Graphics:
8.3
Gameplay:
6.6
Sound:
8.1
Control:
6.1
Replay Value:
7.5
Online Gameplay:
6.4
Overall Rating:
6.9
Publisher:
EA
Developer:
Slightly Mad Studios
Number Of Players:
1-12
Genre:
Racing


I am a huge fan of the intensity involved in white-knuckle street racing. And admittedly, few games embrace the vim and vigor of hotly competitive racing better than SHIFT 2: Unleashed . The follow-up to Need for Speed: SHIFT , which introduced us to a fantastic in-cockpit view and the singular fear and anticipation that accompanies the sport, strives to reach new heights of invigorated enthusiasm and style. Unfortunately, the completely unreliable and erratic nature of the driving, the overly aggressive (and borderline cheating) AI, and what feels like a more arcade-y experience than before, makes it unsatisfying in my eyes. It’s one of those games that has a lot going for it, and it understandably resonates with other critics and gamers, but I just can’t handle the instability.

Undoubtedly, the intricate detailing and effects are impressive, especially if you take the time to examine damage sustained by your car. They do a great job of designing each vehicle and crashes are more spectacular than ever; Slightly Mad also increases the amount and quality of special effects typically associated with racing. Everything from tire marks to fender benders to the thrill of racing at night is all captured nicely, and what you see from either inside the car or the new first-person helmet camera is beautifully designed. Only when you start to expand your scope do you begin to see some drawbacks; for instance, there are several tracks in the game that we saw in Gran Turismo 5 and…well, there’s no comparison. Still, SHIFT 2 looks good.

The sound features in-your-face effects and some fantastic radio work, which always puts you right in the midst of the ceaseless action. I’m not the biggest fan of the soundtrack but due to the intensity of the racing itself, all music tends to take a permanent back seat, anyway. I think the engine noise is exaggerated in some of the cars and I’m still not buying the audio that accompanies certain collisions, but the expended effort is obvious. Combining the meticulous detailing of the up-close graphics and the nerve-rattling special effects creates what should be a fulfilling race experience. There’s no denying that, despite a few small shortcomings, the technical presentation is top-notch, and that may be enough for certain players. It generates a jarring, violent atmosphere, and it works well…until you start to drive. I just don't get it.

Let’s start with the positive, and my favorite new feature: the helmet cam. It’s just another level of involvement and immersion and actually let me enjoy the game, regardless of all my dislikes and reservations. It’s such a unique view, primarily because it’s very close to a real driver’s view; the camera will actually shift in the direction of turn apexes. So when you’re hurtling down the racetrack, not only do you get the aforementioned realistic radio in your ear, you also get to see something similar to what a real-life racer sees. That right there is worthy of attention, and I don’t want to take anything away from the implementation of that feature. Provided they keep it for the third game, I’ll definitely be willing to try it.

And as made clear in the technical breakdown, cars reflect damage in a way that’s both authentic and downright frightening, so you’re always on the edge of your seat: you’re simultaneously trying to avoid a crash and secretly dying to see one. Furthermore, given the ramped-up aggression of every competitor and the fact that intensity is priority #1, you will always be tense. You will always be gripping the controller (or wheel) tightly. You will always come into a turn with several other racers, knowing you’re a hair’s-breadth from finding yourself in the sand, facing the wrong direction. Toss in the Autolog feature – everyone seemed to like it in Hot Pursuit and it works equally well here – and you’ve got an engaging, addictive racer.

…or so you might think. Look, I’m all for aggression but there are two gigantic issues I just couldn’t get past, regardless of my settings or event type. Firstly, the control- it’s just that much looser and worse, entirely unreliable and erratic. Virtually all the cars seem to over-steer, and you can never really predict how your vehicle is going to perform. It’s a bizarre situation, because the game is begging for more solidarity; we need that solidarity to appropriately cope with the insane level of aggression. This brings me to the second problem, which is the madcap racing of the opposition. They’ll often just shove you off the track; whether they do this on purpose or they just don’t acknowledge your presence, I don’t know.

