Need for Speed: SHIFT 2: Unleashed Reviews

AuthorReview
b30118218
572,813 (396,429)
b30118218
TA Score for this game: 422
Posted on 11 April 11 at 01:03
This review has 24 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Introduction
Two years ago EA tried to reinvigorate the Need For Speed franchise, by taking a year out to have a think about what really would be the next great step for the future of one of their flagship franchises.
The step they took was to hire UK based Slightly Mad Studios to make what would become the first sim based racer in the series, and a racer that was a hit or miss amongst many gamers.
So two years on, have Slightly Mad managed to capture that audience they couldn’t seem to get in the first game, or did they lose their way and lose people instead?

Game Play. 7/10
As we all know Need For Speed is a racer, A racer that over the years as become notable for high speed cop chases and underground street racing, Meaning lots of different drag, drift and circuit events.
Shift 2 however takes all of these and somehow manages to make the game challenging for people that are new to racers and even the pro elite players, who play nothing more then say Forza or Gran Turismo.

The first shift game introduced a camera angle which was the first game to fully integrate the inside of any car that was in the game, and be able to make a motion effect, depending on what it was you were doing In the race I.e. accelerating, braking and even crashing. Shift 2 works on this by adding in even more motion effects and also by adding in the Helmet cam which Slightly Mad seem to be quite proud of seeing as they have it down as a feature on the Back cover of the game case.
The Helmet cam works I guess sort of how you would expect, your view is slightly more limited then if you was using the Cockpit view and also adds in a new effect that gives you the realism that you are driving the car yourself, The effect is that your driver will look in different directions slightly at different things I.e. Bends in the road or even a car about to overtake.
This view looks pretty but it can be a pain to race in though seeing as your view is obscured meaning cars are probably likely to ram into you when you think you are doing fine when in fact your racing into their line.

A major concern gamers had with the first game also was that they felt the games overall feel with the handling was very arcadey, and it seems to me that Slightly Mad went away listened to what people had to say and massively over tuned the racing mechanics.
But in my opinion I believe they went a bit way to over the top and made it too realistic for its own good, especially seeing as its supposed to be a game and not a proper driving simulator.
Of course though this means that I am in fact talking about when you crash or get crashed into in the game, no matter what happens you will ninety percent chance spin or lose some sort of control over your car meaning your going to lose a few places in the race grid.
Which brings me onto the next point in this review, and that is everybody loves a game with a challenge no matter how slight the challenge is or how hard that challenge is to overcome.
When you add the driving mechanic from this game and put it into a race with A.I that are relatively smart and will sometimes bash into you to make you spin or slow you down, then this game can get highly frustrating.
The reason I believe behind this is that with the first game it became very apparent very quickly you could ram cars out of the way and have maybe a ten percent chance of spinning yourself out meaning you could shoot straight to first and have an easy race.
Now with this game you have to race as if you it was real, no more bashing cars out of the way for an easy win, if you bash a car your going to spin or lose control most of the time. And even when you do race good, the A.I no matter what difficulty your playing on will always manage to stay relatively close behind you in case you make a mistake.
Now this mechanic is not a bad thing, but it really can get on your nerves when you lose control and lose a lot of places and know you’re not going to be able to pull those spots back in time.

Drift racing as also been massively changed since the last game where you could pretty much drift any corner you wanted and get insane high scores, this time they made it more lifelike with the help and Aid of Vaughn Gittin Jnr, it now takes real skill to drift around a track and score points like a pro, and I’m not ashamed to admit it but these are now my least favourite event types because I’m just plain bad at them.
No doubt though this mode will become a favourite amongst many gamers seeing as how lifelike it can be now, only bad thing about it is though, does a drift car really 360 spin from a stopped motion?

Overall though the changes that have been made to the game play mechanics relate to about fifty percent good and fifty percent bad, Its good there is now a challenge their but that challenge shouldn’t be ready to screw you over all the time, I won’t go out to say I’m bad at racers, I managed to get 900g from the first Shift ,but with this game, I won’t lie I find it hard to get into first at times, and that’s what makes me want to turn the game off.

