The original Need For Speed Shift was, in our humble opinion, the best Need For Speed game to date, and it managed to blend the arcade and simulation style gameplays better than anyone else. Now EA is back with Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed, and above all, we’re glad that they’re sticking with the same formula.
Shift 2 features the tried and tested racing campaign, where you race to unlock new cars and races, race some more, unlock some more. It’s the same old thing, and it works. You progress though your career, unlock faster and faster cars, get to race in more prestigious races. We wish Shift 2 could have tried something new, but there isn’t much to try since it’s a racing game and the system has worked for a long, long time. You can customize your cars with new mods, engines, transmissions, paint jobs etc. But all that is secondary compared to the gameplay, and we’re glad to report that Shift 2 sticks to a nice blend of arcade and simulation, perhaps a bit more on the arcade side, but for the most part, the driving is nice and has a great feeling to it. The AI has some issues at times, which can get frustrating especially when then bump you off the road.
There are all the cars you’d want to drive in a racing game, from classics to brand new supercars like the Pagani Huayra. All cars look amazing and are recreated down to the last detail. What’s better, there’s a progressive damage system on every car as well, where you’ll go from getting a few scratches to totaling your vehicles — just the way we expect in racing games these days. The race tracks available are likewise pretty, but personally, we actually prefer the fictional Shift 2 tracks than those rendered after their real life counterparts (maybe because we play so many racing games we know the tracks in and out). But our favorite tracks are those that can be driven at night, which feels like a whole new world when you’re racing at night. It’s something every racing game should try and feature from now on.
One of the new features is the new in-car camera angle, or helmet cam, which is the best way we’ve ever seen it handled in a racing game. You actually feel like you’re driving the car, as your head bounces up and down depending how the ride, and when you corner, the camera and view turns towards the corner, just as you would when driving a real car. Safe to say, it’s quite immersive and makes you feel like driving the car. The faster you drive, the more blurred the screen becomes, and while this might sound like a gimmick, it actually works pretty well to simulate the sense speed.
Overall, Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed won’t please the simulation fans who are geared more towards Forza and Gran Turismo, nor will it please those looking for pure arcade driving. Shift 2 is somewhere in the middle, and it’s about time we get a decent racing game in that spot.
Great visuals and car models
The in-car camera is groundbreaking
Some AI issues
Not as much replay value as in other racing games
Overall score: 9/10