Need for Speed
Shift 2: Unleashed
For those who missed out on the original
Shift, this is a series that tackles the realism of racing from a
different angle to the likes of Gran Turismo, Forza or any of the PC sim
racing games. Instead of focusing on realistic physics and precision
driving, the Shift series focuses on the sheer terror that comes with
driving an absurdly powerful car at 300km/h. This sets Shift apart of
other racing seriesí and is a component of racing that is rarely the
sole focus of a racing game, and it makes for an exciting and adrenaline
Players are able to make their way through a career guided by Vaughn
Gitten Jr., Formula D champion. This career includes both circuit and
drift racing, the layout of the career menus is well done. They are
simple and easy to navigate, none of this over immersion, living in a
caravan between races, itís just straight to the point, the way it
should be. The game also features some time trial and multiplayer modes
that are nothing out of the ordinary, they are there but you will most
likely spend the vast majority of your time in the career mode.
Shift 2 features most
of the cars that any Need for Speed should.
main new feature of Shift 2: Unleashed aimed at increasing the level of
immersion is the helmet cam, this is from the driverís point of view;
you can even see some of the lining inside the helmet. In theory, this
is an excellent idea; however, it wonít work for everyone in practice.
My experience of playing whilst in helmet cam was that it was very
difficult to judge the angle of the car. As the car approaches a corner
the helmet cam turns towards the apex of the corner, this occurs before
the player even begins to turn the car, and can provide a feeling that
you are losing control of the car. Fortunately, this view is not
compulsory and therefore does not detract from the game for those who
donít want to use, but is a big bonus for those players who enjoy the
camera view. The game also features an ordinary cockpit view as seen in
the original shift.
helmet cam can make it difficult to judge the angle of the car.
most important aspect of any racing game is the handling of the cars;
this is something that Shift 2 doesnít quite nail. The cars donít feel
like they have any real weight to them and seem to float around the
track. This is definitely a double edged sword, this makes the cars
feel, well weightless, but at the same time adds to the thrill of the
racing by making it feel as though you have very little control over the
car. This adds to the whole experience of what Slightly Mad Studios
were aiming for, an edge of the seat racing experience. Even though
this loose handling adds to the lack of control, this lack of control
will take some time to get used to, expect to be crashing a lot to begin
with and just generally having a hard time of it, this will pass
racing can be pretty intense at times.
Fortunately there are a number of settings that can be tinkered with
regarding the handling, and there different skill levels too. I started
playing with the experienced setting as the game recommended, but soon
found the controls were too sensitive with a Dualshock 3. Once the
skill was dropped though it all felt much better, this setting is
probably left for those with highly accurate thumbs or steering wheels.
Playing with a Dualshock 3, I felt as though the throttle and brake was
digital, not analogue like a car should be, there was a definite sense
of the all-or-nothing principle at play. The car would either not do
anything or would be revving its guts out.
Drifting is a mode in Shift 2 that I found myself being drawn to,
despite it taking some time to get used to the way the car drives, in
particular coming to the realisation that the game automatically
counter-steers. Once this was realised, and taken advantage of the mode
became much more enjoyable. Although the helmet cam makes this mode a
little easier than the traditional cock pit view, I found it too
difficult to know exactly where I was going and what was coming up,
there is too much of a disconnect between the actions of the car and the
helmet view. Within drift mode too there are some big jumps in the
scores you must obtain; an example is every time you are on the London
track you must get scores massively higher than any other course.
London is a good drift track, and you can get better scores than on most
others, but the difference still seemed to be far too big.
customisation is present, and is deep enough that serious tuners can
spend hours tinkering with dampers, spring rates ala Gran Turismo or
Forza. It is also simple enough that someone who just wants to race can
pump some cash into the car and be just as competitive. There are a
range of parts available for each car and a few body kits, and if your
car reaches a high enough level it is eligible to get a Works
conversion, making it a fire breathing track machine. The interior
upgrades change the cockpits too, and of course the external mods change
car customisation can help create some truly unique cars.
Graphically the game is a real stand out, the car models look fantastic,
inside and out, and with some level of customisation to both the inside
and out is a real stand out of the game. The tracks look accurately
recreated and the scenery looks good enough, not that you will really
notice at 200 km/h. Night and dusk races in particular look awesome,
the sun makes it difficult to see and navigating a track at night can be
very daunting and cause you to question where corners are much more.
Shift 2 runs absolutely flawlessly in 720p and no slow down was
experience during play even a whole bunch of chaos all over the screen.
Fitting in with the rest of the game, the effect of the crashes is very
full on, for some reason the driver briefly can only see black and
white. The screen also shakes and the screen goes blurry, this is
overall a good touch and adds to the intensity of the game. Especially
when travelling at fast speeds and the cockpit blurs and your vision
automatically become drawn to the road ahead. Unfortunately this can be
frustrating, sometimes small collisions with other drivers will cause
the above effects, and just feels out of place, this is rare but can
really take you out of the experience.
will want to turn those speakers down, especially if you have close
neighbours, Shift 2 is loud, very loud. The cars growl and snort like
wild animals, and sound great, but oh so loud. The cars sound like they
should, perhaps slightly exaggerate which suits the game perfectly.
Tyres squeal excessively, engines sound like they are about to explode,
collisions produce a huge thud, itís brilliant. Shift 2 also apparently
features a short soundtrack, in complete honestly, I didnít even notice
any music at all while racing, the other sounds overpowered them
those looking for something a little bit different to other racers this
could be the answer, Shift 2 provides exciting arcade feeling racing
that revolves and intense circuit style racing. For those willing to
overlook a few minor issues and they are willing to be patient with the
handling will find a truly satisfying, albeit terrifying racing game.