In recent years, the racing genre has become somewhat of a minefield for developers and publishers alike. Finding a way to create a game that offers something new for either the hardcore simulation crowd or the arcade racer fans is a difficult task. EA has to be happy with the success of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit among the arcade fans, and are set to bring us a different sort of game when Shift 2 Unleashed is released next year.

In an effort to motivate fans who think that a game in the Need for Speed family can never offer a worthwhile experience to simulation fans, Simply Mad Studios has announced the three vehicles that will be available to those who pre-order a copy of the game.

There may be a mental divide between picking up Hot Pursuit and Shift 2, since they seem to cater to different audiences. Where Hot Pursuit seemed to emphasize adrenaline-fueled high speed chases, the teaser trailer for Shift 2 appears more focused on giving a realistic simulation of the intense world of competitive racing.

According to EA, the two games don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the social aspects of Hot Pursuit worked so well for the team at Criterion, Shift 2 will be carrying the tradition over:

“Launching in Spring 2011, Shift 2 Unleashed is the perfect simulation complement to the action racer Need for Speed Hot Pursuit which introduced a simple yet brilliant rivalry-generating technology called Autolog. This groundbreaking network had been carried over to Shift 2 Unleashed, connecting friends in head-to-head races and comparing player stats for the ultimate social racing competition.”

Apparently fans of racing may have a simulation game that appeals more to them than intimidating titles like Gran Turismo 5 or Forza Motorsport. EA has already discussed the failings of GT5, and if the already-announced vehicles are anything to go by, they certainly won’t be coming up short – where quality is concerned. To add a bit more incentive, customers who pre-order Shift 2 will have instant launch-day access to 3 exclusive cars:

  • Nissan Silvia spec.R Aero (S15)
  • Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV
  • Lamborghini Murciélago LP640

An interesting combination of vehicles to say the least, and certain to appeal to very different demgraphics. The Silvia is one of the most popular cars to ever be embraced by the tuning and performance community, and the Murcielago happens to be one of the fastest production cars in the world.

Shift 2 le 17 nissan s15 silvia specr ps

With cars of this calibre, it’s clear that Shift 2 is set to take on the top dogs in simulation racing, and the developers have already made it clear that they aren’t intimidated by the competition. It’s certainly nice to see Shift 2 taking pride in their connection to Hot Pursuit, while some had seen the removal of the Need for Speed name from their franchise as somewhat of a snub.

Hot Pursuit turned out to be a fantastically fun arcade racer, so if Slightly Mad can do what they do as well as Criterion, then 2011 is shaping up to be a good year for racing fans.

We’ll find out how much gas EA has in the tank when Shift 2 Unleashed is released for the xbox 360, PS3, and PC sometime in spring 2011.

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