On May 28th the sequel to BAFTA award winning racing game GRID (or Race Driver: GRID to give it its full name) will hit the shelves. The new one's got a fitting title - GRID 2 - and if you're interested in the new-breed of racing games that straddle realistic simulator and crash, bang, wallop arcade, you could be in for a treat.
The game is set so you, the player, start from the very bottom of racing. But are quickly spotter by an entrepreneurial and ambitious visionary called Patrick Callaghan has faith in your driving ability and needs you to help promote his big Dragons Den idea: World Series of Racing. Patrick Callaghan is to WSR what Bernie Ecclestone is to F1 - just with less of a face (you never see him). WSR is Patrick's big plan for a UFC-style world championship, but for cars.
In UFC opponents come from different martial arts backgrounds to kick/punch/choke/all of the above each other. WSR works on the same principle, but less Karate Kid and more Seb Vet. You travel around the world taking part in various events: elimination street races in Barcelona, proper circuit races round tracks such as Brands Hatch and the Red Bull Ring, and we're pretty sure that there will be some form of drifting somewhere along the line, probably in Asia.
You race round the world in an act of pork-barrel politics: promoting Patrick's idea while proving your skill behind the wheel, taking on various drivers of different abilities and specialties. It starts off all very grass roots, but then as you become more popular, you get bigger garages, better cars and more sponsorship. To the point where the actual ESPN Sports Centre team discuss your racing and progress in the WSR.
‘But doesn't this already exist in real life? That Race of Champions thingy-ma-bob?!', you cry. In theory, yes. But Grid takes the format of letting the best drivers in the world from different disciplines compete against each other and extends it from a couple of tight laps around a football stadium, to full blown race tracks, city streets and point to point races across amazing scenery.
There's not a definitive car list yet. But we've seen Pagani Huayras, BAC Monos, McLaren MP4-12Cs, Toyota GT86s/BRZs, Nissan Skylines, classic Mustangs, Camaros and... Alfa Giuliettas. So a varied bunch, and there's plenty more to come. All of them are customizable and utilise Codemaster's ‘True Feel' physics engine.
This isn't like a hardcore simulator's physics engine like GT5, but a mix of genuine car feel and realism that's been slightly softened. Newcomers with no car knowledge won't get their understeers and oversteers mixed up and throw their controllers on the floor in confusion and anger screaming ‘THIS IS TOO HARD!'. If you're a petrolhead you'll relate to some of the handling, but if you're a n00b, you'll also be able to win a race straight out of the bag.