Review: GRID2

Take GRID2 online and you’ve got plenty to be trying out. The big news here is Racenet, the online challenge system which has been in place for the past few Codemasters racing games but has now been unleashed in full for GRID players. Using a clever rivals system you’re pitched against various other players around the world and set a series of challenges to compete in. You can even set one of your random rivals to match certain conditions such as location or ability, as well as inviting in up to four friends to play against, so there’s little danger of you getting annoyed with always having absurdly good players to lose against. The set of events are changed weekly, and give you a wide range of locations and styles to test your skills – timed laps, drifts, checkpoints and overtakes (shudder) are all present and correct with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs if you’re good enough, but you’ll be more focused on beating your friends. Medals are just a pretty bonus…

Racenet is surprisingly addictive. There’s loads to do each week, and the determination to go one better than everyone on your friends list is very powerful indeed, almost enough to make you forget there’s more direct competition to be had elsewhere using the online playlists. Fans of the DIRT games will recognise the relevance of the playlists, giving pre-assigned sets of events to play against others. The playlists are varied enough to ensure you won’t repeat the same event twice very often, so once you find yourself in a decent lobby it’s very easy to lose a lot of time in the playlists. There are three playlists to try out – one giving you a bit of everything, another offering just races and a third containing the score-based events. Which lobby you end up in will depend on another new feature though – your impact rating.


One main gripe with all racing games is that playing online can get quite chaotic. Fans of the original GRID will remember only too well the despair you feel when someone’s going the wrong way round the track, or decides to ignore the idea of braking at the first corner. Overly aggressive driving is always an issue for those who want to race fairly (it’s no accident that F1 2012 has a trophy available for completing a race online without hitting anyone…) so a system which tracks your driving, records when you cause crashes or do something to ruin other players’ races would come in handy. And so it proves with the impact rating, which places a coloured exclamation mark next to your name in the lobby. Those with a white or green icon are the good guys – those who stay out of trouble, race fairly and avoid carnage whenever they can. Those with an amber or red icon have been a little more close-quarters in recent races, and are worth steering clear of if they’re behind you on the starting grid. In theory, if you race clean and get a white rating you won’t even see the red or amber drivers because they’ll be in their own lobbies smashing the hell out of each other. It works very well once you’ve gained your rating, but by starting off your online journey with an amber rating you get dropped into some pretty crazy races where avoiding contact is very tough indeed, and with the system still needing some tweaking there are a few occasions when your rating will drop despite you being shoved into a wall several times during the races. It’s a brilliant system in theory, and it’ll always be tough to perfectly determine whose fault the contact was, but a little fine tuning will turn a currently impressive system into one of the best racing game additions we’ve ever seen.

You can always set up a custom lobby of course – these let you determine your own rules, but you’ll be earning far less XP and cash as a result, and we all know what points make… prizes! There are two reward systems running side by side – each event earns you cash and XP, and they do quite different jobs. You’ll need cash to deal with your vehicles; you’re only given a couple of cars to start with so saving up to buy others is vital. Not only that, but you can upgrade your existing cars too, making them slightly quicker or handle better than the stock version. This sounds like it’d be quite annoying when you’re starting out, but even finishing mid-pack in a full lobby a few times gives you enough cash to buy and partly upgrade a lower tier car, and if you’ve got some decent skills you can probably compete with the upgraded cars without spending any cash. The differences aren’t massive and can definitely be overcome with some clever driving. Your cash can also go towards designing the car, with custom liveries and colours all being premium options to spend your hard earned money on to make your ride look fancier than the others on the grid. You even get a cash bonus if you have a good impact rating, making cleaner racing even more enticing. With all those bases covered, you might be wondering why bother with XP. As you’d expect, your XP is linked to a level, which in turn is linked to what is available to buy with your cash. Liveries, sponsors, colours and the cars themselves are all level-locked, so if you want the full selection you’ll need to start leveling up and earning the right to drive the better options. It’s a system which shouldn’t work in a racing game, but the incentives to reach the next level and buy that nice looking BMW mean there’s that brilliant “just one more go…” aspect.


As an online system it works really well. There are things we’d like to see – playlists which force you into one-make racing with identical cars would be good to even out the playing field a bit, although when we contacted Codemasters about their future plans they did tell us they were dreaming up new online modes to add in later down the line so hopefully we’ll see more options. There’s also some rough slow-down when things get out of hand during a mighty pileup, but being able to use Flashback online is a nice touch, resetting you back a couple of seconds while the race carries on around you – you lose time obviously, but it can sometimes be quicker than reversing out of a barrier and turning round again.

Generally then, GRID2 is a huge success. It’s not the perfect racing game I was desperately hoping it would be, but it’s certainly one of the best racers currently available. There’s a massive amount for you to be doing, the racing is always fast and intense and there’s so much to try out online it could quite conceivably keep you going for months – even longer once a few of your friends pick it up. Not everyone will love it as much as I did, certainly those looking for a sim racer, but invest some time to learn the various handling styles and you’ll keep coming back for more time and time again. Excellent stuff.

Reviewed on PS3

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