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Average User Score: 5.7Jun 4, 2013Codemasters have been making great driving games for decades. I still remember the TOCA and Colin McCrae Rally series with great fondness, andCodemasters have been making great driving games for decades. I still remember the TOCA and Colin McCrae Rally series with great fondness, and the relatively recent Dirt 3 remains a firm favourite. For me, being neither a casual nor a sim racer, I still love tinkering with Dirt 3 suspensions, brake bias and downforces. While Codemasters have always made driving games that sim drivers like to scoff at, they had a gift in pleasing both the most casual players and those who wanted the middle ground: realistic handling without requiring a wheel and clutch (stick shift) to play.
So I am very disappointed with Grid 2. I assumed arcade Dirt Showdown was an aberration. But I find the similarities between Showdown and Grid 2 deeply unsettling. Are Codemasters determined to market their games now to only the most casual of drivers?
It seems so.
You no longer have the option of turning driving assists on or off. Shamefully there are NO options to set up your car handling before each race. Nor are there even options to adjust sensitivity/deadzone etc of a Xbox 360 controller. At one point the in Grid 2 mechanic had the gall the say "I have set up the car just the way you like it"! No Codemasters, I was NOT given any option and this is absolutely NOT the way I like it.
The handling is so simple it feels to me like all assists are permanently on. The car suspension and crash physics also seem dumbed down. Even on "realistic" damage settings it is quite possible to ricochet down a track, losing little or no time with each wall impact, and with marginal effect upon a car. It was several hours into the game before I noticed it was still possible to write a car off (with Grid 2's "realistic damage" settings and only in single player). Even then, the catastrophic damage seems quite arbitrary. High speed impacts with walls at ninety degrees generally won't do much damage in Grid 2.
Much has been made by Codemasters of "Truefeel"; their new car handling system. I would suggest "DriftAssist" would be a more appropriate term. In theory each tier of cars are divided into handling categories of "Drift", "Balanced" and "Grip". In reality the engine rewards drifting left, right and center. Only the Grip cars felt remotely balanced to me, and even then I could still successfully compete with a "Grip" car in the dedicated drift events. That should paint a picture of the emphasis this game places on power sliding.
Another area I feel has gone backwards since Dirt 3 is the AI drivers intelligence. AI drivers seems either showed no awareness of my car, or sought to cut it off in a collision, almost without fail. In Grid 2 I never saw an AI car give way to my driver, which was a nice occasional touch in previous Codemasters titles. Neither do the AI cars seem to hold a consistent racing line, leaving many races to feel like a demolition derby, or a bobsled demolition derby with everyone careering off the walls of the track. The recklessness of AI drivers can be so bad, to give yourself the best chance of avoiding them, you almost have to use a third person view. I wonder if it is part of a secret Codemasters conspiracy to force everyone into using behind the car views.
Sadly the TV style replays, once a highlight of Codemasters racers, have gone backwards. Frequently there are transitions away from the action, even to static shots of the scenery where not a car is to be seen!
In a review it would be unfair of me not mention some of the good things I saw in Grid 2. Firstly, the teen style American commentary has been toned down slightly from previous games, but still not enough I feel for a mature audience. In custom events there is now the option to race any car on any track a welcome addition that previously was only available via mods.
Further, the Ego graphic engine in Grid 2 is handsome and wonderfully optimized for PC. Brands Hatch and the Red Bull Ring are beautifully realised. Tire smoke and dust look fantastic and the detail in the environments is impressive, so at least I can see where they have spent the system resources made available when they removed the cam. (PC users can thank the 512MB RAM of the Xbox 360 for the loss of cam.)
Grid 2 also features a wealth of advanced Dx11 graphic options to play with, as well as doing a fine job with auto-settings and presets for those who don't want to tinker. Again it staggers and disappoints me that Codemasters cater to every audience with graphic options, both those who want no fuss before playing and those who wish to tinker to their hearts content, but when it comes to car handling everyone is forced into the one over-simplified boat This is my single biggest disappointment with Grid 2, a game that has sadly been rife with them.
In fairness, despite my many misgivings, I know some people will enjoy Grid 2. But I can only hope Codemasters get back to where they belong, catering to both casual drivers and those, like me, who a… Expand