GRID 2 (Steam)

I have very fond memories of the original GRID. It helps that in the first race, they put you behind the wheel of a Dodge Viper with a V10 engine, and the races just get better from there. GRID 2 starts you in very boring cars, like the Nissan Fairlady Z, and gradually puts you in better cars as the game progresses. Unlike say, Forza Motorsport, there are no car upgrades, nor is there any tuning to be done; the car you get is what it is. But the races can be fun, and the CPU opponents aren’t totally brain-dead. The whole time I played GRID 2, I thought “This is just a thoroughly average racing game.” And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing, if racing games are your favorite type of game.

Let’s start with what GRID 2 does wrong. There is very little music, to the point where in most races, all you hear are your coach and engine noises. A good soundtrack, however, can make a great racing game even better. Just look at Metropolis Street Racer or Gran Turismo 2. Unfortunately, the AI in this game can be challenging, and they don’t always play fair. If you spin out on a narrow course and you’re racing against AI, it’s unlikely you’ll win the race. Finally in the negatives column, realism flies out the window when you take on a hard collision. The cars just never become damaged to the point of being undrivable. In fairness, though, this is probably because car manufacturers are pretty strict about this stuff.

On the positive side, there is a lot of racing to do in this game. There are quite a few events, and as a bonus, the event types are pretty well varied. One of my favorite events is one where the layout of a track is constantly changing so that you can’t predict the next turn. Even with multiple event types, generally speaking you are just trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as you can. There are some cool cars, like the Nissan GT-R, Ford Mustang Boss, Chevy Camero, and some high end Mercedes’, Audi’s, and BMW’s. Once again, though, it takes a while to unlock the good stuff.  One more plus ~ the voice actor (announcer) rarely repeats himself.  In other words, they recorded a lot of unique dialogue. 

After knowing nothing better than having dual 1080p monitors running at 60 Hz on my desktop, I finally upgraded to a 1440p 165 Hz monitor, and I’m glad I did. The game is stunning at higher resolutions and frame rates. This is a thoroughly Xbox-360-era video game, but the PC port is fantastic and future-proofed, because it runs flawlessly at 1440p and 165 frames-per-second. My only complaint about the PC port is the frame rate stutters on the load screens. It’s a minor quibble and it has no effect on game-play. The music, once again, is practically nonexistent, and that’s a huge disappointment. I guess you could put Spotify on in the background or something, but I’d love some more original tunes in the game.

Codemasters is a big success story in a very competitive triple-A games landscape. They have consistently produced top-notch racing games built on top of unique technology, and have kept pace with much bigger studios with much bigger budgets. Fairly recently, they were bought by EA, so good on them for that. If you play only one GRID game and are deciding between the original and the sequel, I say go with the original. But if you’re desperate for more (and also if you’ve got a nice PC rig and monitor set up), check this one out. I’d love to see Codemasters tackle something like a futuristic racer à la WipeOut, but this one gets an A for effort, a C for game play, and a D- for music selection. 

3/5

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