Hands-On: GRID 2

A happy coincidence. I had recently installed Grid, having never played it before and feeling a craving for velocity. I’d gently eased myself into the world of cars wot drift when Codemasters appeared in my inbox, offering a preview code for the sequel. Before playing Grid, I hadn’t spent a great deal of time with any racing game for a couple of years, but the series seems to be pitched at those, like me, who want something more complex than a kart game but less intricate than a sim. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre – and we’re off.

Even when I’m inside a boxy nightclub at 3AM, just as somebody slips Blue Monday onto the graveyard end of the playlist, I’m more likely to have a need for cold beer than a need for speed, so when racing mogul Patrick Callahan approached me, I had to blink the sleep from my eyes and confess that I may not be the right man for the job.

“Mr Callahan, I’m sure that your all-new World Series Racing will be very zippy and exciting, but even though I passed my test fourteen years ago, I really struggled with reverse parking and, if I can be absolutely honest here, I sometimes get the fear when I accidentally find myself in the fast lane on the motorway.”

“I’ve had my eye on you for some time, kid. I’ve seen your Youtube videos and I think you’ve got what it takes.”

“Why were you looking for me on Youtube? If I feature in any Youtube videos, I’m probably dancing or falling over, or doing both at the same time while trying to impress somebody.”

“I want you to take this super-fancy car and drive around a track for a while so I can see how far you can push it.”

“What if I don’t want to push it?”

“push it”

“I don’t know if I can!”


It seemed I had little choice in the matter. So I pushed it (the pedal) to the metal, and then I crashed into a barrier, marvelled at the crumpling of my bonnet and the smoke that billowed from it like the ghost of a machine. Then I hit the ‘rewind’ button to reverse time, watching the car reform like a rubbish Transformer, and approached the bend again, easing off the pedal this time, drifting slightly and then accelerating when the angle was right, leaving smoke, treadmarks and a squeal of satisfaction in the air.

Here’s the thing – I like Patrick Callahan. Not as a man, because he’s an slightly creepy billionaire obsessed with cars and power, but as a framing device he’s fantastic. Even though his references to social media effectively form a time capsule around the game that’ll date it more precisely than its end-of-generation graphics, letting the player in the garage door at the beginnings of a multi-discipline, global racing empire is a fine idea. It provides a scaffold around which to construct an automobile edifice of variety, progression and competition.

My first race took place on the streets. I was proving myself, my feats captured on film and uploaded to the internet where the electronic eyes of Callahan’s minions might see them. I came third, which was just about good enough to progress, but I tried again anyway, wanting to win. Grid 2 doesn’t have driving aids, although it does have difficulty levels, and I opted for medium, which was a suitable challenge. I could jostle, take some damage, drive aggressively, and still succeed. The damage model can be switched off, so that cars still look like they’ve been rattled and rolled but don’t actually deteriorate. I didn’t want to drive an invincible dodgem though. Every crunch into an opponent or a side barrier caused my car to handle slightly worse than it had before, until eventually, on my second attempt at glory, I found that I was unable to turn left. I’m no mechanic, but that’s a problem.

The rewind feature, carried over from the first game, allows recovery from mistakes. Time pulls backwards and can be spun forward again when there is a window for reparation, and every time I use it I feel like a Timelord DJ, scratching errors out of existence. There are limited uses per race, of course, and some will prefer not to use it at all, but I find it an enjoyable way to learn racing lines. And to see how much Burnout style carnage I can get away with.

In regards to the latter, I’ve found myself getting away with quite a lot. While the voice in my ear – which creepily speaks my actual name – admonishes me for ramming my way through the pack, I enjoy the wrestling match that ensues, as both my victims and my own car threaten to spin out of control. I’m thankful, when the worst happens as it so often does, that he rewind function is there, because it encourages me to watch the crashes and they are impressive. Metal screams, glass shatters and glitches appear on the screen, as if the feed to the race has been smashed to pieces.

