Game Rant's Dwayne Holder reviews Shift 2: Unleashed
Electronic Arts and Slightly Mad Studios have had a successful run with racing titles the past few years. The original Need for Speed Shift didn't wow the sim racing enthusiast, but it was a quality title and made enough of a splash to warrant a sequel. A lot of people saw the potential in the Shift franchise and hence, the excitement for Shift 2: Unleashed, especially from those who were not satisfied with Gran Turismo 5.
Read on for our review to see if Shift 2: Unleashed delivers.
The main question on everyone's mind is, "how do the cars handle?" Control is everything in a racing game, and I will say that the car handling in Shift 2: Unleashed is an improvement from that of the original NFS: Shift. However, like the original, some tweaking will need to be done to fit each person's play style. When the game starts, you're greeted by the 2010 Formula D Champion, Vaughn Gittin Jr., who is also your coach throughout the game. He gives you a Nissan GT-R R35 to try out the controls and after a tutorial, the game tailors the gameplay settings based on your performance.
These settings can be changed at anytime, and trust me, you will have to change them. Cars tend to slide too easily with the default settings, and players will have to go out to the main menu options and adjust the steering sensitivity and deadzones to their liking. Once I adjusted these settings to suit my play style, I had a lot more fun on the track.
Shift 2 does a good job at introducing gamers to the control options, but leaves them to figure out how to use them best. It's frustrating at first, but after some experimentation you'll be on the podium in no time. Speaking of experimentation, a lot of practice will be needed for the Drift competitions. Drift has been improved in Shift 2 and while it's a lot more difficult to play, players do still have a Formula D champion to help them out. Vaughn gives you a Nissan 240sx and a tutorial on drifting. Afterwards, players get to keep the car and a large open hangar lot is made available via the 'Quick Race' menu for future practice.
Just like its predecessor, Shift 2 offers a leveling mechanic which does away with the good vs. evil branches of the first game. These levels unlock the eight main events as players progress. At each new level, players unlock new cosmetic items such as rims and vinyls for their cars, as well as bonus cash. In some cases, players will be rewarded with new special cars. Experience points can be earned by performing various actions on the track like drafting and completing a clean lap. The single leveling system is a welcome change from two paths from the previous title. It streamlines the game (in a good way) and allows gamers to play as they feel and not towards a specific goal. Experience and cash can be earned online however, a lot more of it can be earned during the career.
On top of the racers' experience points, each car also has an experience bar. With every upgrade, the bar increases until it hits the 'Works' threshold, and it's at this level where players can add high level mods to their vehicles. The game also prompts the player before they install a mod that will push it into a new racing class. Altering the class of a car will make it unavailable for certain races and it's great the game tells you before it's too late. In the event a class changing mod is installed, it can easily be removed for later installation.