But I do know that the instability of the racing, unpredictability of the cars, and over-the-top aggressiveness of the other racers is seriously vexing. It’s not that the AI is stupid; in fact, they show glimpses of borderline brilliance at times. But they can easily knock you off course – and that often means the end of the race – and get away without a scratch. In other words, there’s no consequence for them treating you like an obstacle that needs to be swept aside, and you know, you can’t behave that way. If you try it, you’ll just ruin your chances at crossing the finish line first. But I could almost withstand this if it wasn’t for the totally erratic control that never allowed me to gain a firm grasp of the gameplay. Maybe it’s because I spent too much time playing GT5. Maybe I’m letting that experience unfairly impact my analysis of this game.

I have considered that. But I’ve played all sorts of racers. I know SHIFT 2 is a blend of simulation and arcade physics. But here’s the thing- I had no trouble with the first SHIFT , I have no trouble with great simulators, and I have no trouble with great arcade-like racers ( Burnout , for instance). And for some reason, this just doesn’t click; the control is just off . The very first race is on Suzuka, which is a course I know like the back of my own hand; I’ve raced it dozens of times (both the short and long versions) with probably over a hundred different cars between all the GTs, and I’ve even seen races on that track. The bottom line is that no lap in SHIFT 2 felt or looked anything like I’d played or seen before.

It’s just too aggressive to be taken seriously; they took the violence to a height that actually detracts from the experience. The AI is smart, but quite capable of pissing you off on a routine basis, and the control for each vehicle is all over the place. It’s just too loose and too unstable. I liked the experience earned, which played to my role-playing sensibilities and really let me dive into some nuts and bolts (pun intended), and unlocking new events and new cars is always a blast. There aren’t anywhere near enough cars, to be sure, but the flash, panache, atmosphere and depth associated with customization and the Autolog saves the game from feeling bare. It goes without saying that the multiplayer can be stupid intense, especially if you run across highly competitive racers who just hate to lose.

Still, SHIFT 2: Unleashed needed to be reigned in. Get the leash out again, because these cars mustn’t throw temper tantrums at bizarre times, and our foes should be penalized for going all GTA on our butts. The technical presentation puts a smile on your face, the crashes are bad-ass, and the varying events are a huge bonus. And I can’t say enough about that helmet cam. But beyond that…this is one disc that very nearly ended up embedded in the wall. Lots of great stuff but this raucous attempt at racing needs some settling and organization.

The Good: Great technical detail and lots of flash. Good racing sound effects. Helmet cam is awesome. AI isn’t stupid at all. Multiplayer can be nuts.

The Bad: Background/course graphics aren’t as impressive. Control is erratic; vehicle performance is entirely unpredictable. AI’s aggression is annoying and goes un-penalized. Nowhere near enough cars.

The Ugly: “So…this is destruction derby, huh?”

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NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
10 years ago

The handling in Shift 2 is just horrendous. Luckily there are community mods for the pc version. My R34 actually feels somewhat like an R34 after i applied the mod. I feel bad for those who bought it for consoles seeing as EA will probably never bother with patching it.

Remember, this is the game that is far ahead of Forza 3 and on par with GT5. <rolls eyes>

kellett007
kellett007
10 years ago

I take it you are using a wheel on the pc? which one? I have the logitech gt wheel and love it on GT5. I might have to check this game out.

NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
10 years ago

I use a DFGT. In a way it makes Shift 2 tougher because the resistance is completely schizophrenic, its like my tires randomly hit patches of ice on the track.

No doubt i'll be playing GT5 again after Shift 2 so i dont have bad driving habits stuck in my mind.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

bad game.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Good game. Bad driving one.

PharaohJR
PharaohJR
10 years ago

DAMN LOL. thats crazy never thought the score for this would be so low. i thought it would get a 7.5 the lowest.

played the 1st one….. honestly i enjoyed Prostreet more then SHIFT. thats the last NFS i bought & if the series keeps going with the HOT PURSUIT or SHIFT route i wont be buying none untill i get something similiar to Most wanted or underground with sum sim type physics.

daus26
daus26
10 years ago

Yeah, but Prostreet was their first chance at trying to lean towards a more sim-type game and it was just really, really bad. I'm not sure if I'll ever give NFS series another chance at trying to be more sim, but if it has gameplay like the Underground series I would definitely be interested.