Indeed, it was those glitches that made me think about the contentious removal of the in-car camera. At the moment of a race-ending wreck, the camera moves in close, all sense of position lost among billowing smoke and jagged video artifacts. It’s probably the bonnet cam that it defaults to at that point, as the exquisite detail of the broken vehicles is plastered across the screen. I’m not a proper race car driver, so I prefer to attach myself to the car’s rear like a windsurfer, piloting it from behind and above, but I can understand the frustration of those who have seen a favourite/required feature stripped from a sequel. Codemasters’ explanation is that only 5% of players use the in-car view and it takes a great deal of work to implement properly for every vehicle in the game.

The preview code jumps forward in time, previewing events later in the career mode, so I had the chance to try elimination races (last car is knocked out at timed intervals), one-on-one feuds, and rally-like point to point races, as well as pootling around tracks and streets in time trials. Driving a Bugatti on the streets of Paris is far more twitchy and terrifying than throwing a chunky muscle car around the curves of a dusty mountain-side trail. The variety is more than cosmetic, although it does seem largely prescribed, with few options for those who want to tinker beneath the bonnet.

Multiplayer is a separate entity entirely, with much more customisation and its own stream of progression, segregated from the singleplayer mode’s narrative. I didn’t get a chance to try it, so instead I shall say a word or two about the AI drivers who accompanied me on my automotive adventure. They are well-tuned, fighting for position and unpredictable enough to require reactive driving, though not so unpredictable as to cause carmageddon at every corner. Each race in the campaign has a named driver and I was pleased to see that the chap in question isn’t superhuman – a target to beat but not an uncanny cheat.

Structurally sound, compelling and with a learning curve that I can feel myself ascending quite rapidly as I unlock each car or track – Grid 2 is precisely the sort of racing game I was hankering for. It cuts out much of the complexity but presents a challenge, both through its aggressive AI and complex physics, which react to every slight surface change and bump in the road. It looks great too, with a stylised Michael Mann-esque digital filter, which, rather than ultra-realism, is probably the best way to squeeze the last juice from the current generation of consoles, to which it is tied. I’m also pleased by the daftly po-faced but glitzy and enjoyable story mode, which is of far more interest to leagues, seasons and trophies. It’s like a buffet of Best Global Racing Experiences.

Along with the solidity of the story and the racing models, there’s also some unexpected cleverness in the form of the Live Routes trickery, which dynamically alters street races, shifting crowds and barriers to change the layout of a track. It’s a brilliant idea but it’s the technical wizardry that makes it function so cohesively that really impresses. I hope it’s used for more than a couple of big cities, although the implications, going back to my Paris experience are terrifying.

Arriving at the Arc de Triomphe and seeing that Callahan and his minions have erected barricades throughout the entire centre of the metropolis, along with all manner of gaudy lighting, I became convinced that World Series Racing is destined to become a dictatorship. What kind of power does a man capable of shutting down Paris on a whim truly wield? And to then alter the course of the race even as it is in progress? He’s a bloody maniac and no mistake.

I fully expect the final race to take place in and around his volcano lair. The winner will be crowned King of Cars and permitted to drive any vehicle anywhere and over anyone.

Grid 2 is out at the end of the month – the specific date may vary depending on where you live.


  1. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Picture two – that is not the correct line through Paddock, Mr. Smith.

    • markelven08 says:

      up to I looked at the bank draft that said $5552, I be certain that my mom in-law truley making money parttime at there labtop.. there brothers friend has been doing this 4 only about 17 months and just now paid for the morgage on there mini mansion and got a great Volkswagen Golf GTI. read more at wow65.com
      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

    • Pockets says:

      Probably a *woosh* moment here, but it’s Druids?

  2. SooSiaal says:

    No more in car view,no sale, but hey who knows, mabe in a later DLC it magically appears again.

    • Lagwolf says:

      Agreed… no in-car no interest.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      It’s not like that’s how you drive a car though is it? You know sat directly infront/next to the controls. So I can see the development decsion to make the player hover above and behind as a sensible approach to a driving game.

      • Fox89 says:

        You can always use bonnet cam, which gives you a more realistic field of view than in-car cam.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Thank you, this is why I keep changing lane and crashing into cars next to me. What a fuckin’ idiot I was hovering behind the car instead of being sat on the bonnet!

