Grid 2 review


May 4, 2013

There's something excessively, charmingly melodramatic about American motorsports. When much-loved Brazilian Tony Kanaan took Sunday's Indy 500, it wasn't enough that he'd broken a 12-year duck in a race that saw 68 lead changes, nor that it was the fastest run in the event's 97-year history. Part of broadcaster ESPN's grand narrative revealed that, nine years earlier, Kanaan had given his good luck charm to an Indianapolis girl preparing for a life-and-death operation. On the eve of this year's race, he received a package that contained the charm and a simple note: "Here's your good luck charm back. You take it and win the Indianapolis 500."

When Kanaan, still soaked in the celebratory pint of milk as he stood in his cockpit, lifted the charm from the pocket of his overalls, it was an undoubtedly touching moment, and one that spoke of the pageantry and emotion that define US sport. Codemasters has been leaning on that attitude more and more heavily in its racing games - and with Grid 2, the UK studio's American accent has become so pronounced that it's screaming in your ear.

This is a racing game that's all about drama. It's there in the moody mist hanging over the Californian hills that house point-to-point races. It's there in the stirring soundtrack that kicks in during the last lap of a sprint around the streets of Chicago. It's there in the overstated rumble and roar of its garage, and it's absolutely explicit in the new partnership with ESPN, with its narrative that threads through all of Grid 2's disparate parts. The problem is, Codemasters' quest for the spectacular has left Grid losing more than it gains.

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