Shift 2: Unleashed Review

Shift 2

When I sat down to write the review for Shift 2: Unleashed, I couldn’t think of what I wanted to write. Nothing I put down really was able to convey what I wanted to say. So, I figured there was only one recourse: 


Just like other ones I’ve done, the transcription will be below the file.

Click here for direct access to the audio review file


First of all, first turn-off: as soon as you turn the game on, you go through the intro and everything, and there are two options on the menu screen: career and options. That’s it. Nothing else opens up until you play through the beginning of career mode. That bothers me. There are a lot of people with certain games that will just play multiplayer or online or just like to tinker around with other things before they get into the career mode. This game does not have that; it just has career and options. Not only that, but in a game like this, and I’ll explain why, it NEEDS a tutorial, it NEEDS some kind of background information or control practice, SOMETHING, and it just doesn’t have it. It bothers me.

As you start the game up, you get a little intro about racing and how great it is, how great you can be and all that, and then it takes you to a two-lap time trial where the better you do, the higher the difficulty will be when you play the game. It doesn’t tell you how to control the car, it doesn’t give you any tips or tricks, it just tells you to go. I found this to be very frustrating. I had no direction whatsoever. I’m not familiar with the Need for Speed series, and I didn’t play Shift 1 very much, so I’m not really familiar with it. I was hoping that when playing Shift 2 I would get some kind of background before I just went right in. No, it throws you in head-first, no direction, no nothing, and I don’t like that. It’s as if the developer is expecting the player to know how to play immediately.

Yes, it is racing: you just steer, brake, and you go really fast to make sure you’re the first one over the finish line. I get that. But this game’s controls are ultra-realistic, to the point where it was hard to turn. I thought I was cranking it all the way, but I would only go a little bit. Then, when I would do it again, I’d start to turn and then all the sudden, next thing I know I’m in the wall. I adjusted the options numerous times, but I just couldn’t get the steering down Maybe it’s too realistic, maybe it’s too arcadey, I don’t know. There’s some median that has to be reached in order to make it somewhat easy to steer, because I could not do it.

The races are all the same, it’s a typical racing game: street racing for money, which then can be used to buy new cars, so nothing new there. I did enjoy the online [component], I enjoyed the leaderboards like Hot Pursuit had, where you can log on and see that a friend beat your time by 2 milliseconds, but you want to crash that course until you beat your friend, then your friend has to match you. I loved that part of Hot Pursuit, and it’s back in Shift 2, which is cool if you can tolerate the game enough where you can get to the point where you can play it online. 

If you’re like me and you get frustrated easily, you have to keep going back to the career just to get through the beginning of the game. Why can’t there be a separate online mode where you go to play against other people? Why isn’t it there, why couldn’t I find it? Why, when I turned the game on, was it just career and options, and the career mode just threw you in without direction? 

Shift 2 reminds me of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm. The very first time I played it I wasn’t familiar with the Naruto series, and I thought I would start with Ninja Storm. That was a bad move because there was no training mode. I couldn’t figure out how to do the moves or any of the controls and I got frustrated with it. I’ll admit, I gave up on Ninja Storm a lot faster than I gave up on Shift 2 (due to it being a racer), but for whatever reason, Shift 2 and I did not agree in the least. I gave it a bunch of tires, I tried all these different things, I just didn’t like it. After playing Gran Turismo 5 last November and really enjoying what I saw there, I thought I’d get the same kind of experience from Shift 2 and I just didn’t.

Now, if you’re a racing fan and you enjoyed Shift 1, yes, the game is for you, but because you’re already familiar with it. You’re familiar with the control scheme, you’re familiar with everything that there is to do with Shift or with Need for Speed as a whole, so you can just jump right in and go and be good to go. Guys like me, who only play Gran Turismo and a little Need for Speed, we need a little more direction than that.

Now, the game may not have been focused on me; it might have been marketed to the people who are into Need for Speed and have been playing it for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean I should be alienated, or that the people who haven’t been playing it for a long time shouldn’t have a way to access it. That’s my main problem.

The graphics were great, it looked fantastic, and the sounds was there, the music was good, and the car sounds were realistic. Aesthetically it was very pleasing, but when you got down to the nitty-gritty of gameplay, the controls were really stiff and I couldn’t figure it out, even after making adjustment after adjustment. The fact that it just throws you in bothers me to no end, and the fact that I had no background whatsoever, but the game didn’t give me any background, was disappointing.

Unfortunately, Shift 2 did not sit well with me the way Gran Turismo 5 did, so for that reason I am giving Shift 2 a 3 out of 5. It does some things really well, and racing fans will have a good time with it, but if you’re not familiar with racing, you’re not going to enjoy this game.

This is Jason Fanelli, Associate Editor, signing off. UPC: 014633194852, 014633194845

3 out of 5


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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