          • Fox89 says:

            Do you sit in front of or behind your computer monitor? Camera = outside car. Monitor = wind shield. Distance between you and monitor = distance between you and wind shield.

            Hey look at that! You were in the car the whole time and didn’t even realise it.

          • trjp says:

            The issue here is simulating human vision and how we perceive what we see.

            We may sit in a car and thus have a view of the dashboard, wheel, instruments, windscreen and side windows – but that’s not what we ‘see’.

            A driver focusses on the road ahead – looks to the side for mirrors/passing cars – glances down to read the instruments – looks further down for radio controls or whatever.

            When you change human vision to a flat panel of varying size located varying distances ahead of you, everything changes.

            In-car view on a TV 10′ away is retarded – even on a 30″ screen right in-front of you it’s unrealistic.

            End of the day, it’s about what people want of course – some people want the in-car view and that’s fine.

            Just don’t say it’s realistic ;)

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            What is FOV? My natural tunnel vision prohibits me from seeing anything apart from the very middle on my 24″ monitor that is 18″ from my face

          • Grey Poupon says:

            A whole lot of yelling about something that’s all up to preferences. To me, the in-car view is about immersion, not realism per se. I have more fun while driving with that view, thus I prefer to use it.

          • xfullboost says:

            no in-car view, no buy for me as well. of course its my preference, captain obvious. its also my preference to play racing games that offer a cock pit view. the amount of time spent on social media integration over 3d cockpit modeling is the #1 reason i wont be playing grid 2 till its dirt cheap on steam.

          • laotiana says:

            I’ve never liked to use interior cameras in racing games because it’s kind of less realistic than 3rd person.

        • nrvsNRG says:

          when i drive i see my wheel.

      • rb2610 says:

        Given the impending arrival of Oculus Rift, it seems that this is a poor time to chose to remove in car views. I can imagine that being one of the main reasons a lot of driving game enthusiasts would buy the Rift.

        That said, I imagine playing a racing game with a behind the car camera on the Rift would be an interesting experience o_0

        • King_Rocket says:

          I has this same thought since my occulus is due to arrive somewhere around Grid 2’s release date. Guess I just play Grid 1, Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 with it.

          And a question on the Preview, is that “no assists” or “always on assists with no off button” as codies have mentioned.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            I would expect people to play Project Cars with it as it’s supposed to be the game for the slightly more serious driver. And it’s pretty as hell.

          • Rapzid says:

            I believe the true potential of the Rift is not its ability to give you an experience that you’re otherwise unlikely to have, but the power to give you an experience you can’t otherwise have. I honestly can’t fathom somebody who allows this concept of its potential in the surreal to sink in NOT being excited about the coming years in regards to visual(I fully expect the idea of immersive imagery to replace the current 3d movie experience) and interactive entertainment. There will be plenty of Rift viewers not keen on real car simulations. Perhaps we will even see a resurgence in fantasy racers the likes of Rush, Beatle Adventure Racing, Extreme G, and Episode 1 Racer.

            That being said, I’ll take my arcade racer immersion INSIDE the cockpit thank you. I said I wouldn’t buy Grid 2 because of the bonnet view, even though I loved Grid, and yet here we are just a few days out and I’ll probably still fork over my money. Perhaps the Rift will succeed where we failed at putting our money where our mouths are at. In a years time nobody will take a racer without a cockpit seriously.

    • A.i. says:

      I agree, They want to make this game real and drop the cockpit view? Its like making FPS real and dropping recoil and breathing on sniping. I have seen Dirt deteriorate into nothing more than a arcade cashcow, it would not surprise me if Grid 2 will be heading that way too.

    • Keyrock says:

      ****, I already pre-ordered it, now I’m considering a refund. No in-car camera is borderline deal breaker.

      • engion3 says:

        I hate in car camera. I’ve played tons of racing games over the years (gran turismo series, dirt, grid, f1, nfs,) and I just feel a lot more in control outside the car, and you can’t see your BLUE NOS FLAMES.

    • Derppy says:

      I’m more worried about this bit: “GRID 2 doesn’t have driving aids”

      Does it mean all the GRID 1 driving aids are now forced on?

