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Grid 2 single-player is like Gladiators with cars

First hands-on with the World Series of Racing

Who is the greatest racer in the world? It's a question loaded with caveats and conditions because there are so many different types of car. Racing say, an F1 car requires a different set of skills compared to racing an American muscle car. It's the main question in Grid 2's single-player campaign though, and it's one that's answered in a unique way.

When we last had a gander at Grid 2 Codemasters wasn't yet ready to reveal the campaign mode, instead showing off a couple of standard races (albeit impressive ones) using the latest version of Codies' own EGO engine. As remarkable as it looked, the Race Driver series - of which Grid 2 is the latest entry, despite dropping the Race Driver name - has always been interesting because its single-player mode had an actual story rather than just a series of races. So we were eager to see what Codemasters had planned this time around.

Enter Patrick Callahan: a fictional, car-crazy billionaire who wants to create the World Series of Racing, a new unified championship bringing together all the best racers from around the world in order to answer that difficult question - who's the best?

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Callahan's vision for the WSR is to have the finest drivers from all over Europe, America and Asia to come together and take part in a series of races that cover a wide variety of racing disciplines - muscle cars, supercars, Japanese drifters and so on - so by the end of the series the racer who scored the most points over all disciplines can be declared, without a doubt, the best racer in the world.

It's all well and good having this dream, but Callahan realises that WSR can't take off until all the big racing teams around the world sign up to participate. That's where you come in. As a young up-and-coming racer, Callahan realises you have potential talent and so he signs you up to travel the world, taking part in various races while flying the WSR flag. As you win these races, local race clubs will start paying attention to you, listen to what you have to say about Callahan's vision for WSR and eventually agree to sign up to take part.

As you progress through each 'year' in the game you see WSR grow steadily, both in terms of structure and spectacle. In the first year the competition is still in its infancy - nobody's heard of it, barely anyone's heard of you and the whole thing is still a dream in Callahan's head. He asks you to travel around America first, attracting the various racing clubs there. By the end of the first year the debut WSR series takes place.

We were shown an early WSR race. It's fairly modest - the only racers involved are American, the only sponsors are the ones racers voluntarily add to their cars and there's a slight smattering of spectators dotted around.

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As the years progress, then, you're expected to travel to Europe and Asia, signing up more racing clubs from around the world and building WSR from a crazy billionaire's dream into a prime-time racing event. We were later shown a race four years in, set in Chicago. By this point in the game, WSR has become a huge deal, with thousands of fans crowded round the track, fireworks in the sky and masses of sponsorship hoardings lining the circuit.

The growth of WSR is also illustrated through Codemasters' deal with ESPN. At various points in the story you'll see pre-recorded clips of ESPN Sportscenter starring real-life host Kevin Connors and motorspots analyst Toby Moody. As the story progresses they'll cover the growth of WSR, while your own fanbase also gets bigger at the same time.

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