GRID 2 announced: hands on and details. Summer 2013 release date
With no obvious response from Holzer over the first lap, I push on with the race and – finding myself in fourth as the final lap begins – focus on ensuring a top-three finish. And wouldn’t you know it, as I push too hard into a corner and try not to slide into a wall, Holzer gives me a nudge and sends me hard into the concrete. Goodbye, bonnet; goodbye, third place.
I’m still unsure whether this was an unhappy (but realistic) coincidence, or that advanced driver AI kicking in, but executive producer Clive Moody makes a strong case for the latter – revealing it’s his favourite feature in the game. “I’m pretty confident that if we picked a driver from real-world motorsport, we could accurately model them and transfer their personality into our game – so you could actually see and be recognisably driving against that opposition.” With the F1 games also under Codemasters’ wing, the next step for such a model is obvious.
GRID 2 details
Almost as impressive as the zealous racing out on the track is the level of detail off it: bigger events in the game have 30-40,000 course-side spectators excitedly following the action, and the lighting is astonishing. I’ve spent many bright afternoons in Chicago and the game mirrors reality almost perfectly.
And it’s not just in terms of visuals – drive under the el track as a train passes overhead and tiny sparks drop from the bridge above, while a glance at the sky shows flights landing on the correct path to O’Hare. The team’s keen eye for the most intricate of city characteristics is clearly unparalled.
Moody confirms that was a key aspect of the development process from day one. “It’s not just about that immediate action on the track. It’s the build-up to the race days: people arriving at the event, the spectators, the anticipation, that tension, pulling up to the start line when you’re going to kick off, waiting for the lights to go green, that bolt down to that first corner, jostling for position trying to find that gap, hopefully getting through cleanly and then it’s wheel-to-wheel the whole time: the action, fighting your way through the pack.”
And that eye for detail and obsession with making everything perfect means the cars look incredible. From Tier 1’s Mustang Mach 1 and BMW E30 right up to Tier 4’s even meatier Pagani Huyra and Koenigsegg Agera R, every one has both myself and fellow journos in the room purring at the prospect of future test drives – particularly with the game’s innovative ‘Truefeel’ handling.
The latter is the mechanic associate producer Iain Smith is most pleased with. “I’ll give an example of the sort of drifts you can manage in the car now. In Chicago there’s a double apex, a very right-angled curve at 90 degrees. You drift round the first one and if you’re really really good you can drift through the second as well, and that moment where you’re just about to lose the back end and pull it back onto the racing line [is special]. The handling system there is connecting you to the car, making you feel like you’re in control, whilst a number of other things like audio’s are giving you feedback too.”
The team also plans to revolutionise online gaming by expanding its Racenet functionality to appeal to not only race fans, but also shooter nuts – “look at Call of Duty: a lot of that is about longevity and keeping it fresh and making sure there’s enough incentive and enough goals to keep drawing those players back” says Moody – but they’re currently keeping specific features under wraps. Despite that, there’s already enough evidence here that GRID 2 will live up to the hopes of those who still claim its predecessor is PlayStation’s finest racer – and attract plenty of new admirers at the same time.