      I thought GRID (and DIRT) without any aids were the sweet spot, where driving provides a proper challenge and you need to break into corners, but your car doesn’t spin out of control for hitting a tiny bit of too much throttle like in driving simulators.

      I don’t care too much about the lack of in-car view, it’s essential for anyone with a TrackIR and/or multiple monitors, but for a single monitor the bonnet camera is way more efficient, even if it isn’t as immersive.

      The driving assist thing however, is the thing I base my decision to buy or skip this on.

      • c-Row says:

        I’m more worried about this bit: “GRID 2 doesn’t have driving aids”

        Does it mean all the GRID 1 driving aids are now forced on?

        It means you can play without a rubber.

    • Milincho says:

      GRID2 BayetasMod 0.3 PC – Immersive Mod

      link to youtu.be

      This mod features:

      1. New physics and car settings/handling for higher realism
      2. Immersive Camera Views
      3. TrackIR support
      4. No Intro logo videos
      5. No Engineer speech during the race
      6. Realistic used tyres textures
      7. Auto reset remover (free roaming)
      8. HQ Settings

      Replay comparision with Cameras 1-4 (no TrackIR used, although you can use TrackIR in replays too)
      link to youtu.be

      Replay comparision with Cameras 5-7 (+ Replay)
      link to youtu.be

      Replay comparision (9 Cameras)
      link to youtu.be

      Download 60fps demo videos here:
      link to rapidgator.net
      link to rapidgator.net
      link to rapidgator.net
      link to rapidgator.net
      link to rapidgator.net
      link to rapidgator.net

  3. Paul says:

    Yeah, after SHIFT 2 and pCARS, I just cannot play game that plays at semirealism without incar view. I am spoiled.

    • galaxion says:

      I really love the ‘helmet’ cam in Shift 2 the way the head turns as you approach a corner. This is the only interior view I have ever appreciated.
      With Occulus Rift coming I can see the interior views becoming really popular.

    • derbefrier says:

      I wanna play pCARS so bad. That games needs to hurry and release..

    • SuicideKing says:

      I played and enjoyed the SHIFT demo, not sure if i should buy that or SHIFT 2. Heard slightly less nice things about the sequel.

      I’m using a 360 controller, no steering wheel.

      • lowprices says:

        Only played Shift 2, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It looks pretty and has good courses, but the handling is really skittish and on a pad it had very noticeable input lag (though I was playing on PS3. Couldn’t say is that’s a universal thing). Also the cockpit view with the camera that leans into corners that people rave about just made me feel dizzy, though that could just be me.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Hmmm. Thanks. Probably stick to the first game. No input lag on the PC, at least. PC port for SHIFT was pretty decent though. Could fine-tune graphics and controls.

          Can’t find it on local etail sites anymore though.

  4. jellydonut says:

    Is this another one of those console ports where there are no car interior cameras because the toyboxes can’t handle rendering interiors?

    • Tacroy says:

      Huh? I would imagine that rendering the car interior makes it easier to render the game – it’s like a huge weapon model.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        @Tacroy Haway man, think of the graphics that would go into a speedo/rev counter needle rising and falling in a graceful arc. Also consider the texture of the steering wheel actually turning REAL TIME in response to the players inputs! Compare that to the hi resolution scenery flashing by, go on think! now retract that ‘silly comment’

        • engion3 says:

          It’s simply time. They don’t want to have to make an interior for however many cars there are in the game. Same reason Gran Turismo 5 didn’t have them originally. They eventually just went with a generic car interior view for all cars.

          • The First Door says:

            One of their original excuses for not including it was that they’d rather use the cycles required for the in car stuff on rendering the track decorations instead, from what I remember. Which is silly, obviously, because first of all that doesn’t matter as much on PC and secondly I don’t remember a time when I’ve ever been looking at anything but the road and the cars when I’m driving!

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      It would be an utterly perfect opportunity for them to make a PC port that does justice to their lineage and the expectations (5% my ass) of their fans vs. the limitations of the console release. Higher res textures, interior FOV, etc.

  5. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Weird, but I’ve also been craving a good arcadey/sim with in-car view. That perspective is important for my immersion.

