Unleash your Need For Speed – Shift 2 Review
By otakuman5000 On 28 Mar, 2011 At 04:56 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThere is another Need For Speed (NFS) title out that deserves our attention. Unlike the last NFS title (Hot Pursuit) this one is not an arcade racer and has no sign of police sirens but is a very good simulation racer that can give Forza and Gran Turismo some competition. While this game doesn’t boast a thousand cars or a million race tracks, it does offer more than enough of both for the majority of race fans. There are plenty of race events in many classes that are available and different race types to keep things interesting and fair. All the cars can be upgraded and the visuals can be customized or you can use presets that are available.

NFS Shift 2 looks great and fairly realistic. The cars have detailed interiors and highly detailed exteriors. The interiors are all very realistic and all the gauges work perfectly unlike some of the other big name racers out there. The whole game can be played in cockpit view in every car and there is actually a helmet cam the NFS guys are pushing as the evolution of the cockpit. In helmet cam the driver moves their head and looks at the upcoming turns but can also be controlled with the right thumb stick to look around while driving. The lighting in the game looks really nice with shadows being done very well and even having multiple shadows from multiple light sources, the effect is very pretty in night races. Even in cockpit view the shadowing looks really nice, I found myself surprised a few times by the shadow cast by the steering wheel on the dashboard. There are many paint styles to choose from that all react differently in the different light conditions depending on the finish, so for everyone that wants a car that changes colours depending how the light hits it will be pleased. The tracks themselves are very detailed with crowds, buildings and landmarks scattered throughout. It is honestly a great view while racing in London England to see the Millennium wheel spinning in the background, touches like that make the game look more polished and thought-out. The damages on the vehicles are just a texture swap but the way it is done you can’t tell unless you go frame by frame like I did. The swapping effect works well for all cars and degrees of damage. An interesting mechanic employed by the folks at NFS is to have the screen blur and go grey when you crash, this does make crashing much harder to recover from and rewards drivers who avoid accidents. The severity of the blur and grey depends on how hard you hit the object, in helmet cam the drivers head also moves in response to the crash. Crashes themselves look stunning and it is possible to flip the cars, the easiest way is to have a tire dig in on some grass while the car is sideways. These crashes have parts falling off cars such as wheels, hoods and bumpers. These parts can also fall off if they are damaged enough during the course of the race as your car is speeding down the track.

The gameplay is exactly as anyone would expect from a simulation racer with a slew of options. The game determines the driver’s ability with two races at the start of the game, it is the only option available even before any events or online races can be taken part in. At the end of each race the game recommends several different options based on performance, these can be changed but the game does a good job at assessing the skill level and these can all be changed down the road as you become more comfortable with the game. These options include the difficulty level or the AI, the traction control, stability control, brake assist, damage type and abs brakes to name a few. These settings are applied to all cars, even the ones that don’t have these options built in by default in the production models and displays which systems are active and when by using the real world symbols below the speedometer. The driving is very similar to many simulation racers and good driving skills are a must to get a good position, going full throttle all the time will not work at all. The player also gets rewarded for taking corners properly, and following the best racing line as in-game XP that is used to unlock more and more events, so even not winning a race may net a large sum of XP if the driver was driving properly. Apart from standard racing there is also a drifting mode where players get points for taking corners while in a drift. There is a fairly extensive tutorial on drifting before even one event can be played to show the player how to do it properly. Most new events will have a video of a real world superstar talking you and explaining various parts of the game and these video can be watched again in the extras menu at any time. The AI in this game is very diverse with different drivers having different race styles, some will be cautious and brake to avoid hitting you on a turn and others will nudge you causing a spin out. The computer controlled opponents do also make mistakes on the track and will even break down, even if the damage is set to ‘cosmetic only’ for you. At no point even on the hardest difficulty have I felt that the AI was playing unfair or having an unfair advantage. A nice touch while driving is he use of vibration in the controller, different surface types will cause different vibrations to occur which is really well done. Driving over a brick inlay in the middle of the street with the right side of your car will make the right side of the controller vibrate and combined with the sound, it really feels like you drove over brick. So as far a solid racing experience is concerned NFS SHIFT 2: UNLEASED definitely delivers in the gameplay department.

