After the popularity of Racer Driver: Grid from Codemasters, there has been a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding the octane filled sequel. I had a chance to catch up with Toby Evan-Jones, Producer over at Codemasters to find out just what we should expect from the rough and ready racer.
So Grid 2 was announced a while back and players have had a chance to try the game out. How has the reaction been?
Toby: The reaction has been really strong. We have always known that the game has been hugely anticipated as it has been 4 years since the first title. Seeing everyone jump into the game is great, everyone is really enthusiastic and for us that is great to see.
What are the major changes you’ve made in Grid 2 compared to the first title?
T: As it has been such a long time between titles, everything has changed really. The other Codemasters franchises evolve different areas of the Ego engine that we all share. So both the Dirt and Formula one franchises have looked at separate parts of the engine as well as boosting overall performance. This means we can take advantage of the entire tech available and make a true sequel to Grid.
We’ve seen the DiRT franchise build from being a point to point rally trial into a whole different beast with events like Gymkhana. Formula One has also come a long way with some amazing technology behind it like the dedicated weather system. Does Grid 2 plan to take in some of those ideas?
T: The game modes available in Grid 2 are something we will be announcing in the near future, so we aren’t saying anything on that front today. We are keeping the mantra of the first title though; Grid 2 is still all about the race and the raw feeling of driving the car. The game is about the feeling of racing the car, everything else is secondary.
So the first game had some amazing crash physics that a lot of people enjoyed maybe more than they should have. Have you ramped up just how much the cars can turn to pieces when things go wrong in Grid 2?
T: We’ve actually kept it very grounded in reality. There are the options to have visual only damage and so on. We work with the manufacturers to make sure the cars deform in a realistic fashion. Depending on each individual car specification there will be different results as all the crumple zones are modelled in-game. We want it to be a true representation so it all feels immersive and like you would expect.
When talking about racing games, all the major fans want to know is whether the game is a true simulation, or whether it has more of an arcade approach. So where is the line for the team in Grid 2?
T: We are very comfortable with what Grid 2 is; whereas there are some games that are solely focused on simulation, we try to take a step back from that. We are all about the on track experience. We however don’t have any assists in Grid 2, we decided that after all of the development to the handling that it was safe to remove them. We put so much effort into getting each car to handle in different ways that we want the player to understand what each car feels like.
The key thing is to make the game accessible though. Even though we are taking quite a hardcore approach to the assists, we are also looking at tweaking some of the characteristics that make the cars too difficult to drive such as massive amounts of understeer.
So how is the progression in the game? Grid was open with its approach allowing players to pick and choose to take part in their favourite disciplines, is Grid 2 as open?
T: Well we are look at the progression of the game and the cars that are available at the beginning to the player. Tier 1, the beginning part of the game isn’t all about low powered cars. We have Mustangs and 200BHP cars so we are throwing people in at the deep end. At the same time though, the tier 1 cars are the more balanced cars in the game. Towards the end of the game the cars are monstrous and to get them round the track you need to have experience with the game and know how it works.