Unlike most racing games, GRID 2 has a narrative that explains why you're driving these fancy cars--and why winning actually matters so much. But, Codemasters isn't trying to ape EA's Need for Speed: The Run. Instead, GRID 2's story is more about creating a believable setting--one that explains the merger of the game's various racing disciplines.
At the heart of GRID 2 is "World Series Racing," a fictional racing league that's attempting to make a name for itself at the beginning of the game. Its goal is to be the MMA of racing: to see who is the best overall racer across multiple racing styles, whether it be street racing, formula racing, drag racing, etc.
The player's role is to make a name for WSR by becoming the star it needs. In GRID 2, fictional multimillionaire Patrick Callahan has tasked you with going around the world, recruiting car clubs and earning the support of sponsors. From the start of the game, you'll operate from your suburban home garage, with access to the game's first tier of cars.
The first season of racing will take place in America, as you and Callahan try to make a name on your home turf. ESPN takes notice, and chronicles the evolution of the WSR through live-action scripted sequences starring Sportscenter's Kevin Connors and motorsports analyst Toby Moody. Presented as a real ESPN telecast, these vignettes do a good job of making the experience that much more believable.
Success will eventually lead to taking the WSR internationally, giving an excuse for GRID 2 to jump across America, Europe, and eventually Asia. Along the way, players will have to master the different regional styles of racing. Eventually, as the WSR grows, the racing experience will drastically change. For example, in the first season of WSR, races are rather no-frill events. However, in latter seasons, you'll see everything plastered in (fictional) adverts, and the tracks will have hundreds of spectators on the side. You'll see flares and fireworks--all to emphasize the WSR's transformation into a big-budget spectacle. Even your garage will transform, moving from suburb to city, expanding with every trophy you collect.
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While GRID 2's story mode may not be the greatest innovation in racing history, it does an excellent job of bringing together the disparate elements of Codemasters' game. And while the variety showcased in GRID 2 is commendable, there is a notable omission in an otherwise-comprehensive game. Unsurprisingly, off-road racing is nowhere to be seen in the WSR, because as Codemasters pointed out, that's territory reserved for Dirt.
GRID 2 will be available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on May 28th.