The wait is almost over for the return of Codemasters' Grid series, and recently the company sent along a demo featuring the opening races as well as some later events to give us a hands-on taste of the title.
CAREER RACES (all screens are from races throughout the final game)
This race is similar to the first one in the original Grid (it's a quick urban race with some tight turns), and I attack it with the Mustang Mach 1 Twister Special, a powerful drift car. At the end of the race, Patrick Callahan of World Series Racing contacts me and is impressed with my efforts and the attention I'm drawing.
Indianapolis Infield Circuit
Callahan sets up a test drive at this road course back behind the wheel of the Mach 1, but it's less a time trial and more of a nominal drift tutorial. I quickly appreciate the power of the car and what it means to skirt around and over the edges of its grip. Given the long straightaway and deceleration needed afterwards, I notice the camera shake and vibrate as I get up on the brake pedal.
New Union Club Race - California Pacific Way
Once I settle into my new garage (it's a little shabby, but it's mine), I enter in my driver's name and select the difficulty setting. I accept the invitation to race the New Union Club in Cali. The race takes place on a somewhat narrow road along the California coast, and thus there aren't a lot of opportunities to pass. Here the AI shows up by blocking some of my attempts to overtake.
I also use the revamped flashback feature, which lets you rewind a portion of the race to do over. It's quicker to use since it automatically starts rewinding from the moment you select it. All you have to do is hit triangle (Y on the Xbox 360) at any point to resume the race.
The game's damage system (I'm racing on full damage) ranges from cosmetic dings to handling-affecting knocks, and all the way up to terminal damage. I get the game over screen a few times after blasting my car into the side of some roadside cliffs.
After a podium finish, I have 5,375 fans. Fans will be the main measure of how you progress in your career.
After your California experience, the demo opens up some optional career preview events that will actually be presented later in the game in the final build.
Emaar Race Series - Red Bull Ring GP Circuit
This race is against the Euro Rand club based around super touring cars. The demo lets me choose between the GC Automobile GC10-V8 and Volvo S60 BTCS, and you can feel the difference from the earlier Mustang, which is also a RWD car, but has more weight swinging around in the corners.
Nixon Drift Series - Okutama Mizu Mountain
Per the name, this is a drift contest tasking you with racking up as many drift points (tabulated by the length of your drifts, your speed, and other factors) around some mountain switchbacks.
Rockstar Energy Series - Dubai
The cool thing about this race is that it uses the game's LiveRoute technology that stitches together a track's junction points while you're racing in order to create a unique experience. My race in the demo was seamless, showing no slowdown or ill side effects. The point-to-point race lacked a track map, which only added to the tension of not knowing what was around the next corner.
Alpinestars Elimination Series - Paris
Like in most race games, this Elimination race is pretty standard, knocking out whomever is in last place when the countdown timer expires. What was notable about it in this demo was that it featured supercars from the fifth WSR season. The powerful 4WD Bugatti Veryon 16.4 Super Sport is a handful at times, but that's part of the fun and challenge in this tight-quarters city course.
Grid 2 comes out for PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 on May 28. For more on the game's multiplayer, check out this previous preview.
LiveRoutes In Grid 2