GRID 2 Benchmarked
Brilliant speeder. Apart from DiRT and F1, GRID is one of the most important franchises from Codemasters. The second release not only promises more racing action, but also a better look. We squeezed ourselves into the luxury cars and determined the hardware requirements of the game.
For the original German article, see here.
In the first hour of gaming, GRID 2 looks superb. The quick start and the successful (though not always unerring) commentator draw you directly into the race.
The story of GRID 2 is not really innovative: A certain mister Callahan wants to start a global racing series called WSR (World Series Racing) and needs our help. What sounds like a career at the beginning, quickly turns out to be a dull alibi story. As with most games of the same genre, you finally only drive one race after the other.
Although the developer tried to diversely design courses and landscapes (forest, city, etc.), we feel that there are too few environments. Because of all the subcategories the menus are also not perfect.
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GRID 2 did not make any striking mistakes in technology or game design. Control is easy after you got used to the somewhat unusual drifting.
The driving behavior (game tested with medium difficulty) decently balances requirements and uncomplicated race fun once again. Fans of the rather undemanding Need for Speed series must be careful in GRID 2. If you are too fast in turns, you will quickly leave the course.
By the way, car body damage looks fascinating: In addition to bumps and scuffs, you can see car parts fly around.
In general, GRID 2 scores points with a moody atmosphere. You'll discover nice details like wobbling exhaust pipes, streaming panels of fabric, or cheering guests. In some courses you'll even see helicopters and trains. Away from exciting events, there is not much going on. Our garage, in which we repaint cars and accept sponsorship contracts, looks a little bit monotonous in the long run.
The same applies to the race modes. Although GRID 2 brings many surprises, e.g. Overtake (we have to overtake trucks to increase our bonus), it is mostly just about moving from A to B as quickly as possible and beating as many opponents as possible.
Thanks to the aggressive opponents, the events are still far from boring. Great: In contrast to other race games, the AI does not behave as much like a rubber band.
On request, larger driving errors are corrected by rewind. It's up to the gamer whether this feature is a welcome help or destroys the balance.
You can hardly criticize the graphics of the game. Although several textures could be sharper, GRID 2 looks top-notch. In particular the effects (sun, reflections, smoke, sparks, etc.) are high-end.
The sound of the game is also convincing. No matter whether you are driving over curbs, going past spectators, accelerating fully, or braking hard, the sound is appealing. Discreet music provides for relaxation between the races.
Like F1 2012, GRID 2 also features an integrated benchmark, which can be executed via its main menu (Options & Extras, Options, Graphics Options, Graphics Benchmark). The self running sequence takes about 2 minutes and simulates a densely populated city course, which demands a lot from the (notebook) hardware. At the end, the benchmark displays the minimum, the maximum and the average frame rate. We store the latter in our database. For a fairly decent gaming experience, the system should achieve above 35 fps. The game tends to stutter if the frame rate is lower.
The graphics menu appears to be sophisticated. Apart from many individual settings under Quality - Advanced, Codemasters implemented several presets (Choose Preset), which allow you to quickly adjust the graphics quality to your hardware.
The Video Mode menu provides further settings. It allows the gamer to adjust resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate and gamma as well as vertical sync and anti-aliasing (CSAA, MSAA or EQAA). Best of all: All changes are applied "on the fly", i.e. without restarting the game.
Unless you select the highest level of detail, GRID 2 is relatively undemanding. In lower resolutions even integrated graphics chips like the HD Graphics 3000 (Ultra Low) or the HD Graphics 4000 (Medium) achieve decent results.
If you want to run GRID 2 with 1600x900 pixels, high details and 2x anti-aliasing, you'll require a mid-range graphics card (e.g. the GeForce GT 650M). You'll need a high-end model like the GeForce GTX 675MX or faster for 1920x1080 pixels, ultra-preset and 4x anti-aliasing.
We briefly want to mention a few things we noticed during the test:
• The lower the graphics settings, the higher the influence of the CPU. As the benchmark sequence varies (not all runs are 100% identical), supposedly weaker graphics cards can range in front of their more expensive siblings.
• AMD has a clear advantage in GRID 2, which gets particularly apparent with the Radeon HD 7770. The desktop graphics card would actually be expected to be slower than the GeForce GTX 675M. A further example: The Radeon HD 7970 is significantly faster than the GeForce GTX 680.
• When using the beta driver 13.6 you can sometimes observe image errors (flickering smoke) on AMD systems.
• The Radeon HD 7970M again suffers from the Enduro technology, which decreases the performance to some extent, with moderate settings.
• The huge performance difference between Ultra and High is disproportionate to the visual improvements.
• Apparently, the integrated benchmark cannot measure frame rates below 12.5 fps.
Without doubt GRID 2 is a good representative of its genre. You can tell from the first second that the developers know their craft. Codemasters delivers a high-end product in terms of technology and game. After a dozen years with DiRT and F1, a certain routine has developed. The game lacks new ideas which would have made it outstanding. So, GRID 2 is not really a must-buy, but race game enthusiasts will still enjoy driving fast.
Our three most important test devices stem from Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):
- XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M(X), GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
- XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M)
- Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
- each of them: 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MB @ 1.600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series) & Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Used GPU driver: Nvidia 320.18, AMD 13.6 Beta & Intel 22.214.171.12462 or 126.96.36.19971.