the
single-player experience, and your mission is to help it gain prominence by
recruiting different racing clubs (by beating them in races, naturally) from
around the globe who specialize in various race events to gain their
participation in subsequent seasons of the WSR. In turn, these are
amalgamations of the different racing types (like elimination, Touge, one-one
Faceoffs, checkpoint, etc.). You progress by earning fans for the WSR, which
are gained through races and special promo events that present other modes like
the fun Overtake races (where you try and pass as many slower trucks on the
track as you can).
The WSR experience may be punctuated by special in-studio ESPN segments,
a garage operation that grows with you, and sponsorship requirements, but the
actual act of growing the league isn't the strong motivator that it's supposed
to be. Racing in the league itself feels repetitive by the time you get through
the club recruiting process, and when the WSR season racing starts, your
opponents' clubs don't really matter. The league is supposed to be about
determining who the best racer on the planet is, but it lacks the storyline and
general sports drama to make that search compelling. Perhaps including
situational races (like going worst to first or nursing a limping car to a win
over the last two laps) would have helped.
Grid 2's LiveRoutes system – where upcoming junctions are
populated on the fly to avoid track repetition – helps alleviate the lack
of drama, and is where this game shines. Not having a mini map during these
races elevates the heart rate a few beats and puts your racing abilities to the
test. LiveRoute races make you balance the instinct to be cautious because you
don't know what's around the next corner with the urge to drive as fast as you
Further diversity occurs in the multiplayer, which lets you
generate a playlist of races and includes new matchmaking for racers to tell
you who races naughty versus nice. It also also contains Codemasters' free,
account-based RaceNet platform. This generates weekly rivals and challenges,
keeps track of stats, and has a browser component. Like in the single-player,
vehicles are grouped in four tiers, but these unlock as you attain higher
levels, and the cars themselves can be upgraded (unlike single-player).
I like that Grid 2's multiplayer carrot tastes slightly
different than the single-player one, but ultimately the game – apart from the
LiveRoutes system – isn't the revelation that I was hoping for.
Codemasters has proven that it can deliver a compelling racing experience on
the track, but we'll have to keep on waiting for the next big leap forward.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.