I feel like the name is longer than the time I’ve spent with the game. This game I thought I was a fan of. This series that I thought was on the rebound. I questioned putting this game in a future Void post, but I felt like I spent enough time with Need For Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed to give a fair viewpoint.
When EA sent me Need For Speed: Shift two years ago, the bar was understandably low for the series. The franchise was dry on ideas, but high on saturating the market with arcade racing games. Shift was a valiant attempt at a more sim-like racing game.
It also doesn’t help that the racing-sim genre is going through an awkward phase. A phase both shmups and fighting games have gone through in the past decade. What’s unfortunate about this game [whose name I refuse to repeat] is that it is as interesting as it is forgettable.
The presentation is off-putting. Where the original Shift was a welcomed breath of fresh air, this self-touted extreme and totally in-your-face racing sim, promises that the game will be a labor of loud love. Gone is our British voice-over couch pushing us across the finish line. But chastising the original Shift was something that was necessary. It’s unfortunate that the corrections made in this iteration wasn’t all for the best.
The original had a sterile feel, that emphasized coming in first required battling the game’s uninspiring over-steering and under-steering mechanics. Shift 2 Unleashed‘s driving physics lies between steering a melting ice cube on a tilting pan and a brick taped to asphalt. A step back, indeed.
There were an overabundance of AD/HD-like choices abound in Gran Turismo 5, making some feel claustrophobic by the litany of branching paths. The player is firmly planted in a direction in this new Shift game. This makes the game oddly suggestible to RPG grind-fanatics. There are plenty of options for upgrades, paint colors, which the game can’t help but inform the player each time they finish any race. Occasionally, updates are given in an obnoxious cut-scene featuring a driving athlete with all the charisma of bald tires.
When I played the original Shift two years ago, I thought the game’s had HUD and steering mechanics had problems, but overall a good foundation to build from. Now with Gran Turismo 5 out and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit making quite the impression on the casual gamer, I’m wondering where Shift 2 Unleashed and racing games are headed.
There are plenty of racing games out there, and that’s kinda the problem isn’t it? There are too many. In the time it took me to play this game and review it, Motorstorm: Apocalypse and Dirt 3 were released. Giving the consumer options is one thing, but shoving game after game into a crowded market may be the racing genre’s Achilles heel.
Shift 2 Unleashed is fun. It has problems and if you’re reading this, then you probably have already made up your mind. What I’d like you to walk away thinking is, what happens to games like this? They aren’t bad. They aren’t overtly interesting. We don’t get off of work and think, “Man I need to get home and play that one racing game sequel.” I’d easily pay for a discounted copy, which I’m sure there are plenty of. But I’d rather pay for a game that took more time between releases and read the audience rather than assuming where the genre is going.
A genre, I feel, is losing it’s way with each release.
I give Need For Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed...
The “Nic Cage As Superman” Award