Microsoft Xbox 360 (PC, PS3)
ESRB rating: Everyone
Review rating: 3.5 stars
There was a time in gaming history when crashing in racing simulations was avoided at all costs. In fact, real-world vehicle manufacturers didn't allow damage to be shown to their virtual cars in any game. Fortunately that has changed, and Codemasters capitalizes on this in "GRID 2."
While most racing games don't offer much, if any, reason to race beyond winning, "GRID 2" actually has a storyline. Apparently, Scrooge McDuck wannabe Patrick Callahan dreams of creating a new racing league, and he taps the unnamed star of the game to get the ball, or wheels, rolling. Players are tasked with defeating drivers from various racing disciplines around the world to recruit them for World Series Racing.
Ten different racing varieties are offered in Career mode, but surprisingly, they're all variations of asphalt racing. One would think that World Series Racing would involve some sort of off-road competitions or even hazardous rain or snow conditions. It's a good thing that the race types included are varied enough to keep things interesting.
Controlling vehicles leans a bit more toward arcade than simulation, and it emphasizes taking risks to promote ultra-realistic vehicle damage. It's much easier to lose control while skidding around turns at breakneck speed, but this also makes racing more exciting! However, I find it annoying that touching anything while skidding makes nearly every vehicle spin out of control.
That's where the handy Flashback feature that lets drivers rewind time becomes invaluable. With five Flashbacks per race, players are more willing to take risks without rage quitting in frustration! Five may seem like plenty at the start of Career mode, but the suicidal A.I. eventually makes me wish I had more.
Racing online offers much more than simple races or tournaments. In addition to the progressive 12-player online multiplayer mode, budding gearheads can compete against weekly rivals that are automatically assigned and participate in Global Challenges that offer nine different events each week.
While "GRID 2" may disappoint die-hard racing fans, it still offers plenty of high-octane fun!