The Average Gamer

Eurogamer Expo: GRID 2 Hands-on Preview

It’s been five years since GRID’s 2008 release, but now Codemasters are back to show off GRID 2 at the Eurogamer Expo. I got the chance to try out two different tracks: a point-to-point race across the mountains; and a straight-up circuit race against eleven other cars. The two drives couldn’t feel more different.

The mountain race proved a brutal challenge. All driving assists were turned off, with few barriers to stop you tumbling down the mountainside. The first few attempts were largely filled with amazing crashes into trees and car flips. It wasn’t so much a race against the AI as a torrid battle against my own car. At around my third try, I started to get the hang of it. I began feathering the throttle as I edge round corners, rather than the foot-to-the floor attitude that got me in so much trouble. Slow and steady may not have won the race, but it certainly got me to the finish line.

Based on that experience, GRID 2 felt like an overly-tough challenge that only expert drivers could master. Driving American muscle cars around tracks where the tiniest error will be punished by a spectacular smash and your opponent driving off into the sunset. But then I had a race on the Chicago Circuit.

Driving around the track against more AI felt like the GRID of old, whizzing cars sideways around corners with flashy drifts as AI opponents ferociously smash into each other like bumper cars. The AI was way too aggressive, refusing to brake for corners, accepting that ramming the back of my car sufficiently slowed them down for turning.

This, again, proved frustrating, sending me from first-to-last in a six car pile-up without any explanation (I was using front-bumper cam). In spite of trying to drive like a human being, I was punished, finishing third. Then I watched a few other players, who drive like maniacs, seeing no reason to slow for corners, but prefer to rebound off walls and other cars along the way, and these drivers finish in second!

It seemed no matter how players performed during the race, a high finish is on the cards. This could be a construct of the demo itself, lowering the difficulty level to help players enjoy themselves, but it’s a huge juxtaposition to the point-to-point track. It felt like two completely different games, neither of which felt very rewarding. One is a mindless game of bumper cars, the other is a near-impossible race where you spend more time trying to keep your car on the road than you do racing.

Based on the tracks displayed at the Eurogamer Expo, GRID 2 is lacking a clear vision of what it wants to be; crazy-ass crash-filled racer, or insanely difficult expert racer. Maybe it can be both, but from what I played, it runs the risk of being neither.

GRID 2 will be released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC during 2013.