Underground 2 had the most customization for cars ever in a video game. I even think its a world record. There was so much customization in that game. Odd things you could customize that I can remember at this time was putting speakers in your car, smoke purges, hydraulics, and colored head-beams. Perhaps it doesn't need a lot of those things to return, but it was nice having a game that you could personalize so much to your cars.

PharaohJR
PharaohJR
10 years ago

yuh the driving physics for prostreet wasnt good. i cant lie though i actually enjoyed the presentation of the game i like how they allowed u to use the clutch with the controller.

if they just spent 2 years to make something similiar to underground or most wanted with gameplay not like pro street or hot pursuit but jus some type of physics where i dont feel like im playing burnout i know NFS would sell like crazy.

AcHiLLiA
AcHiLLiA
10 years ago

I would love it if they go back to the illegal street racing, the Underground series.

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

I had not looked into this game at all due to my dislike of the first. I just had a wild guess that this one would suck. Too bad I was right, I may not be in desperate need of good games right now, but it's always nice to have something waiting on the shelf. Guess I'll be looking elsewhere though, not surprised.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
10 years ago

Try Socom 4

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Been playing the beta, it's quite a bit of fun. It will have to be a cheap buy for me though as I'm not a huge mp guy and since that's about all there is to it, it's a $20 buy for me.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Not to take anything away from you Ben, as always, a thorough and fulfilling review, but for some reason, I just think that Arnold should do all the reviews for racing games. He just seems to have a much greater passion for it. I know he's busy with other ventures, but it'd be good.

Anyway, I keep meaning to pick up an NFS game, they just seem to be on the right track. Although when you've got a game that scores this lowly in the control mechanics, then it might as well be deemed completely shattered. Maybe the next one, whatever it happens to be.

On a semi-related note, did anyone else hear that apparently the OFLC has rated a new game called Burnout Crash. After Paradise, I'm very interested.
Peace.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

I disagree with your assessment. Ben is more then qualified to rate this game.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

He does have a greater passion for it, and he's probably better qualified to judge simulators.

But I can almost guarantee he would hate this…probably would've given it lower than me. 😉

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
10 years ago

They do what they want.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Max, I didn't say he wasn't qualified enough.

That's probably true Ben, but I generally find Arnold to be a tougher reviewer across the board. He'll outright blast any negatives to pieces, so I can well imagine what he would have done to this.

ArnoldK PSXE
ArnoldK PSXE
10 years ago

EA should be happy Ben reviewed this and not me. I got the game and I would've trashed it to bits. This is the absolute worst "sim" I've ever played. The Logitech compatibility is horrendous, the clutch is absolutely useless (and also works poorly), the physics are shit, the cars are poorly detailed, the physics (acceleration, braking, etc.) are also canned and pre-determined, the car stats are wrong (370Z has 306HP? lawlz idiots. Who the fuck gets paid all this money and doesn't know how to use Google?)…there's more, but I'll just leave it there.

Okay, no I won't: the soundtrack is awful, the game looks worse than the first (somehow), there are erratic framerate skips where the game, literally, skips 5-10 frames (very dangerous in the middle of a timed overtake, turn, brake, etc.), the cars sound nothing like what they should (having driven, owned, and have access to a large chunk of the roster I can verify the sounds are bullshit)…

So yeah, Ben was totally right. I'd have been a lot more harsh on the game. It's terrible.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
10 years ago

So now you know Lawless.


Last edited by Killa Tequilla on 4/3/2011 1:29:50 AM

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

That's more like it!

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
10 years ago

Seeing as how the PS3 version has garnered the lowest scores of all the versions thus far from what I've seen, this score doesn't surprise me much. I have the PC version, but I'm too busy with Shogun 2 to even touch it right now, so I can't give my thoughts on it. I really did enjoy the first one though.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

As did I. It's why after an hour of this game, I am so disappointed.

I can look past the graphics. I can forgive the track inaccuracy.

But if doesn't drive right…

… put a bow on it, for it's time to wrap it up!!

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

I was waiting for this.. and I am not suprised in the least with this score. It's a great review, and one that I am positive that Arnold would agree with.

