The current console landscape has been particularly rough on racing games. The three pillars of the of the genre — Need for Speed, Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport — all have their roots in prior generations. Meanwhile, a stable of notable contenders — MotorStorm, Blur, and Split/Second to name just a few — have collectively failed to make much of an impact. Codemasters’ Clive Moody thinks he knows why, and aims to break the dominance of the big three with GRID 2, announced just today with a stunning teaser trailer.
Like Need for Speed, Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, GRID has a long history. A modern offshoot of Codemasters’ TOCA/Race Driver games, which date back to the original PlayStation, the first GRID arrived in 2008 and earned praise for its superlative graphics and thrilling on-track action, but may be best remembered for introducing the ability to “rewind” races when things went badly. Building on the strengths of the first game, GRID 2 promises to deliver the most dramatic, cinematic racing game on the market.
Speaking with GamesMaster magazine (via CVG), GRID 2 Executive Producer Moody describes his vision for the game.
“There’s been a huge number of racing titles that have been and gone since Grid, but I don’t think any of them have really captured that key point of racing games: the action on the track and all of the drama around it. We’re desperate to bring that back now but at a whole new level in terms of fidelity and levels of immersion.”
Key to achieving GRID 2’s fidelity and immersion goals is the latest version of Codemasters’ EGO Game Technology Platform which, if the teaser trailer at the top of this page is anything to go by, is more than up to the challenge. Moody sings the technology’s praises on Codemasters’ GRID 2 page.
“We’re pushing boundaries once again with what can be accomplished in the genre via new tools, technology and innovations. In single-player, split-screen and online, the next-generation of the EGO Game Technology Platform will power graphics, AI, handling and damage advancements that will immerse players in the racing experience like never before. Like its predecessor, GRID 2 will put the sheer thrill and adrenaline rush of the race at the heart of the experience.”
Rather than make an all out simulation like Forza, or a slippery arcade racer like Need for Speed, the team at Codemasters decided to split the difference — GRID 2 will “use real physics to hit a sweetspot between accessibility and simulation.” Most of the car and track specifics are being kept on hold for now, though courses set in Paris and Chicago have been confirmed (you can see them in the trailer). Races will take place on city streets, licensed circuits and mountain roads, and the game will include completely separate single and multiplayer campaigns.
Unfortunately, GRID 2 will be missing one notable feature from the first game, and fans are already up in arms about it: cockpit views. Despite being announced just this morning, the uproar about GRID 2’s lack of cockpit views has already been sufficient to prompt a reply from Moody, who starts by noting that “only 5% of Codemasters Racing game players ever used the in-car view,” and goes on to detail what omitting that view has allowed the team to accomplish.
“For example, we can author and run higher resolution vehicle models with more detailed geometry. We can feature higher resolution external vehicle textures and work further detail into our environment textures. We can dedicate more processing power to our improved physics systems, integral to the GRID 2 experience, and push other systems to the next level, such as particles and real-time lighting. And there are many more benefits.”
GRID 2 is arriving late in the game. When it launches next Summer, the Wii U will have been available for months, and new hardware from Sony and Microsoft might not be far off. That’s both good and bad. The upside is that Codemasters has had years to master the current platforms — says Moody, “We’re now incredibly familiar with the current hardware and have reached the point that we’re getting EVERYTHING possible from it.” The downside is that, once they’ve seen what the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation are truly capable of, gamers may find it hard to generate much excitement for any current-gen titles, no matter how good they look. How will GRID 2 fare? What do you think?
Ranters, what do you think of your first look at GRID 2? Will the game have what it take to compete with the big three racing franchises?
GRID 2 releases Summer 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.