The latest game in the Need for Speed series is here in the form of “Shift 2: Unleashed”. Part arcade racer, part racing sim, this game is going to appeal to a fairly specific demographic. This isn’t a fun arcade racer, even if it does try and wear that hat. When you get down to it, the controls and race mechanic dictate this is more racing sim than arcade blast. Slow into the turns, fast out of them and tight controls places this more in the “Moto GP” gaming series than say the “Burnout” series. It also differs from the “Need for Speed” racers in this same respect.
“Shift 2: Unleashed” sees you racing tracks in different cities to gain experience and in turn experience points. XP opens new tracks, cars and vinyls and is essentially the main reward concept in the game. Earn XP get more stuff. I liked this reward based system, such as the event objectives: perform a clean lap, beat lap time, lead for an entire lap, perfect corners etc. Doing all of these things adds to your XP count and in turn opens more up for you, it’s a clever way to add to the replay value.
Aesthetically “Shift 2: Unleashed” is really nice, though the frame-rate could do to be slightly better. Car models are sweet and there’s some improvement to the damage system fro the previous title. Though this title isn’t the best looking racing title on the market, there’s nothing here that’s so detrimental it’s going to ruin your time with the game.
The sound in “Shift 2: Unleashed” features the generic racing sounds we’ve all come to know, the roaring engines, soft metal / rock bands in the breaks and it also features the dulcet tones and video of racing driver Vaughn Gittin Jr telling you how to play the game. For true fans of the Formula D series, this is pretty cool, for the rest of us he might register as stopping the flow of the game.
Female Gamer Angle
There didn’t seem to be any gender pronouns used to suggest the game assumes you’re male, so that’s nice, even though the intro seemed to suggest all racing drivers are of the male persuasion. The narrator does say things like “sick man” “Nice one man” throughout the game, though this could be taken either way really. The driver where’s a full helmet so you can’t see the ‘player character’ as such. The pit girls in hotpants with giant boobs are there as one would assume they are in reality.
Overall “Shift 2: Unleashed” is a great game for those that love the more hardcore racing genre. This probably isn’t going to appeal to the arcade racer fan who is used to the drift filled mayhem of slamming the pedal to the metal with no thought for leading into bends and accelerating out. If that is your cup of tea you’re going to enjoy “Shift 2: Unleashed” because you get all that and the reward / upgrade system to boot. All in all “Shift 2: Unleashed” is a nice addition to the franchise, for me personally I enjoy the more loose racing titles in the “Need for Speed” franchise.