Anyways, I will admit, that I was caught up with the hype surrounding this game. The videos and feature lists were impressive. Throw in the fact that I was pleased with Shift 1, and got the Platinum trophy, I went into Shift 2 with great expectations.

Needless to say, several of my lofty expectations were met one after the other. The damage modeling was impressive. The customization was in depth, and exceeded GT5 in several categories. The track list is full of some of my favorite locations that were not available in GT5.

Then came the driving. To put it simple, it's a mess. No matter the settings in the gameplay options (such as deadzone and sensitivity) the game felt worse then Shift 1. If Shift 2 featured the same physics model as the first one, I would have been more then thrilled, and put this game firmly into #2 position of favorite race games.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and I am stuck with a 60 dollar purchase that I regret. Shift 2 to me, is nothing more then a game that trumped GT5 in several categories, but left behind the most important facet in games such as this.

The driving. It's why I play titles like this, and I am sure that anyone who reads this does too.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Sorry, I would've reviewed this a few days earlier – to save you the $60, maybe – but I just had a lot of stuff to handle this past week.

FM23
FM23
10 years ago

Agree with everything here Max. yeah, Ben you took forever, now I have a piece of crap sitting next to my collection…dammit!lol

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Why I very, very rarely buy a game at release and never if I have the slightest doubt. Games I'm interested in but unsure of, always wait for the review.

jlch777
jlch777
10 years ago

I feel your pain MaxPontiac I too wasted 60 bucks aaahhhh!!! How come they release a game like this the physics are shit on top of that there like a 200 ms input latency. Definitely unplayable! Hopefully we will see a patch for this mess-_-.


Last edited by jlch777 on 4/3/2011 6:54:01 AM

thj_1980
thj_1980
10 years ago

so what you are saying is that this game is the complete opposite of Gt5

What gt5 had this game didn't
what this game had gt 5 didn't

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Ben – It's all good. I never hinge my decision on what a reviewer states, but I do listen to what this site has to say. I knew something was wrong by the lack of gameplay but decided to ignore it.

jor_anbu – I am frustrated with it but it's not without effort.

sha4dowknight05 – No. I am saying that Shift 2 does some things better then GT5 but fails completely when it comes to the driving.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Sure sounds sloppy with the poor controls and AI having their own rules. I already don't care much for car games due to the high level of repetitiveness, so when I read a review like this from a guy who admittedly loves cars, well, let's just say even the bargain bin won't lure me into buying this thing.

FM23
FM23
10 years ago

Man this review is dead one. This game is more competitive than GT5 and you can feel the speed, but GT5 definitely feels better and the cars/tracks are authentic. I still feel that GRID is the best of both worlds. Much is made about the graphics in this game…WHY?…looks like another other multiplatform game.

ArnoldK PSXE
ArnoldK PSXE
10 years ago

Double posting this for others to see:

EA should be happy Ben reviewed this and not me. I got the game and I would've trashed it to bits. This is the absolute worst "sim" I've ever played. The Logitech compatibility is horrendous, the clutch is absolutely useless (and also works poorly), the physics are shit, the cars are poorly detailed, the physics (acceleration, braking, etc.) are also canned and pre-determined, the car stats are wrong (370Z has 306HP? lawlz idiots. Who the fuck gets paid all this money and doesn't know how to use Google?)…there's more, but I'll just leave it there.

Okay, no I won't: the soundtrack is awful, the game looks worse than the first (somehow), there are erratic framerate skips where the game, literally, skips 5-10 frames (very dangerous in the middle of a timed overtake, turn, brake, etc.), the cars sound nothing like what they should (having driven, owned, and have access to a large chunk of the roster I can verify the sounds are bullshit)…

So yeah, Ben was totally right. I'd have been a lot more harsh on the game. It's terrible.


Last edited by ArnoldK PSXE on 4/3/2011 1:07:17 AM

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
10 years ago

you were far too forgiving of gt5 imo.

thj_1980
thj_1980
10 years ago

Arnold,

I have to say your review for GT5 was too forgiving as the guy above has said. But in all honesty, GT5 doesn't deserve 9.9 I know it might be a bit biased here but Gt5 wasn't the greatest. It had features that were missing and much much more to improve on. I feel what you have to say to this game is a bit hypocritical.