  6. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I don’t like interior cameras, so there! *phbbbbt*

  7. Dimonte says:

    To those whining about lack of interior view, do kindly shut up. If you don’t have a triple-monitor setup or TrackIR thingie, interior view is unsuitable for “realistic” racing. And if you are so bothered about realistic interiors, you do know that you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference between race-prepared Ferrari and race-prepared Vectra, what with all decorative bits ripped out and all race bits shoved in, right?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      There doesn’t need to be any difference, I just want to feel like I’m sitting in the car.

      • derbefrier says:

        yep that and I also actually feel like I have better control of the vehicle when it a cockpit view for me its much easier to judge distances and turns in a cockpit view than a 3rd person view in racing games.

    • Faldrath says:

      Realism and immersion are different things. The first-person camera in, say, Skyrim, doesn’t really make the game any more “realistic”, but it does help immensely with immersion, and I couldn’t play that game without it.

      Same goes for racing games – I will not play them if they don’t offer me my preferred mode of immersion (a cockpit camera). And I will complain when a company that previously offered such mode in every single one of their games decides to remove it with such a lame excuse.

      • Dimonte says:

        Oh, alright, let me help you with immersion. First, get a really, really wide monitor if you don’t have one. Then go to your closest scrapyard and tear out a dashboard from something preferably very cheap. Then tuck it right under the monitor, glue/weld/tie some bits of pipe to it so it covers your monitor a bit, turn the in-game camera to bonnet mode and bingo, you’ve got yourself the best immersion lack of money could buy. See, I solved all your immersion problems, even those you didn’t know you had. Go on, now, be grateful.

        • Faldrath says:

          We have a winner for the “most stupid comment of the day” award. You must be so proud.

        • SooSiaal says:

          So, to immerse yourself in todays shooters (for example) I bet you go play it outside in your sandbox yeah?

          • Dimonte says:

            Nah, I’m quite fine with not having to wipe my helm visor of dirt and grime and having completely unrealistic and immersion-breaking ammo count display.

        • Barnaby says:

          Alternative solution, you ‘kindly’ stfu since you obviously have nothing of worth to add to the conversation. Obviously a lot of people feel like this is a valid complaint, myself included.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Well I DO have 3 monitors, and I also wish they kept the interior view in. Codemasters’ previous games have had it, and it feels like a shame that they’re just now cutting it out (“just now” as in for this game, not RIGHT now.).

      What the interior looks like is of no importance to me, the big thing for me is that driver cam allows the devs to do so many little things. in Dirt 2+3 when you drove through water it would splash on your windshield and you couldn’t really see temporarily. Also instead of having a reverse mirror plastered on the top of your screen (or pressing a button to look behind you), your mirrors are in their proper places, which I find adds a little bit more immersion. Oh, and in games like Shift 2, when you hit stuff (or get hit) your camera would shake around a bit, and I absolutely LOVE that feature! It makes races feel much more dangerous because it’s just 1 more component to watch out for. And of course – much like the hood cam – the cars feel much faster when the camera isn’t hung up above the cars.

      If it wasn’t made clear, I really like driver cams. And although I’m still definitely going to buy this game; I’m going to be quite disappointed that I’ll have to live with a hood cam.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      You better not be slagging off my Vectra.

    • The Random One says:

      God forbid people complain about stuff they’d like to have.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Yeah, fuck options and fuck people who like options!

  8. Steed says:

    Awesome, loved Grid and have been looking forward to this sequel, so far everything I’ve read has been positive and it’s sounding more and more like the ‘not quite arcade but certainly not a sim style racer’ of my dreams.

  9. Vinraith says:

    The only realistic way to race is with giant blinders on, apparently.

    Personally I’ve always thought an out-of-car view was a small price to pay for some peripheral vision, but to each their own.

    As to the game, I’m interested, but I really want to know if there are any required “stupid car trick” modes ala drifting, gymkata etc. I play racing games to race, not to slowly slide around corners.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The vast majority of racecars provide little to no peripheral vision. Certainly if you’re using any kind of head restraint (which anyone, racing anything at any level should be) you’re not going to turn your head to see what’s next to you (and you wouldn’t do that while racing anyway, since you should be focusing your eyes as far up the track as possible). The way a racecar driver knows that there’s someone next to him, aside from series that have spotters, is by paying attention to their mirrors.

