Written on: 21/07/2013 by diablo944 (16 reviews written)
Over the years I have played a lot of racing games. Every so often you hit a really good one, the type of game that you know you will miss when you change consoles. Those racing games that provided something special that made it stick in your head. I will be giving my age away when I say things like the Lotus challenge game from c64/Amiga era (or revs from an even earlier time). But from games like Ridge racer on the original Playstation, Driver, or the first Gran Turismo and all the way to the (not necessarily graphically brilliant or even decent control) games like Grand theft auto, the games stuck in your head years after you stopped playing, while at the time they were massively addictive. These games on the playstation, or games like Forza on the xbox were at times fantastic.
When the first Grid came out on PS3 it was missed by many and overshadowed by the likes of GT5. However, Grid was actually one of those games that deserved a mention here as it did have that something special. It is for that reason that perhaps the new game (Grid 2) is more disappointing than it would perhaps have been had the first Grid never existed.
It would have been better if they had called it something else altogether as it genuinely isn't the same experience as the first outing. So lets get the things out of the way that it does wrong and (for me at least) kills the game.
There is no Mirror. Actually, let's emphasise that :- THERE IS NO MIRROR! no mirror, anywhere. Instead it has arrows to show there is a car behind you.
There is NO interior view The official BS, erm, I mean excuse is that it saves on processing power. Or maybe that was for the mirror, either way you have to say - Really? So your views are limited to 4 now. Outside and behind close, outside and behind far, then bumper cam and what can only be described as sat at the back of the bonnet cam.
Lets touch for a last time on the original Grid, it had interior car views, it had a mirror (more than one as it had door mirrors), it had all this along with damage and bad weather and it worked really well. SO why has Grid 2 forsaken some of the best aspects of the actual game? beats me.
So what else is bad with Grid 2? The difficulty level for one. It has gone down the arcade route. Grid was always hard with a joypad and Grid 2 is no different in that respect. But it has become a flat out speed fest that feels more like Burnout than anything else. It feels like you have to use the rewind more than you want to solely as it penalises you so much for the slightest error. While the cars behind (that you cannot see as there is no mirror remember) that are obviously there as you know you just passed them, or you can hear them, or if you have time you can see the little arrow that says there is a car back there somewhere, they are at times prone to PITT moves on you without mercy.
The lack of a rear view Mirror is always going to be a killer for me. Not having a mirror removes any real skill from the game. You cannot realistically defend when all you have is an arrow (imagine if technology allowed a real car mirror to be replaced with a screen that just hinted where cars were by showing you an arrow?). It makes the game feel totally arcade and even the cut scenes cannot save it from that feeling.
The graphics are pretty good on the whole. The lack of interior views hurts the game in my eyes, but there were likely only a few purists out there who used that view anyway. I always found the interior view on Grid to be good but only with the steering wheel in use rather than the joy[ad.
So, graphically, it is good. The visuals are sharp, crisp and flow at a fair rate. Handling is pretty good, different cars do feel different. Loading times are a bit too long, but that is mostly because of the additional storyline/description videos you have to put up with as the game progresses. It is a shame that when you want to go and redo levels in the sandpit (or whatever the training area is called) you have to go through those same annoying videos, I wanted a quick go on an early level and had to listen to the 'racing levels are based on whoever crosses the line first etc etc. No sheet Sherlock! seriously, do we have to have cutscenes even when we are just having a quick blast around?
In fact, that is another problem with Grid 2. You cant just fire it up for a quick game. It wants to be a game you are going to stay with all day, while at the same time annoying you so much that you actually want to turn it off.
As I sit here I am waiting for a HUGE update for Gran Turismo 5 to download and install. Its odd that for over a year I havent touched GT5 as it was also a bit of a disappointment when I got it. But guess what? After repeated attempts to play Grid 2, and a desperate desire to like it (from when I first heard it was coming until it arrived at least) I have finally conceded to the fact it is nowhere near as good as Grid. More importantly, the gameplay and difficulty level puts it on a par with GT5 in many ways.
Disappointed is the polite version for how I feel about G2. I gave the game 3 stars, those 3 stars are based on the game as it is and for what it is. If you were to rate it based against the old grid it would lose a star. The reality is, I feel I personally wasted my money as I expected it to be Grid plus more, what I got was a completely different animal altogether with little or nothing in common with the original
The only way I will ever return to Grid 2 is if a rear view mirror appears in the game. Otherwise it has been relegated to the back of the drawer where the dust lives.