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Race Driver GRID 2: The next generation is already here

Codemasters' new racer looks to the future

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Other small touches come into play on the second lap. Make contact with the environment and you won't simply bounce off like a squash ball. Both you and the world will wear the scars of the collision. In much the same way as you'll find bullet marks left in the walls in most shooters, you'll find paint flakes gouged into roadside barriers.

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The bodywork reflections are stupidly good (amazingly we couldn't see any loss of detail as the city's sunniest areas were mirrored on our bonnet) and they'll realistically react to every misshapen lump as your careless driving warps the metal into new shapes. We were stunned to see the tiniest of bodywork separations subtly vibrating in replays as we hit the top speeds, and even more blown away by the smallest of details reflected back off the moving part.

Damage isn't purely cosmetic - if you're in the wars, it can affect your drive...

Of course, bigger collisions might result in bumpers and the like falling off completely. Amusingly, it can spoil the progress of cars behind, Mario Kart-style, and slow them down if they make contact. Weaving out of the ejected bodywork's way will also slow tailing cars (and potentially you too on subsequent laps). Not that we'd recommend deliberately damaging your ride as a tactical move, of course. Damage isn't purely cosmetic and if you're in the wars your performance will be hindered with everything from busted engines to punctured tyres.

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OIL CHANGE

Yet all of this detail plays second fiddle to the feel of GRID 2. Underpinning the racing is a mechanic known as the Truefeel handling system, which is a natural continuation of the handling model that sets Codemasters Racing's titles apart from the crowd.

Powered by a 1,000Hz surface model that calculates the force of the car tyres on the floor one thousand times per second it translates every minutiae of road detail into a tangible effect you can see and feel. We ruined more than one drift by unwittingly whipping a rear wheel onto a rumble strip we hadn't prepared for. We even felt the change in feel through the pad when we steered over a metallic steam grating - a tiny detail isolated to just one corner of the racetrack.

Throw your car into a turn and it'll pitch to the side, placing more force down on those outer tyres. If you've ever driven a car too fast around a winding road you'll know precisely how this feels, and it's been captured perfectly in GRID 2: especially as we hared our way through a snaking trail beside California's coastline after the Chicago track.

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And what of the first game's drift events? They haven't been showcased just yet, but we're told that there will be plenty of events in which finishing first won't be the goal to aim for. Challenges based around 'skill', 'speed' and 'distance' and so forth are coming, and Codies are aiming to surprise us with innovative, never-seen-before events like Gymkhana surprised DiRT 2 players.

Forget the fact that this is the follow-up to the game we awarded a whopping 94% back in 2008; even without that pedigree our hands-on playtest would be enough to see GRID 2 zooming up our Most Wanted chart in top gear. Couple that to the fact that Codemasters are viewing the PC version's 'forward plus' tech as a big focus and we truly are in the presence of the next generation of racing titles.

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