    • Guvornator says:

      On the basis that Grid 1 had drifting i imagine it’s in. Though frankly the Japanese dockyard races were really the ones i could have done without…

      • Vinraith says:

        That’s exactly why I’m not getting my hopes up. I really enjoyed the actual racing in GRID, but the other stuff eventually put me off the game entirely and I never finished it. I keep hoping Codemasters will remember that racing games are supposed to be about racing…

  10. Snakejuice says:

    I’ve never liked to use interior cameras in racing games because it’s kind of less realistic than 3rd person.

    Why would I write a stupid statement like that? Well think about it. When I drive a car IRL I can look out the side windows to see what is beside my car, when I’m using 3d person view in a racing game I can also see what is beside my car. When I use the interior view I can only see what is straight in front of me, it’s like there is something seriously wrong with me neck!

    Maybe I’ll start using interior view when a good racing game gets Oculus Rift support so I can finally look to my left and right. It really is annoying to try and take a hard turn and being forced to look straight forward instead of at the road. This does not matter nearly as much in external/3rd person view because the FOV always is/feels much higher than interior.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      If my memory serves me correctly, I THINK most of the racing games to come out that have driver cams have allowed you to look around using one of the joysticks on a controller. Basically 1 joystick for the car, 1 for the driver. It’s certainly not a perfect solution, but I’ve used it in lots of occasions and it does work well enough.

    • fish99 says:

      Why can’t you press the glance left/right buttons to see what’s out of your side window? Works fine in every racing sim I’ve played. Most racing sims support triple screens as well.

  11. Larkington says:

    If you use your imagination you can still have the in-car view.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      :-D I see a Valerie Singleton mock up in the offing. Best I get on the Ouija board and find out where me Mum left the empty cotton reels and sticky tape!

  12. DeathCarrot says:

    I hope car handling and force feedback are decent, but the lack of driving aid settings doesn’t sound promising. Lack of dashcam sucks but it’s a compromise I’m willing to put up with as long as the handling is good enough.

  13. wodin says:

    I too prefer cockpit view in race games..purely for immersion purposes..I’m absolutely useless at race games though.

  14. brulleks says:

    ” “I want you to take this super-fancy car and drive around a track for a while so I can see how far you can push it.” “What if I don’t want to push it?” “push it” “I don’t know if I can!” “PUSH IT” ”

    I read that exchange in the voices of Adam and Joe, for some reason.

  15. Iskariot says:

    Yep, for me cockpit view it is. I like the way Farcry 3 did it. Felt good to me. I wish GTA IV had that.
    I am not a fan of track racing games though. I have played a few in my time, but in general they bore the hell out of me.

  16. Cognitect says:

    Leaving the cockpit view out of a racing sim because only 5% of players use it is kind of like leaving the ending out of a story-driven game because only 10% of players finish games.

  17. lowprices says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. Loved the first GRID. Got the sweet spot between realism and fun. Personally I’m not fussed about the loss of the in-car view, because I always use bumper-cam or behind-the-car-whatever-it’s-called cam. The in-car view always leaves me squinting at the road.

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  19. Heliocentric says:

    Steering wheel and a mouse in first person, that’s how I drive open world games.

    In Battlefield, ARMA, Planetside or GTA, but Driver San Francisco broke me with it’s feature of shifting.

    Grid doesn’t justify a lack of my preferred control/display method like Driver, but neither is it desperately required with it being track based (no one shooting at you and no need to navigate).

    But I need to ask myself “do i really need another Codies racer?

  20. strangeloup says:

    My interest in another Car Wot Goes Fast game (posessing any type of view) is inversely proportional to my appreciation for the sneaky Manics reference in the subhead. Good work, Smith.

  21. The First Door says:

    So, Live Routes sounds quite a fun addition, but it doesn’t exactly sound that new a concept. Isn’t it just a less explodey (I assume) version of changing routes in Split/Second?

    Part of me wishes they’d just design interesting tracks with fun corners, but if they do it right, it might be rather fun!