Graphics 9/10
Everything about this games graphics have been enhanced, no longer is the Hud cluttered with lots of different stats or challenges, they stripped it down and made it more user friendly by just keeping what you needed to know on the screen, Exp, Lap, Place and Speed.

The games menus have been given an overall as well instead of just the square boxes you chose from in the first game, this game now features flashy menus, For example on the main game menu when your choosing an option your being rotated between many different fancy looking cars.

Even the career menu looks pretty good compared to again the old square/rectangle style from the previous game, this time you now have what look like Leaflet or handouts for events. Obviously these are made up but they all look pretty professional.

The cars all look superb but a part of me thinks that they didn’t really do much to enhance the graphics of the cars, instead I believe they used their time to work on a better damage modelling system, so when a car gets beaten to bits in a race, it will finish it looking like it came straight out of a battlefield game.
One thing that let me down though was their appears to be no windscreen cracks this time around either compared to the first game.
If you took enough damage or a big crash your window would either crash or just smash, like I say that appears to be out on this game but then again I may just not of noticed it or maybe it only happens when you have your damage setting set to the highest.

The Cockpit/Helmet views are where many a gamer will spend their time racing and when your on a straight doing over a 100mph its always good to look at your cars interior and notice all the time and effort that went into modelling it, The only downfall though is when you upgrade a car to works, they all come with the same dashboard interface. Seriously is their no other interface design you could use?.

The night racing in the game is a brand new feature in the game and it really is something to behold, granted you can’t really judge the graphics of the game when your zipping around a track in the dark with nothing but your headlights to guide you, But when you see that barrier ahead of you getting closer and closer, you start to feel like that is what night time racing would feel like if you was to be driving that car for real.

Onto the tracks of the game though and this is another area that Slightly mad appear to have worked quite heavily on, normally a track would appear to be quite dull and well grey, but in Shift 2 they all appear to have a sense of shine to them, from the cracks in the tracks from where and tear to seeing bits of other peoples cars lying over them from past laps, To just racing around the Nurburgring’s tight bends, everything looks amazing. Massive props to the team for putting in all of that effort.

The last little touch I want to name upon when it comes to the graphics is that, when your hurtling down the track at high speed occasionally you will see fly’s splatter onto whatever camera your using, It appears to be more frequent when your driving around in the car view outside, it may only be a small touch but its something that just adds to the detail and look great.

Sound and Music 8/10
When it comes to reviewing a racing game based off of sound it can be quite tricky as well apart from engine noises and music that appears in the menu’s, their really isn’t much else apart from Vaughn Gittin Jnr occasionally saying your doing well or not. So anyway ill do the best I can do to give you the low down on the sound,
The cars sound really good, but the main fall down where I’m concerned is that some of the cars can sound quite alike, sure your sports cars sound like your sports cars and your muscle cars sound like a tiger is about to break out from under the engine area. But in my honest opinion I don’t believe there are that many different car engine sounds to go around all of the cars the game has to offer. Meaning some will sound alike.

The music on the other hand is quite remarkable and something that I guess kind of slapped me in the face when I first started playing the game, because at the time I think I was ready to hear some upbeat dance worthy kind of songs, but instead I got met with some chilled out and quite tranquil remixes or some well known songs, And it all for some reasons seems to fit in perfectly, from waiting for the game to load up to customising your car it sounds great.

Difficulty 7/10
The difficulty of this game is my main concern, as I started earlier on in the game play part, the game just appears to have become a little bit to hard especially on some of the tracks and depending on the level or skill you have your handling and A.I on.
If you never played the first and never witnessed the arcadey feel to the game then you may feel a bit swamped at first, seeing as on any difficulty the A.I will be able to keep up with you and even bash you out of the way.