The sound design in the game at first seemed to be broken but it was just different from other games. During races there is sometimes an announcer at the start of the race and usually there will be someone on the radio giving words of encouragement but after that point all you will hear is the engine and opponents. At first this seems odd and leaves you wondering what happened to the always high quality and diverse EA tracks while racing and then discover that it is actually important to hear the roar of your opponents engine as he tails you, it really adds to the stress level of taking corners perfectly with such pressure. The music is in the game though and it will play in the menus and during replays. Drift events are the only times you will hear music while racing but it’s not in the car but in the crowd, and will change pitch and quality depending on where the car is position from the sound source. The cars do sound really good while racing, if using a headset or high quality speakers it really adds to the overall experience and the cars will change sound depending on make and model as well as what modifications are on them. The realism in the sound department is top notch and combined with the gameplay and graphics really completes the experience.

NFS Shift 2 is not without its faults though, especially on the Xbox where I played it. Graphically there are no problems and the sound never cut out but the game suffers from fairly long load times, especially when it’s not installed on the hard drive. Other issues also arise when the game is not installed such as freezing on loading screen and the menus acting odd. Once I played a replay then hit the button to try again, the HUD disappeared in the game and at the end of the race the options available did nothing forcing me to quit to dashboard. Once the game is installed all these problems seem to vanish and the loading times are significantly shortened. Also the instructional videos would jump when the game wasn’t installed and again the problem was fixed with installing. The problems that occur when the game isn’t installed on the hard drive aren’t that frequent but frequent enough to be a nuisance. There is a reoccurring problem regardless of if the game is installed and that is freezing of the console when in the customize section too long or in the area where you buy cars. I had this happen on multiple occasions while fooling around with paint colours and rims or looking for a new car to add to my collection. A huge problem i also encountered was the ‘best line’ disappearing randomly, especially on night races, which is a huge problem since the majority of people will leave these on to learn the tracks faster and to have a fighting chance. This is especially bad when doing endurance races that take around 40 minutes to complete because the AI will be consistent and once you mess up it can be very hard to get back to the front. Also after endurance races cross your fingers that the game won’t freeze like it did to me, wasting 40 minutes of my time. There is no worse feeling then hoping that the game won’t crash or freeze when saving after that length of time.

NFS Shift 2 offers a great experience for all those people looking to play a decent simulation game and with its array of options has a potential to appeal to many people. You can spend hours customizing your cars to look just right or fine tuning them for each event. Novice drivers and experienced drivers alike can pick this game up and enjoy themselves as they go around the track and admire the scenery. The online racing is just racing, there is no special modes but theer is the ability to choose which cars players can use so the races can be even. There is actually an achievement for playing online for 10 hours and if the right players can be found it can be fun, if everyone is playing bumper cars it is not fun at all. There is also the Autolog feature that those playing Hot Pursuit would be familiar with, this allows you to share lap times with friends and compete for the best time on the board on each track. This game is actually quite beautiful when it works, the problem is that you will be frustrated to no end when it doesn’t. For a $60 investment this is definitely not worth it with the slew of problems listed above because no game should be sold this broken, if it didn’t freeze and have graphical issues then the game would be great but there is nothing worse then finishing a race and the game freezing before saving. So save your money for the leaders in the pack such as Forza and Gran Turismo and you will thank yourself for doing so but if you are really interested please rent it first, maybe 30 minutes with the game will change your mind.

About - I am a 44 year old Gamer/Geek/Otaku who has been gaming and watching anime since the late 1970's. I am a passionate otaku who loves all types of games, anime and comics. I have been writing about games since I was a young man. I am an entertainment retail expert and an avid game collector. You can always find me playing or watching something geek related.

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