The folks at EA seem to be milking the Need for Speed series for all it’s worth lately. Shift 2: Unleashed is touted as the most realistic racing simulation to date. This title absolutely lives up to that hype, but not without it’s quirks. Gentlemen, start your engines…
In career mode, EA promised to fix the AI with this release. In the first iteration of Shift, the opposing drivers seemed hellbent on putting your car out of commission as quickly as possible. You were pushed so far out of contention, that if you couldn’t take the lead from the start, you were pretty much destined to come in last. Well, you can tell they tweaked it a little bit, but I think it may be for the worse. When you start career mode, you’re warned to respect the other drivers on the track. Let me tell you, they don’t respect you or your driving at all. The cars will hold the best line at any, and all, possible costs. Prepare yourself to get bumped, spun out, and repeatedly rolled over while trying to hold that line. Even in easy mode, I found it difficult to work my way up through traffic.
The game offers a few disciplines of racing: there’s straight up racing, time attack, eliminator, and drift. Racing is pretty much self explanatory and time attack is a race against the clock; some of the time you’ll be by yourself on the track and sometimes you’ll be on the track with other drivers. That gets a little confusing. Even though you’re only racing against time, you find yourself still trying to race the other drivers as they’re trying to push you around the track. Eliminator is a neat mode; there’s a timer on the upper left of the screen and when it expires, the player in last place is eliminated. Finally we come to drift, which has to be the most frustrating experience of the game. They say that it’s a fine balance of acceleration and braking; it’s a fine line between high blood pressure, and flinging your controller through your TV. The cars in that mode are almost uncontrollable. Drift at your own risk…..
Online, this game almost takes on a whole new dimension as you can take on all of the driving disciplines against players from all over the world. I’ve spent countless hours online playing against drivers from all different countries. Online, this game is a ton of fun. There’s nothing more satisfying than talking trash to someone from across the world, after you’ve torched him on the track. Just make sure you can win if you are going to flame them.
Visually, this game is pretty impressive. It keeps up with all of the current SIM racers. There is only one difference; Helmet Cam. It’s a new feature for this series, and it’s pretty impressive. You get the feel that you’re really “driving” the car. However, it does come with a cost; the driver turns his head to the apex of a turn and usually that’s slightly before you should start turning. It’s a little frustrating, and it takes a little bit of time to get used to it.
The in-game audio is good. You get all of the normal racing game fare: the engine sounds, screeching tires, and crowd noise. The soundtrack quality depends on your preference in music.
Overall, Need for Speed: Shift 2: Unleashed is a title worthy of a purchase. I give it a solid 8 out of 10 rating.