To all the other racing pros though this game may seem like a bit of a breeze if you have a steering wheel for your Xbox, like I said earlier though I was pretty good at the first game but this game really can infuriate me at times with how difficult it can be.

I’m not sure if they made the rubber band effect from the first game more elaborate in this and included it for all events instead of just the rivals, but just use this as a warning that you may have to replay certain tracks over and over again, Once your in first as long as you don’t make any mistakes you should be fine for the rest of the race, but getting to first can be an entirely different story especially with how the A.I like to ram you.

Achievements 7/10
The achievements for this game are going to be either a love or hate situation, they are multiple achievements with high gamer score for doing stuff that you would normally be doing in the career like defeating rivals and winning events, as well as levelling up all the way to 20.
But on the other side of the scale there are achievements that are going to take some serious time like playing online for a set amount of time and winning so many races online in a row to win a certain trophy, also the achievements for mastering corners and racing lines in not only the day and dusk tracks but also the night tracks as well.
For the average gamer who isn’t interested in gaining every achievement the game has to offer then I would say with a little bit of effort 700 gamer score would be pretty good.
And to all of the completion junkies out their, you are looking to be spending on the upwards of possibly 30-40 hours on this game.

Summary
Whilst Slightly Mad Studios managed to pull off a massive overhaul to the first game, some pieces of shift 2 feel unfinished or tested, mainly the difficulty but that could just be me having problems, sure its ok to finish 3rd in a race but I want to finish 1st for the big money.
Nearly every piece of the game has been improved upon whilst only managing to make a few small hiccups that can be patched at a later date.
Even though this game is good it still can’t compete with the likes of Forza, but this game is still one to watch because maybe just maybe in the next iteration of the franchise, Just possibly this could become the next best sim racing game out their.

Final Rating: 8/10

Written for XboxResouce.com slightly altered for TrueAchievements.

I know I missed some parts out of this review that some people may want more information about so please leave a comment and ill update my review with hopefully the answer.

First review for TA so please say why you negative voted me if you do and everything in this review is from my point of view and is not something that is set it stone for others to obey by
Given 4 stars by b30118218
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tehapo
102,364 (64,850)
tehapo
TA Score for this game: 1,813
Posted on 15 January 12 at 13:29, Edited on 15 January 12 at 13:43
This review has 6 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
(Warning - this review contains minor spoilers on the game)

Quick Summary:
This game is aimed at the racing community. If you're not really someone who's normally into this type of game, then Forza 3 or 4 is probably better to start with as it features loads more cars and is much more flexible on difficulty.
If you're a racer looking for a new game, this could be for you. Be warned there's bad handling, seemingly dead online, crazy AI and other problems abound. Go for under 10 hours to 500-600 gamerscore and the rest if you have the patience aren't too hard.
Overall IMHO I'd give this game no more than 5/10 (yes it's harsh), there's too much wrong with it for me compared to the competition.

Main review:
So here we have Shift 2, or Need for Speed: Shift 2 - Unleashed to give it the full title. In a way I've like to have seen this called "Shift 1.5 - PGR" or maybe "Shift 2 - Hooray for Drifting", read on below to find out why. My basis of play through consisted of playing with just TCS and ABS from assists as normal and from behind the car camera view with manual gears.
Let me start by saying I've been a fan of the NFS series for a long time. Fond memories exist of playing through Underground and Underground 2 when free-roaming started to become the norm. For me this was probably the best times of the current generation of NFS games. Games like Carbon and Undercover seem slightly meh for one reason or another. However EA have come along and aimed games solely at the racer, with Shift 2 and previously its baby brother in the form of the original Shift. However the game is coming out into an increasingly crowded market. Forza 4's arrival is punctuated by Formula 1 and the WRC making solid comebacks into gaming, while Dirt 3 rules the roost in other areas. So this game really has to be compared to the former (and even PGR4) and hit the mark, sorry EA you've missed it. Shift 2 is definitely better than its little brother (which I finished in under a week to 855G), but lags behind the competition elsewhere, as once you've finished the career mode, there's really not an awful lot of replay value.

