GRID 2 announced: hands on and details. Summer 2013 release date

After a four year absence, Codemasters’ premier racier GRID 2 is heading back to PS3 – but has the extended wait for its return been worth it?

Begin a sentence with the phrase ‘best PlayStation racer ever’ and tradition dictates that the words ‘Gran’ and ‘Turismo’ must follow shortly after. At least, that was always the case until Race Driver GRID scorched into view four years ago, wowing car junkies with super-accessible but tough to master handling (a cliché, perhaps, but absolutely true) and an obsessive focus on tight, fast, intense racing. Not to mention its ability to come out on time…

GRID 2 arrives

Fast forward four years – an extended development cycle because at the time the first game was released, the team felt its ambition “outstripped the technology and development processes” available – and Dirt’s grippier stablemate is gearing up for a return in the summer of 2013. And, having played it, we can confirm that every one of the team’s key values – excitement, exhilaration, variety, and unpredictability – is there in droves.

GRID 2 sees a three-way split in terms of the type of races available: track, road, and street. ‘Track’ is aimed at serving up motorsport in its purest form, with players needing to learn every nuance of circuits like Yas Marina (of F1 fame) in order to shave seconds of their laptimes.

GRID 2 PS3‘Road’ sees you pushing cars to their limits on long sweeping highways, like a course set on the Californian coast. And ‘street’ offers up supremely tense, edge-of-control racing through cities like Paris and Chicago. (Courses and cars are all based on reality, while drivers are fictional.)

It’s in Illinois’ windy city that I get an extended hands-on with GRID 2, and – to put this in the most unsubtle way possible – it’s chuffing brilliant. Careering around the course in a black Mercedes SL65 AMG, I’m immediately impressed by the blend of speed and subtlety – quickly hitting top gear on straights, but having to swing my back end out just right to nip around corners. It feels like a real sprint through compact city streets. Great stuff.

Especially impressive is the driver AI. Although fictional, your opponents have around 60 individual abilities and traits, like their tendency to attack gaps or yield to overtakes. The dev team say this leads each to have an individual personality, and I’m keen to test this out by picking on another driver. Step forward the Austrian A-hole (as nicknamed by, er, me), Ronald Holzer, driver of a super-swish McLaren MP4 12C. Which I shall now attempt to wreck.

As my third race on the Chicago track begins, I deliberately nudge him on the first corner. Once I’ve passed him beneath the 233N Michigan tunnel (an especially noisy section of the course, as you’d expect given its barely-above-head-height roof) I deliberately sway left and right – teasing that I might let him through but not actually doing so.