Shift 2 Unleashed Hands-on Preview: In the Cockpit

  • Posted February 24th, 2011 at 12:07 EDT by Eric Blattberg

Shift 2: Unleashed has a bold slogan. “This is real racing” it boasts, as if to imply that recent racers like Gran Turismo 5 and Forza 3 are nothing more than meager knock-offs. Developed by Britain’s Slightly Mad Studios, Shift 2 Unleashed contains 145 cars from 36 manufacturers — not quite as many as its direct competitors, but still a hefty amount of horsepower. Based on my time with the game, it’s clear that Shift 2 does a superb job at placing players in the cockpit. Shift 2 isn't actually real racing, but that’s easy to forget while blazing around a bend at 100 miles per hour.

At Electronic Arts’ recent spring preview event, I had the opportunity to take Shift 2 for a brief test drive. Wasting no time, I turned on manual transmission, flipped off a number of assists, hopped into the driver’s seat of the first car that popped up and took off. Like the original game, Shift 2 looks best from a first-person perspective. In addition to the faithfully reproduced interiors of each automobile, the first-person camera actually presents the view from inside the driver’s helmet, shaking and bobbing in response to g-forces and bumps in the road. It’s smart, too, mimicking a driver’s vision by shifting slightly to provide a better view during turns.

Driving on a dimly lit night course — night driving is new in Shift 2 — I relied on my headlights to see me safely around the track. Naturally, I messed up on a few turns, car sliding sideways into the barrier. The screen desaturates when the car takes damage, the unpleasant absence of color a clear reminder to round that corner a bit slower in the future. Damage modeling in Shift 2 is outstanding; windows crack, tires thin and ultimately shred, and debris litters the track after a big crash.

When I wasn’t smashing into walls, I was fiercely fighting to pass the improved AI drivers. AI opponents are surprisingly aggressive, but not to a fault; they work hard to ensure you remain behind them, but not so hard that they wreck their rides in the process.

Where Gran Turismo feels smooth and clean, Shift 2 feels raw and brutal. The improved rendering engine allows for a superb sense of speed, the helmet-cam view mimics the behavior of a driver’s head, and the realistic damage modeling will tear your car to shreds if you’re not careful. The jury is still out on which game is a more realistic driving simulator, but it’s overwhelmingly clear which one offers the most visceral racing experience: Shift 2.

Shift 2: Unleashed races onto store shelves on March 29 in the U.S. and March 31 in Europe.

related articles

Related Content


Share With Your Friends!

The Facebook Platform

Connect to PSU's social reader to share articles and see what your friends are reading. [ More info ]

Related information

  • Related game: Shift 2 Unleashed

    Release date (US):
    March 29th, 2011
    Slightly Mad Studios
    Driving - Driving Simulator
    0 of 2,663 Games
    Up 0 places (in last 7 days)

Related images

RSS feed

Forum discussions


6,218,544 Posts | 194,392 members