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GRID 2: bringing the race and a narrative together

Thursday, 14 February 2013 17:40 GMT By Phil Owen

Codemasters is going hard on story in its GRID sequel, as Phil Owen discovered when he saw the racer in LA. New screens and video included.

Thus far, Codemasters has kept GRID 2 pretty close to the vest, not really telling us anything about it other than that it exists and that it will totally be a good sequel to a revolutionary racing game and that it will contain a dynamic, course-altering function called LiveRoutes on the street races.

Earlier this month, though, I had the chance to sit down with some of the developers, including executive producer Clive Moody, and they spilled the beans just what exactly GRID 2 will do to hook players in its single-player modes.

What has been the overall objective in the biggest racers in the past few generations? To collect cars? To progress through racing series? To just race over and over and over again? In truth, most racing games don’t really have a hook beyond the simple thrill of the races themselves. And maybe they didn’t need anything more than that.

“A lot of [racing] games out there tend to lack a bit of soul. They can be quite a dry experience. We’re trying to pull this into something that’s a little bit more interesting [with] some sense of purpose.”

In 2011, EA tried something new with Need for Speed: On the Run, an arcade racer with an honest-to-God story. Codemasters wants to do something similar without making an experience that is perfectly linear. The company wants to provide real context for your racing activities.

“How do you find the best driver with all that diversity in the world of motor racing?” Moody asked. “That’s a question that we think is pretty compelling and that we’re really interested in trying to answer. If you take the world of sport in general you will see there are events that try to do this, try to answer those questions. Things like Mohammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki – that pitted Japanese wrestling vs. boxing.

“Or similarly the 100-meter race with Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson, when they raced to see who was the fastest man on Earth. So it’s not without precedent, but there’s nothing really like that within the world of motor racing.”

With GRID 2, Codemasters’ objective became to create such an event, a World Series of Racing, in a digital world so that players can at least imagine what such a thing would be like. As such, it gives players a concrete objective to work for, just as you would play to win the Champions League in FIFA or the Super Bowl in Madden rather than the nebulous satisfaction of beating the computer and buying cars.

“A lot of [racing] games out there, they tend to lack a bit of soul, you know what I mean?” Moody continued. “They can be quite a dry experience, and so we’re trying to pull this together into something that’s a little bit more interesting, a little bit more compelling, and actually gets away from that grind of doing event after event or collecting cars. It gives some sense of purpose to it.”

They don’t want GRID 2′s campaign to feel like it takes place in a video game world, and presentation is a high priority to Codemasters.

“It’s really important to us that we set this in a world that feels believable,” Moody commented. “We want to have the credibility of reality. As you see now, we’ve got a partnership with ESPN. We’re really happy to have those guys on board, because they’re the world leader in television sports presentation.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day, however, and the development of this world championship will actually be a part of GRID 2′s story, Moody explained.

“In order to make this happen in the real world, it needs a visionary,” he said. “It needs an entrepreneur. It needs somebody who actually spots that gap in the market and can make it happen. That person in our game is a guy called Patrick Callahan.”

As part of the presentation, I was shown a video featuring this Callahan character — who, I should point out, is fictional – and he expressed his vision for the future of the world of motorsports. It was a compelling speech; I definitely felt as if I was on board with his plan after listening to him talk about how he wants to bring together “the high-speed racers from the US, the technical guys from Europe and the drift kings of Asia all in one competition, to determine the world’s greatest driver.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to be a part of this dream, and such an event seems likely to keep me playing the game far longer than I would most racers that don’t have a true endgame objective.

“It’s really important to us that we set this in a world that feels believable. We want to have the credibility of reality.”

In GRID 2, you are a young up-and-coming racer, and Callahan wants you to “be the spark” that unites the racing community under this World Series banner. And so, Moody said, you’re goal is to work your way up through the ranks of racers in North America, Europe and East Asia in order to show what a true master of the driving craft, which you will hopefully become, can do for the sport.

“Around the world there are numerous clubs, small racing clubs, all of whom drive in their own locations, drive in their own types of car, have their own types of race events, have their own rules around those race events, and actually look as well,” Moody told me. “And his dream is to unify all of those race clubs around the world.”

And the player is his instrument by which he can accomplish that, by racing with and against them and gaining their respect, essentially. If you become The Man, these guys will follow you. But it’s a long road.

“From the outset of the game you start in the US, and just racing in the US,” Moody explained. “And you’re racing at club level against these individual clubs and within these individual clubs, trying to gain fans, trying to raise popularity. Once within the US you’ve gained enough fans and you’ve got those drivers on board, then all those separate clubs form together to race within these World Series events on this regional basis.

