The Good: Fantastic visuals, great controls, fun arcade racing, fast sense of speed, lots of tracks and race types, plenty of awesome real world cars
The Bad: Simulation part of GRID is completely gone, no upgrades or tuning of vehicles, some AI issues
Codemasters has been leading the way for racing simulation since DiRT came out. They were well known for the TOCA Racer Driver and Colin McRae series (which later became DiRT). GRID was a great circuit racing simulator that featured high speed machines that weren't seen in DiRT. Think of GRID as DiRT's asphalt cousin. It had a lot of great features and modes and that continues in GRID 2, but gone are the simulation type controls and feeling. GRID 2 takes a more arcade approach which is both good and bad for the series.
You start out with low end cars like the Ford Focus, a few muscle cars like the Mustang and Camaro, and even a couple of Subaru's thrown in. You won't start with the fast stuff right away. The goal of the game is to get WSR racing known worldwide and by earning respect in different regions of the world. You will travel from the US, Europe, UAE, and Asia. Racing games aren't really well known for stories so let's skip that part. Once you start racing you will immediately notice one thing: the cockpit view is gone. This is a real shame because DiRT was one of the first games to implement this during the beginning of the current generation of consoles. You are forced into the 3rd person view or the hood view which kind of sucks, but once you realize this is an arcade feeling racer you won't mind so much. You can drift easily into turns like and arcade racer and the sense of speed is great. There's no tuning your vehicles or upgrading them with parts, sure you can customize the looks, but that's about it.
Once you get over this shock you will start noticing the variety of tracks and race types. Most are typical for a racing game and seen in many other Codemasters games like elimination, stand-offs, regular races, and time attacks. Nothing really special here, but it's mixed up enough to keep you from getting bored. You can unlock new tracks and race types by earning fans, but honestly the game isn't all that hard. The AI is kind of all over the place so be prepared for the occasional frustrating race. You pick what kind of car you need based on an average setting like drift type or balanced type, there's also grip type which tend to understeer a bit and aren't so great for drifting.
At least the game looks amazing. The lighting effects are fantastic and the textures look great as well as the cars. The new smoke effects from Intel's new 4th generation CPUs looks great and the game even has a mode for laptops. Honestly the game can look pretty nice even on low-end PCs, but when you turn the graphics settings to max the game shines and looks spectacular. There's a good 10+ hours of gameplay here and the multiplayer is about average. I honestly don't care for racing multiplayer but if you want it you will enjoy it plenty. There's a plethora of cars to choose and the more powerful ones start becoming available later on in the game.
Overall, GRID 2 is a solid fast paced racing game with a great selection of cars to unlock. It looks really good, the cars handle nicely, and there's a variety of tracks and race types. The only sad part is the simulation part of GRID got stripped away for a more approachable arcade like style. This doesn't really hurt the game, but hardcore fans of GRID or TOCA Race Driver may find this a turn off.