Just once I'd like to be able to sit down and honestly say I was wowed. Looking back over the last 2 years of writing for this blog there's a definite streak of snarky in almost every game I've written about. It's distressing...
I really want to be able to say that somebody finally got it right. I'd just love to see a game that made me proudly proclaim! " I paid $60 for this and it was worth twice that!"
Alas, it's yet to be...
Case in point, Grid 2.
I was a devout fan of the original Race Driver: Grid, so I waited with anticipation for its sequel. The original occupied hours of my time and consumed many more competing with my friends. I wanted to learn every nuance of the game and it was actually possible without spending a dime on DLC. If you drove a McLaren, it wasn't going to handle like a minivan. The tracks were challenging but not discouraging. The cars reacted the way you expected them to with the physics spot on. A Camaro was going to drift like a drunken sailor on a Jet Ski and you could be sure a Pagani Zonda was going to handle like it was on rails.
Having actually owned a few examples that appeared in the game I can attest to the accuracy.
Rarely would you get a car that was completely unsuited to a particular race type or track. It did happen, but not enough to abandon the game.
Unfortunately, that happens a lot in Grid 2 and that's just the first of my many annoyances with the game. After many months of avoiding it I went ahead and loaded up Grid 2 tonight to give it one more shot before declaring it shunned.
I have about 25 hours into the game so it's not like I haven't given it a fair chance.
My attempt to redeem the game led me to try a few global challenge events. In one I was asked to drive in one of my (least) favorite types of events called overtake.
In case you don't know, "Overtake" is best described as a commute on steroids. The whole idea is to pass a bunch of trucks without running into them . Every pass gives you points and they multiply with every additional vehicle that succumbs. The wrinkle is that there's a countdown timer that gradually reduces your awarded points if you don't pass another vehicle in the allotted time.
Oh yeah and if you so much as let a hubcap stray off the track you lose all your current (not banked) points and start at 0 for going "off-track". I won't even get into how the trucks can ram you leaving you with the "collision" penalty. I mean c'mon! At least give me a whiplash bonus!
That wouldn't be so bad except that you usually get the wrong car on the wrong track with an astronomical goal almost impossible to achieve with your available vehicles.
That is, unless you buy DLC packs.
See, Grid 2 has a bad case of "Freemium" disease except that the game wasn't free. There's a constant push to get players to buy more DLC for the game. That DLC is almost always in the form of a selection of better cars. Cars that coincidentally (NOT) are perfectly suited for the event unlike the sad examples you have available otherwise. I've literally seen events that had all but one vehicle labeled as an "add-on." (DLC)
Of course devotees would argue that you could always upgrade or buy better cars without any DLC but it's a catch 22 since you'll be hard pressed to win any races without the right car and thus not have too many greenbacks to purchase that perfect ride. There's also the issue of some DLC cars being better than anything you could ever build via the in-game car upgrade system.
Bottom line, the game is slanted towards DLC and without it just becomes an endless grind. If you wanted to top the leader boards you'll have to buy every DLC pack available for Grid 2 to get the necessary cars. When you were done, you'd end up paying more than the original purchase price of the game! ($70)
DLC is supposed to enhance the experience not be a core component of it. Grid 2's DLC is largely composed of car bundles and maybe a new route on an old map. New cars are nice but you shouldn't need them just to play the basic game.
I've literally had a challenge meant for a McLaren with only the choice of a Volkswagen Golf to race with. Needless to say I didn't medal in that race. I've also had drift events where my only choice of car was the aforementioned Mercedes SLR or McLaren road racer. Two cars that were explicitly designed NOT to kick their tails out! Grid 2 at least got the physics right on that one.
So it's back to the shelf for Grid 2. It's not fun anymore. The first few weeks were amusing but once I tired of the pretty scenery it got to be a grind. The real problem is, the game is all glitter and no gold. Even my regular LAN party buddies have given up on the game choosing instead to go back to the original game to satisfy that need for speed.
I'm really tired of being disappointed. I'd honestly like a game to be worth its purchase price but few are. Think about this. If a publisher can slap a $60 pre-order price and then give away $15 of DLC then the game is overpriced. It really is that simple.
I'm probably at least a decade older than most people who write about games which means I have a lot more patience and spend a lot more time evaluating my game purchases. Loyalty has a lot to do with that and lately I feel a bit betrayed.
I'll gladly plunk down a few extra greenbacks to extend the fun but one of the reasons I have yet to buy Battlefield 4 (aside from the price) is the money machine it's become. BF4 is about the multiplayer and you're not going to have much fun for very long without paying EA for DLC.
Truth be told I'll probably buy Call of Duty: Ghosts first simply because I know the story is good and the co-op won't require me to buy any DLC. Activision is no better than EA in it's DLC schemes but at least I'll get my money's worth out of the purchase of the core game.
That's the failure of the "DLC first" strategy.