A lot of people think that there won't be an onslaught of major games coming out over the next few months.  Bigger games like Grand Theft Auto V and Lost Planet 3 are being pushed into the Fall, but don't sell the summer season short.  Amongst them is the latest racing effort from Codemasters, GRiD 2.  If you love racing games, you pretty much know you're in for something special.

The original GRiD defined what racing action should be like when it came out a few years ago.  Between realistic handling, a handy rewind feature and stellar graphics, it showed just what Codemasters was capable of with the right engine.  The good news is that all that – and more – is back with the sequel and we've managed to go hands-on with it to see how well it handles.

First off, GRiD 2 feels a bit more approachable than the first.  That's not to say rookie drivers couldn't get into GRiD but its learning curve took some getting used to.  With the sequel, we found a great deal of accessibility and the handling of each car we took control of felt quite natural.  Whether it was working our way around tight corners (in which you'll need to use the brake in a smart fashion by not letting up enough to sacrifice all your speed while keeping enough control to avoid careening into the wall) or gaining speed to usurp the lead from our AI opponents, it just feels right.  If you do screw up and make a mistake you can use rewind and save yourself the costly mistake.

GRiD 2 will also come with a wide variety of events, whether you prefer races on traditional tracks across the world or just want to barrel down the mean streets of Chicago in an all-out street race.  This will let you build your reputation amongst your fellow drivers, dominating each track while accepting new challenges that come your way.  Soon enough, you can be working your way up the leaderboards supported by Codemasters' custom RaceNet network.

The AI is a bit aggressive in GRiD 2 just like the first time around, but the learning curve has been bent back a little bit, so you can customize the events however you see fit.  Though you won't get the help of too many assistive systems (like auto-braking), you'll find that Codemasters isn't about to leave you out in the cold.  There are enough practice options and modifications you can make to feel like a pro in no time – then you can move up as your skills improve.  But make no mistake, the game doesn't back down from its realistic presentation.  You'll feel every ounce of pressure as you come barreling towards the finish line with others in hot pursuit.

In addition to a single player campaign that will take you on a world tour, GRiD 2 will also come with a bevy of multiplayer options supported by RaceNet.  For instance, you'll be able to be set up with a rival that matches your skill level so you're not overpowered.  (You can also find new adversaries through direct racer challenges if that's what you prefer.)  As you race against rivals and beat them, you can take their NPC followers – mostly fans – and add them to your tally as sort of an insult to injury.  But be careful, because your fanbase is at risk as well.  The addition of weekly challenges is also a huge plus, as new events pop up consistently and rivals and others daring you to beat them in full-fledged competition.

GRiD 2 supports YouTube uploads in case a particular event went in your favor and you feel like showing off.  DiRT 3 did this rather well a couple of years ago, so we can see this picking up equally in popularity.  Watching some of these races might just teach you a thing or two on how to race better as well.   (You can learn more about the multiplayer features through the official trailer here.)

GRiD 2 looks to improve upon the stellar example that the first game set years ago.  The refined driving once again makes a return, but with better flow for players of all skill sets to get into.  The presentation should be second to none when it comes to making you feel the rush of each race and the social features, between YouTube support and online challenges, promise that you'll keep coming back for more.

Give GRiD 2 a spin when it releases on May 31st for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.