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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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    A Mini Cooper has invaded Gran Turismo 6 via a new update. The Mid-Field Raceway track has also been added, and its a new and improved version of the original track from previous Gran Turismos. The new B-Spec Mode feature has also been added which allows the AI driver to race on your behalf. Additional […]

  • Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and some playable titles to PAX East

    Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and Splatoon with it to PAX East next month. The E3 2014 build of the game lets eight players transform into squids in a race for “splattered-paint dominance.” Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will also be playable and featured in stage presentations at the Nintendo booth. Upcoming or newly released Nintendo […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium information seems to have slipped out early

    Battlefield Hardline Premium perks have apparently leaked a bit early, according to a post on Reddit. Over on the Hardline subreddit is an image which was take at a GameStop location, noting two week early access to content additional Battlepacks and more. Here’s the rundown: Four expansions Two weeks early access 12 additional Battlepacks Exclusive […]

  • Final Fantasy: Record Keeper arrives in the US this spring

    Final Fantasy: Record Keeper will be released in the US on iOS and Android this spring, DeNA and Square Enix today. The mobile titles allows players to “relive favorite moments” across all Final Fantasy installments and build a team of classic characters from across the entire franchise. If you sign up for email updates, you […]

  • Battlefield Hardline now available for pre-order, pre-download on Xbox One

    Battlefield Hardline is now available for pre-order and pre-download on Xbox One. You can pre-order it now from the Xbox Store and once you have paid for it, you can start your pre-download. Battlefield Hardline releases on March 17, and will be made available to pre-downloaders come 12.01am EDT. Check pricing and availability for your […]

  • Dying Light interactive video allows you switch between day and night

    A new video for Dying Light has been released, which allows you to hit the Z key to change between day and night. Titles Life and Death in the Quarantine Zone, the interactive story video showcases how the game changes between day and night. Daytime and nighttime are shown side-by-side but the z key allows […]

  • Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare out on PS3, PS4; PC delayed

    The Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]

  • The gold Super Mario amiibo is a Walmart exclusive

    The Super Mario Gold amiibo which surfaced via a CPSIA certificate earlier this month will be a Walmart-exclusive, Nintendo has announced. The gold-colored Mario amiibo will be released the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for Wii U and will run you $12,96 at 3,000 participating Walmart stores in the US. Along with […]

  • Here’s an overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    As new gameplay overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, culled from the Active Time Report, stream has been sent over by Square Enix. The video provides a look at the history and environments of the Kingdom of Orience; the 14 memebers of Class Zero; the battle system with customizable magic spells; and the ability […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video gives you a look at the game’s wildlife

    A new video shown by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata during the latest Active Time Report, contains a look at the game’s wildlife and ecology. You can watch the full stream two hour stream through here, or a smaller clip courtesy of GamesHQMedia below.

  • Lionhead ventures into the free-to-play space with Fable Legends

    Fable Legends will be free-to-play when it launches on PC and Xbox One. According to Lionhead, the one versus four cross-platform title borrows from MOBA games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as it will contain free, rotating heroes which will be added to a roster for a two week period. Once the […]

  • Win! 5 pairs of tickets to the Call of Duty European Championships

    We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway for the Call of Duty European Championships, taking place in London this weekend. The event takes place this Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Winners can watch teams will go head to head for a $10,000 prize pot […]

  • Republique Remastered has released on Mac and PC

    Republique Remastered, which was announced earlier this month, is now available for Mac and PC. The game is 20% off through Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $19.99 until March 4. Thereafter, it will run you $24.99. The Remastered edition contains all five episodes of the game, with 1-3 available now and the remaining […]

  • LA Cops coming to Xbox One in March

    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]