There's no cockpit cam in Grid 2. None whatsoever. So if you're inclined to turn your fine-tuned petrol head nose up at those who play using unrealistic camera perspectives, this game will have you feeling like the very Tin Lizzie plebeians you so mercilessly mock, sitting on your throne of scrapped exhausts. But that shouldn't put you off.
While the lack of a cockpit view is a definite shame, Grid 2 still manages to provide exhilarating racing across a huge variety of competitive disciplines. It's very similar to the original, and those already invested in the series will quickly realise that Grid 2 plays it pretty safe, but the quality of content on offer here is high despite the reserved delivery.
Split across three continents, Grid 2's campaign structure is bog standard. You start with nothing - no fans, cash or cars - and gradually work your way through the World Series Racing table, earning new rides and budding followers that boost your championship standings. The structure itself is tried and tested, and Grid 2 is impressively sizeable, but the main events are punctuated with awkward real-life mocked-up ESPN interviews that try to give some real life context to the spectacle.
There are computers displaying Q&A sessions with your driver, and other stuff that forces the LOLs of today's technological world in your unsuspecting face. It's all stilted and completely unnecessary to what Grid 2 does as a game. We just want to drive fast cars, mate.
The event structure is tightly-knit at first, filtering you through a limited number of events to curate amass cars and progress to the more substantial tiers, but there's enough diversity in the actual racing to keep things interesting. Standard races in the bustle of US and Europe are accompanied by familiar, exclusively Asian disciplines like Drift, which is more focused on slick sideways control of the car, rather than point-to-point apex accuracy. Unsurprisingly, every location looks absolutely gorgeous. Codies' games have started thinning the graphical jumps between new games thanks to the Xbox's processing ceiling, but Grid 2 is still a remarkable looking racer.
In order to maximize your driving performance, it's important to pick the right class of car. Pick a grip car for a drift event and you'll have a hard time getting any rubber burning, whilst driving a drift ride for a blazing street chase through Miami will get you stuck spinning in circles instead of stood proudly on the podium. The grip and drift classes are the main distinction between handling, but every car - there are a lot of them - has its own nuances you can experiment with on the track. All told, the handling is spot on across the board, and it balances fun, speed and precision better than any other arcade racer out there.
The new Live Routes mode removes the mini-map entirely, randomly generating courses as you race. This ramps up the challenge by forcing you to race without being able to anticipate where you'll be turning next. Having to balance your racing ruthlessness with more generous use of the brake pedal makes for tougher victories. These events are balanced really well throughout the campaign, and aren't overused to the point where it becomes a gimmick. We're still debating whether Live Routes genuinely generates tracks as you go, though - pretty sure the obscuration of the mini-map is the magic here.
Everything extends online, which makes Grid 2's multiplayer one of the best and largest in the business. There's a ranking system, a modified flashback function, and all of the modes from the campaign. It's familiar, but the fact the single player is lifted wholesale gives the multiplayer the longevity and variety it needs to be a fantastic portion of the game. Most importantly, it's pure fun.