Menus and Presentation:
In terms of the menu system which is the first thing the game presents, it's nice to see the Sumo R35 Skyline making an appearance and the race scene is fitting. However on the whole the menu system to me feels chunky, drab, slow and jerky. Moving multiple options at once seems to have a real jolt to it on-screen. Compare this to the likes of Dirt 3 or Forza 4 which are bright, clear and inviting, if not a bit mad in the former.
Saving and loading times for this game in the current era of racing games seem way too long. The game has an install space of 5.6GB on your hard drive, yet races still take a while to load especially the bigger such as Spa or the 'Ring. For this install space you get a nice selection of cars and tracks, but not much in the way of a crowd or interaction while racing. However the majority is an improvement over the former Shift which all felt a bit crazy. Presentation on the whole is improved, but still feels like there's room for improvement as well as content. Night racing makes a return, which I expand on below and that is carried out very well, toots of flame from the overrun in the exhaust lighting up the back of your car is a nice touch.

Game Modes:
The career type mode is the one that most people will go for any play through. If you play through a certain way there's a period of time where new races unlock where you won't need to pay a visit to the 'car lot' as the game will loan you a car for a series of time trials. This is a nice addition to the game rather than forcing racing for prolonged periods of time. However with this and the quick movement to the higher tiers you'll need few cars to get you to the end of the game as you'll also be winning some along the way. Night racing is included and poses much more of a challenge, even when you think you know a circuit. The latter Endurance race to get round 5 laps of the Nurburgring at night is a gem here.

Normal circuit races are here in both race circuits and cities. There are also time trials, drifting and a small amount of endurance events. This gives good variety, with each level of the career these are clearly laid out and you can pick your way through to a rival race. Getting to the level which unlocks the higher tiers of racing is a short process, experience gained is clearly tracked on screen without being intrusive on your view. GT3 and GT1 at the higher levels are a joy to drive in.
Career playthroughs in a deliberate manner can easily finish Shift 2 in under 10 hours (9 for me), which feels way too short IMHO. Difficulty affects progress somewhat as does the in-race prowess, racing lines and so forth. However the difficulty seems off in places. Some races on easy are hard, some on hard are easy, especially when comparing tracks and street circuits to drifting and time-trials.

Rivals feature again in Shift 2 and this time there's a lot to like about this. Real racers are involved as are the cars they drive in real life. Having some video of the people in question is a bonus, this is much more likely to draw in the knowledgeable crowds as faces are much more recognisable than someone talking over words on screen, good move there to keep things alive moving forward.
Quick race modes and Online as always are available, however at the time of writing appears to be completely dead, so can't comment on that really. Boosting may be your only option for sweeping up those online gamerscore points.

AI racers:
No game with racing would be complete without the AI. In Shift 2, the game uses a system which seems popular now to match the AI racers to your cars level, rather than the general level of racing. This means that throughout and as you upgrade so do the computer cars. This can lead to frustration in later races and in certain career aspects spoil the game in places. This happened in various places where the ‘rival’ cars are generally fixed in difficulty. Hence if your car is maxed out and brings the level of AI cars up with it, you're no longer racing that rival, but the AI instead, mooting the point of the rival in the first place. Once you reach the GT3 and GT1 levels all the cars are equal and for the most part, the game loses any challenge at this point and good racing lines will easily trump the brake happy AI cars.

The AI in general is poor. Some of the time they will react to you as you'd expect. However most of the time you can be racing alongside an AI car and they will quite happily take a swipe at you to get at the racing line, off the track you go. This just wouldn't be allowed in normal racing situations. They also do this to each other noticeably, leaving massive pile-ups on the thin street circuits. To this tune, the AI seems on the most part to come off much better in any exchange, no matter how brief. An AI car can appear behind you with a tap and you'll spin, however in the majority the other way around and they just carry on and you'll still spin, frustrating and quite bizarre. This twinned with street circuits can mean a lot of restarted and frustrating races.