FM23
FM23
10 years ago

Yeah, I wouldn't say GT5 is 9.9 either. Shift 2 is definetly crap, but GT isn't a 9.9…well too me it wasn't. The races were non-competitive. I spent more time tuning and perfecting lap times than actually racing in competitive races, but then again…GT5 isn't a race game from what everyone says. GT5 definitely feels and drives better, but the adrenaline rush produced in Shift 2 is unmatched. If Shift 2 could handle like GT5 while still being brutal…Shift 2 would have been a clear winner. In the end, GT5 is on one side and Shift 2 is on another. Both are missing feautures that the other one incorporates. A blend of both would be perfect.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

I knew it. 😉

And shadow, you seem to not QUITE understand what GT5 offers. But I won't bother to get into it.

Imagi
Imagi
10 years ago

The original un-patched GT5 got a far too easy ride. What would the current version get now that many of the issues that other reviewers commented on have been addressed and many the bugs have been ironed out…15 out of 10?

Qubex
Qubex
10 years ago

Fairly disappointing to see EA screwed this one up. As mentioned by Ben, and from what I have seen from all the media harvested from the game being played and demoed, it does look pretty.

What a shame it doesn't have the GT5 simulation engine… what a pity really.. I thought EA would have really wanted to try and challenge GT somewhat but it looks like the failed. Helmet cam looks good from what I have seen… I wonder if GT5 will ever add one in…

Speaking of GT5, anymore updates… I know there was one not so long ago, just wondering if the community know of anymore that may be on the way and what may be improved upon next.

"Shift2" may be worth a bargain bin purchase later…

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
10 years ago

Well, we are just waiting for the update that allows us to save in the middle of races such as a 24hr race. Other then that, no news. Btw, what's
"Q!"
play.experience.enjoy""
supposed to be? I've ALWAYS wondered, hope im about to find out. 🙂

Wissam
Wissam
10 years ago

This is his eternal sig. and I rike it.

___________
___________
10 years ago

why is it always the developers with the biggest mouths who end up turning out the biggest steaming piles?
oh well, another to chuck onto the dont write checks with your mouth that your game cant cash pile!
🙁

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

They are hiding something. Slighly Mad was obviously hiding plenty with their embargo on reviews and by the lack of putting game play videos out there.

leatherface
leatherface
10 years ago

this game is piece of SHIfT

Wissam
Wissam
10 years ago

Nothing touches GT5. remember that next time boys.

thj_1980
thj_1980
10 years ago

Uh, Gt5 has nothing against it's competitors. It's missing a lot that other great racing games have. GT5 feels like a beta. It has to get updated constantly because in all honesty it feels like an incomplete game.

FM23
FM23
10 years ago

GT5 isn't the end of all racing games. If drives good and feels perfect, but the competitive edge is lost in the racing which makes this game getting boring after your done experimenting with different cars and car set ups. GT5 fans try to make this game seem awesome, which it is, but it isn't the best race car game ever as you do more tuning and beat lap times than actually participating in fast competitive races.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Lowering the Performance Points makes GT5 a much more competitive experience FM23. Yes, it's a bandaid, but it is HIGHLY effective.

daus26
daus26
10 years ago

I don't understand what you mean by competitive FM23. Are you talking about aggressive A.I.s like in shift, or just a simple challenge? As much experience as I have in GT5, the game can be as tough as you want it to be. At the same time, it can also be as easy as you want it to be. People get mixed up between the two and think they're too good, or too bad at it.

I don't know when's the last time you played the game, but try the Lamborghini seasonal event while it lasts. Play fair, and just see how hard it can be to reach 1st place in time.

Also, I can't argue with you that much of the time spent on GT5 is tuning and perfecting laps, but I also race a whole BUNCH too. I don't know why you wouldn't want to try and beat the A.I. with you being the "underdog." Every GT enthusiasts gives it a try and the thrill of being able to win is satisfying enough. I'm not saying you don't, but it doesn't seem like you're challenging yourself on the races.

FM23
FM23
10 years ago

Good point guys, I need to change my tires and decrease my horsepower because I'm cheating myself…lol Trust me, I love GT5 and I still play it.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Indeed.

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