“And it’s a format that is then repeated within the game as you dot around the world. So season two you go across to Europe, again taking the same process.” Once you’ve conquered Europe, you move on to Asia.

As Moody described above, your fanbase will play an important role in your rise. “Your fanbase is actually your currency. It’s the mechanic by which you progress through the experience. When you start out in the game, nobody knows who you are. You’re the new guy. So you’re going to go out there and compete, and the guys attending those races are going to see what you’re doing and words starts starts spreading.

“This idea of wrapping narrative on it is a big step up, and a neat way of encapsulating the huge diversity that this game offers up.”

“And word starts spreading through media, and this a way in which we help drive that narrative journey for the player and the narrative journey of this concept of this World Series as well. So from the outset in those early stages, what you get is guys who go to these events, they are emailing, they are text messaging, they are posting stuff up on social media sites.

“It steps out from just being that viral thing on social media. Print starts to get a hold of it. Papers, magazines will start writing features about your rise through this world and also the rise of the World Series. It ultimately gets to the point where big media organizations get interested and EPSN coming on board and signing up for the global TV rights.”

What is written above is more or less what you can expect from the structure of GRID 2′s single-player component, and it will all sound oh so familiar to fans of sports games – which is in no way a bad thing, as the racing genre has long needed such a structure, and that it has a narrative is just a plus.

While all this sounds quite neat, I’m not convinced that GRID 2 will alter the racing genre the way its predecessor did in 2008 with the introduction of the mid-race rewind feature that has become a staple in subsequent racing games. Moody, on the other hand, insists that the combination of the single-player narrative and the LiveRoutes system, which alters the layout of a track from lap to lap, make GRID 2 yet another game-changer for Codemasters.

“This idea of wrapping this narrative on it, I think, is a big step up, and [is something] fans of racing games are really gonna love. It’s gonna keep the experience fresh. It’s gonna give them that real sense of purpose. It’s a really clever and neat way of encapsulating the huge diversity that this game offers up.

“When you take those three base forms of motorsport and then within those… there’s way over a dozen different race types we have within the game, and the various clubs will partake in some and not in others, so at every stage you’re getting a fresh experience coming up.”

Codemasters is still holding back plenty of details about the game – I’ve been told they’re mixing up the way Flashback works, for example – and we’ll have to wait a couple more months to find out just what those details are. But seeing as how GRID 2 is the only new racing game currently on the schedule for 2013, we’ll have to take what we can get.

GRID 2 will launch the last week of May on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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17 Comments

  1. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    Whoop! Whoop!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. fihar

    Cautiously optimistic.
    It worked for Fight Night, so I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work for a professional racing game.

    This is probably my most anticipated game of the year. Can’t help but wonder whether the narrative-based career mode could offset the loss of cockpit view.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. daytripper

    These game previews/interviews are real top notch lately, keep em coming guys

    Grid 1 was ace

    #3 2 years ago
  4. ps4some

    60 fps or gtfo

    #4 2 years ago
  5. mkotechno

    Cockpit view or GTFO.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    Some quality information, here. Good coverage. Unfortunate that the trailer wasn’t a bit more substantial, but that’s not down to you. :)

    #6 2 years ago
  7. stevenhiggster

    @4 The fps in their F1 games is shockingly bad on consoles so I wouldn’t be expecting any better from GRID2.
    You want 60fps it’ll need to be on a PC.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. manamana

    Tss, a racing game without cockpit view. Thanks codies but no.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. DSB

    @8 That was my reaction to the trailer.

    It looks like this but with no cockpit view, and slightly better details on the cars.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. manamana

    Must be that the cockpit view takes a lot more developement time, so when they leave it out, they could be more profitable on a tough racing market. I guess also that most people don’t drive inboard. Me instead hate the inaccurate third person view. And the bonnet or let alone the bumper view. Dirt3 is still spinning quite often just for fun and I hope that Codemasters are long enough on the market to bring us a couple more Dirts.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. DSB

    @10 It seems they had focus groups telling them that only 5% use cockpit view. Even if that data was ultimate, that would still be a shameful way to go about designing games.

    The more realistic explanation is that either the engine or the consoles can’t support cockpit view while supporting the level of detail they want.

    So they’re exchanging the cockpit for a more detailed world and a bit of polish on the cars. Judging from the video it doesn’t look like it has brought them lightyears ahead if you ask me.