Handling:
There was much talk in the reviews I read of the game before play of the handling ranging from poor, to outright ridiculous. Having played the original Shift, things have improved this time around. However certain cars or certain tracks seem impossible. For instance, the first time driving a McLaren MP4-12C, it's incredibly difficult to keep it in a straight line on the Nurburgring. The GT cars all seem to behave well and handle great, but for the majority most cars seem to be drifting at speed at even the slightest steering input. Street circuits with their bumps seem to make the road cars suffer, to the point where it feels like you're driving on ice. This can be countered by slowing down, but the AI cars will fly past you while you're trying to counter a big fish tail experience at 150mph.

If you crash in the game (and you will) the screen will go a shade of black and white and the picture will blur. This is great as a novelty, but soon becomes majorly annoying, especially when the AI were to blame. You will struggle to see or know what's going on while the blur occurs. The most annoying iteration of this where you accidentally clip a wall, floor the throttle to get away from it, the back end steps out, repeat. Tunnels are another sticking point, literally this time. If you hit one and try to get away from it, you have to practically stop or you'll be stuck to it for a while.
Drift handling seems a bit hit and miss. There's some kind of auto steer system engaged, the key to the drifting being finding any car that suits your driving, I recommend the NFS RX-7 you win later in the game, plenty of speed and seems to handle without argument mostly.

Racing experience:
The first thing to say about the experience of this game is I love some of the tracks available and the night mode brings that extra bit of challenge, although day/night races aren't in. The likes of Brno, Donington and Brands Hatch bring real flowing and fast racing to the circuits. Other rarities such as Zolder and Oschersleben can be found here too. It's also nice to see that the real dashboard clocks from the cars are present on your HUD, something still lacking from the likes of Forza.
Once you are able to race in the higher ranks, the GT3 and GT1 cars are a joy to drive, sound excellent and handle like you'd expect. EA's move toward in car racing and the head-tracking etc isn't for me so wasn't really used, although it seems like the way forward. In a bonus to your view the entire HUD is flexible. It gives the feeling of being involved more, moving up and down and around with acceleration, braking and of course the crashes. It's nice to see an attempt made at Endurance races, however in Shift 2, there's no tyres or fuel to worry about, so essentially these are just longer than normal race (around 40-45 mins), which is a shame.

One aspect which is glitched and odd throughout the game is the track cutting mechanism. Whereas others opt for manual resetting of cars, forced slowing down when cutting corners or similar, Shift 2 simply issues a bunch of warnings and doesn't post your time. This is great in principle, but poor in practice. Some of the corners, most noticeably at Catalunya are glitched so even if you're on the corner you'll get a warning. Also the game takes no note of your speed and direction. For example, if a genuine mistake occurs and for whatever reason you're off track, or even the outside of some corners, you'll get the same penalty as deliberately cutting a corner. From this point of view the system needs a lot of refinement, not to mention that when the note appears for this, it's smack in the middle of your view on the screen for placement.

In line with the handling and the crashes, some of the racing is just stupid from the AI. Some of the crashes that take place are mass pile-ups. Watching replays you can see that these things in real life would have easily been avoided with some common sense, again some improvement needed.
Graphically the game isn't class leading, but is still good. There doesn't appear to be a lot of motion blur or similar while driving. This means that sometimes the action can feel slow, without that feeling that you are shifting at 150mph through the space.

