A fine challenge for the more serious racer, that just stops short of full-on simulation, writes John Walshe.

The latest racer to rev up to the starting line from Codemasters treads a fine line between arcade racer and full-on simulation, with the emphasis geared slightly towards the latter. So it’s not one for the casual racing aficionado, who will probably end up frustrated and grumpy after a few hours in its company. For the more serious racer, however, Grid 2 offers a decent series of challenges.

First up, the graphics are exceptional, with both vehicles and tracks rendered in exquisite detail, whether you’re careering around mountain hairpins or grinding your way through city streets. The sound is pretty good, although when it gets to a certain point, engines sound pretty much like engines, and no amount of realism is going to make much of a difference.

Grid 2’s career mode sees you taking on the role of a rookie driver, keen to get noticed and make a mark on the international driving scene. Your goal is pretty much to perform well, find an investor and gain fans. Thankfully, the rather linear career path pretty much sets things up for you, with the mega-rich Patrick Callahan keen to fund a new world racing series with you as the poster boy or poster girl.

This presents you with a host of challenges, as you progress through races in the US, Europe and Asia against some of the world’s elite racing clubs. The variety of races is impressive, from straight eight-car showdowns to one-on-one battles and even tracks that change dramatically in real-time on each lap, and there are also specific missions, such as beating certain drivers to earn their respect, while finishing inside the top three in each event.

So far, so humdrum, you might think, but the stunning visuals and excellent gameplay set Grid 2 ahead of the pack. That said, the controls are pretty unforgiving, especially for those used to arcade racers like Need For Speed, for example. A slight oversteer or too much acceleration and you’ll find yourself spinning off the course, more often than not, although the ability to rewind time is very welcome, while novice drivers will rejoice at the ‘visual only’ damage setting, which means that you can wreck your ride and still perform like Michael Schumacher.

Grid 2 isn’t going to rewrite the rulebook on racing, but then the rulebook probably doesn’t need tearing up in the first place, and what this game does, it does extremely well. It’s fast, it’s furious and there’s no sign of Vin Diesel.

Platform: PS3, X360
Publisher: Codemasters
Age Rating: 3
Score: 4/5

John Walshe