    Personally I think it’s losing a lot of immersion by doing it. For me taking the cockpit out of a racer is almost as irrational as taking it out of a flight sim.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. HauntaVirus

    Waiting to see how they tack on DLC, better not be like DiRT3…

    #12 2 years ago
  13. LuLshuck

    Not buying the game because it doesnt have cockpit view is sad as fuck, first person view is the way to go

    #13 2 years ago
  14. SplatteredHouse

    More like it, as far as video goes -a full on demonstration has been posted!! :D That sense of speed and motion is super!
    http://www.giantbomb.com/videos/quick-look-road-show-grid-2/2300-7041/
    As an observation, I would say that 75+% of the comments on that video (2 pages at time of posting) are people surprised/disappointed about the lack of cockpit view, with many saying they won’t get the game without it :(

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Lounds

    VW R32
    I hope theres a few more VW’s

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Lounds

    Didn’t they do this whole story thing before with Toca: Race Driver?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. ruckus

    “… alter the racing genre the way its predecessor did in 2008 with the introduction of the mid-race rewind feature that has become a staple in subsequent racing games.”

    Not true – SCAR Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo featured this as ‘tiger effect’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo_Racing_Italiano
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwqk6D5VhuU

    #17 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]

  • Halo: MCC “a black eye for us,” Halo 5 won’t suffer the same fate, says franchise director

    The development of Halo: The Master Chief Collection was of an “outrageous complexity,” which was one of the reasons it suffered a horrible launch. None of that will happen with Halo 5: Guardians, according to Frank O’Connor. Frank O’Connor, Halo franchise development director opened up to Xbox Achievements about the difficult task of developing The […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: weapon Reforging explained

    When House of Wolves drops in a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to change the stats of some in-game weapons. This process is called ‘Reforging’. Alex goes over all the details Bungie revealed about the new Reforging system. This covers the materials you need, the weapons that can be reforged and much more. Make […]

  • GTA 5 PC: control the in-game phone with your iPhone using this mod

    GTA 5′s latest mod lets you control the in-game phone with your real-life iPhone. Reddit user Planetleak wanted to see if he would succeed in getting his iPhone to control the phone in GTA 5. He did it and has a video to prove it. It’s not a mod per-se, but it emulates mouse and […]

  • SoulCalibur dev wants to know fans’ favourite characters for “something huge”

    SoulCalibur developers are probably working on a new game, because they’re asking fans to vote on their favourite characters. Project Soul, the longtime developer of the SoulCalibur series is soliciting feedback on fans’ favourite characters. The developer said as much in a post on its Facebook page. “Calling all SoulCalibur Fans! Project Soul would like […]

  • Jason Voorhees doesn’t look out of place in new Mortal Kombat X trailer

    Jason Voorhees comes to Mortal Kombat X starting tomorrow and it’s time to celebrate his arrival. Jason Voorhees, the first DLC character for Mortal Kombat X has been given the trailer treatment. Jason is part of the game’s Kombat Pack, owners of which can start using him tomorrow, May 5. Being an iconic horror character, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Dragonslayer DLC announced, free to all this week

    Dragon Age: Inquisition is getting a multiplayer expansion this week. BioWare has announced that all owners of Dragon Age: Inquisition will receive a new multiplayer expansion, for free. The expansion is called Dragonslayer and it’s centred around fighting dragons, hence the name. Three new playable characters will join the roster as you explore an all-new […]

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]

  • The Megalodon returns to Battlefield 4 with the latest CTE patch

    The Megalodon Easter Egg in Battlefield 4 may have been removed earlier this year from Naval Strike, but it has since resurfaced on the CTE with the latest patch. I’d make a Jaws reference, but it’s been done to death. The shark is shown in the video on the Paracel Storm map which was where […]

  • Survival horror game Kodoku has a new work-in-progress trailer

    Kodoku, the survival horror title from Carnivore Studio, has a new work-in-progress video available, showing you how the game is coming along. Announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita back in 2013, the game is slated for release sometime this year, and tasks the player with avoiding mythical Japanese ghosts using only magic and stealth. Thanks, […]

  • Current HoloLens prototype has noticeably “tighter” FoV compared to January build

    Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens is still very much in the prototype stage, according to various reports out of the Build Conference. Microsoft hasn’t discussed technical specs with the press yet as nothing is set in stone, but during a hands-on at Build, Ars Technica noticed the prototypes had a “x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac […]

  • Silent Hills petition asking Konami to continue development has over 50,000 signatures

    A petition to save the Silent Hills game has been formed by fans in the hopes Konami will change its mind and bring the collaboration with Guillermo del Toro back from the dead. Konami confirmed on Monday the Silent Hill remake from film director Del Toro and Metal Gear’s Hideo Kojima had been cancelled, but […]

  • Attack on Titan has a US release date, title changed in EU over copyright claim

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will be released under a different title in Europe, according to the publisher, and while a release date has been set for North America, the same cannot be said for fans across the pond. According to Atlus, a copyright claim in Europe has forced the company to publish the […]