Achievements:
There are a lot of achievements in this game most people won’t get. These include various 'Mastering' achievements for all the tracks. To date some of the tracks are glitched and getting these is very difficult. The TA ratios also include high returns for the $10m in game and owning a car from each manufacturer. To get to $10m will require some extensive additional gameplay, but can be boosted due to an in-game loophole for series racing.
In order to get the mastering achievements, the game will force a driving of the 'best line' for each track. This is disagreeable as racing games, especially those where racing is intense with lots of overtaking don't always take place on the 'best line'. Having this enforced for various things in a step in the wrong direction IMHO. Having said above with the glitched corners, your patience will determine whether or not you can get these achievements, not the difficulty.
On the whole, racing in the game takes no longer than say 6-7 minutes a race, 40-45 for Endurance. Career to 500-600 points can be mopped up easily in under 10 hours. From that it could take many more hours to produce the full 100%, especially the 10 hours online! A few more hours depending on how you've played the career mode for the most part could be an easy 800-900 points, but as above, this will depend on your patience rather than the difficulty.

Summary:
Shift 2 just feels a bit unfinished, in places almost like the studio were working to a time limit rather than smoothing out the creases. There's nothing really that's new being brought to the table, but the potential shines in places.
I'd like to meet some of the developers and game testers and ask them if they feel road cars really handle like they do in the game.
It's a wholesome racing game that just feels like it falls a bit short, if you can get around some of the odd handling, stupid AI and short lifespan, there are some great cars and some awesome tracks to enjoy. Best of all at the moment is that if can be picked up for a bargain price. Play through is relatively quick if you're looking for a racing fix, which is more of a specific racer than Forza with the lack of GT racers on the Xbox market, why not give it a try. For me, EA could do with moving this forward and focusing more on the GT aspect of the game, maybe with SimBin. With Forza covering road cars extensively, there's a gap for a really good GT racer with Race Pro a memory and GTR not available on the console. This game shows most promise in that area and could be that solution.
All the good points considered however, I can't give it more than 5/10, simply due to the glitches, problems and the nature of the competition, if not the real lack of any real replay value.

All the above is my own opinion having played through the game. It's intended to be concise rather than extensive and I agree some points will be missed along the way. If you have any comments they would be welcome. However if you disagree with the above please make a valid point rather than disagreeing altogether because of x, y or z.
(Flesch Reading ease of 68.2 ftw)
Given 3 stars by tehapo
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takk ferir
7,125 (4,580)
takk ferir
TA Score for this game: 858
Posted on 01 April 11 at 07:03
This review has 3 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Background
Yesterday I finally received my copy of NFS - Shift 2. After reading lots of previews and looking at all the teasers I was really looking forward to this game.

In the past I played a lot of racing games, mostly on the PC but with the recent purchase of a X-box I started playing Blur and now NFS-Shift2.

First impressions
The game starts with the same movie as seen on the internet many times and after some registration screens the game starts quickly. Before you know it your driving... the first race is the determine your experience and to give you a pre-set of game settings and provide you with cash to buy your first car!

After looking in the carlot I finally chose the D-class Audi TT 3.2 Quatro. Then .. your carreer begins!

First thing I noticed is the different reaction to steering compared to all other games I ever played. It feels more realistic then ever! Although I find it very hard to make controled corners by using the gamepad.

The cockpitview is awesome. It give a new dimension to the game. Seeing the view change when you enter corners, crash or even when you break hard (you see your head moving forward).

What is annoying about the game (or realistic...) is how easy you crash. If you touch an other car its very hard to keep your car in control.

NFS-Shift2 is an experience based game. At lvl 16 you can drive in the GT1 class. I was afraid that getting there would take for ages but after the first night I am already lvl 14 and GT1 racing is very close. Also the money you need to buy cars is not a problem. You earn enough to buy the cars your need.

Conclusion
Unfortunately I cannot compare the game with its direct compettitors but my first impressions of the game are very good, It is by far the most realistic driving game I played so far.

For single player this game will certainly keep me busy for a long time to come. Online play... I cannot judge at this moment. I played two online races, one ent fine but the other was a lot of crashing because people used other cars as break-assist.

Takk Ferir
(English is not my native language so sorry for the bad writing :) )
Given 4 stars by takk ferir
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