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== SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED ==
Shift 2 Unleashed is the 17th title in the Need For Speed gaming franchise that has been developed by Slightly Mad Studios and has been published by Electronic Arts. Shift 2 Unleashed is a racing game that is available for the PC, PS3 and the Xbox 360 console. Shift 2 Unleashed in my opinion is one of the weaker games from the Need For Speed franchise. Its the first Need For Speed game I have played that looks like a weaker version of Forza or the Gran Turismo games. Previous games in the franchise have featured a really good story as well as some brilliant gameplay but Shift 2 doesn't offer a great story to the game. In Shift 2 your character is never seen but a world champion racer helps you to master the ways of real racing. Shift 2 Unleashed is a game that aims to give the gamer a proper feel of how racing games should be and what they entail. It gives the full feel effect of driving. Shift 2 Unleashed pits the gamer starting from the lowest of ranks of the world tour with the weakest cars on offer and as you progress your aim is to become the best with the help of a former world racing champion. The Need For Speed games have always been about street racing in my eyes and I feel with all these types they have gone way off track with the franchise.
=== GAMEPLAY ===
The gameplay isn't all that bad if i'm honest but it is slightly different in some aspects to other Need For Speed games and one of the main things that have changed is the handling of the cars and the feel they give when your driving them. In previous games you could easily thrash round every corner without braking but Shift 2 requires a whole lot of braking and good timing as well. There are different difficulty settings for your driving experience but to be fair it doesn't alter the handling of the cars and that is what the real problem is. There are a total of 145 cars from 37 different manufacturers and most of the cars handle differently but they still feel awkward and make the game a little disappointing. The game also features 36 different tracks. There are also several different race types in the game including normal racing, drift racing, hot lap, eliminator and many more.
Shift 2 Unleashed also features a couple of new and exciting things. One of them is the ability to use a new camera angle in the game known as the in-game helmet cam which gives the gamer the feel and look as if they are actually in the car driving themselves. Also for the first time you can experience night racing like real drivers experience it. The game does feature a new handling model and this is where I was disappointed. You can also tune your cars like you did on the previous Need For Speed games but on this one it doesn't seem as effective and there aren't as many upgrades available. Impress rivals by finishing on the podium, compete in special events for money and even enter the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Unlock cars as you play through the game. Most of the cars can be edited to suit your style of play ranging from the insides of the car to the visuals of the car. Add vinyls and your own unique logos for online play or even career play. Nitrous is still a big part of the game but the game doesn't start with nitro and it only becomes available as you get further in the game. You can buy cars and sell your own unique ones. Also in the game you have a driver level and the more XP (experience points) you earn the higher level you will become. Higher levels mean better cars will be unlocked. Autolog is a new feature that puts all the information you need into one. Autolog also recommends certain events to challenge as well as other features to enhance your racing career
When connected to Xbox Live and playing the game you get the chance of having a personal online pass. The online pass is to give the gamer access to all the online features and bonus content that is available. It also keeps all your records. If you've played a previous Electronic Arts game then the chances are that you've already got an online pass and will know all about it. Enter the code to receive you updates and upgrades for the game. Overall there is quite a lot in terms of gameplay features for the game and most of the gameplay handles really well except for the cars. Its like most racing games, race against a set number of cars, win the race to progress and earn money and maybe even unlock new content as you go along.
=== GAME MODES ===
QUICK - Quick mode is another name for exhibition race. In this mode you can race against friends or compete against friends in a series of events that include drift races and elimination races. This game mode is very limited and doesn't last a very long time. However it is fun especially with friends.
CAREER - Career mode is the main mode in the game and it features the gamer taking on numerous challenges and races from the lowest ranks working all the way up to the very top. Start off with easy races with the much weaker cars and as you progress you earn money to buy better cars for the newer races and events. Overall this is the main mode and its not a bad one. The only downside is this mode isn't a massive one.
GARAGE - Garage is where all you cars are kept and they all can be viewed from this mode. You can also add bits to your car here with new visuals and also tuning your car is found here. You can also take a photo of your car and upload it to the web.
CAR LOT - Car Lot is where all your unlockable cars and other cars you currently own can be viewed. You can also buy new cars from here that can be used in all game modes available.
XBOX LIVE - Xbox Live game modes are much better and more fun for gamers. You need to have your Xbox 360 connected to Xbox Live via your internet connection and you will also need a gold membership. Play a quick match which automatically sticks you in someones game that is about to start. Browse games ready to start and join them. Customize and create your own matches to race against friends or other online gamers. There is also a game mode called Driver Duel Championship which features online gamers competing against each other on certain tracks.
EXTRAS - In the extras mode you can find numerous things such as game credits, online pass and even movies taken from the game. If you've played the previous Need For Speed games you can get bonus features from Electronic Arts!
=== GRAPHICS & SOUND EFFECTS ===
The graphics to the game are very good and are one of the best points about the game. All of the cars in the game are really well detailed to every point and they all look how they do in real life. Also the design of the tracks and the layout of them are really brilliant and most of them are identical to how they look in real life. The scenery in the game is also very interesting. In the day its beautiful but at night its really hard to see anything but its still top notch stuff. I was very pleased overall in terms of graphics. The sound effects to the game are equally impressive. All the cars are kitted up to sound exactly how they should. Also big time crashes sound amazing and almost life like. All these sound effects make the game stand out that little bit more. Also the music to the game is brilliant it features tracks from well known bands and its definitely the type of music that I call racing music. It features my favourite band 30 Seconds To Mars, it also features music from Rise Against, Biffy Clyro, Jimmy Eat World and The Bravery. Overall I was very pleased with both aspects to the game.
=== DIFFICULTY & LONGEVITY ===
The games difficulty varies like most games do. In this one your difficulty is automatically picked for you but if your not happy you can change it. At the beginning of career mode your given a test race which is 2 laps. There are 3 target times and which ever you finish the race in will be your difficulty level. Also different race types are different in terms of difficulty. By far the most challenging is the drift races. Its hard to master at first and takes real patience. Xbox Live gameplay difficulty varies and all depends on the skill of the other players. The handling of the cars can be difficult if your on a much harder setting but that all depends on the skill of you. Also the game length wise is very poor and withing 12 hours I had fully completed the game. Its a huge disappointment that games like this are cut really short.
=== ACHIEVEMENTS ===
The game features a total of 48 achievements and most of them are really simple to acquire. Most of the achievements require you to do certain events in career mode and also quite a lot of achievements are acquired through online play. Most of the achievements are just time consuming but are really simple to get.
=== GOOD BITS ===
*Lots of variety in the cars and they all look and sound stunning.
*Some brilliant graphics and sound effects come into play in this game.
*The game features some brilliant music tracks from some top quality bands.
*Some good multiplayer options and online modes available in the game.
*Lots of unlockables to find.
=== BAD BITS ===
*The game is a little repetitive but it is racing and it does get really annoying in places.
*The game can be very tricky in places and drift races need time to master.
*The main career mode isn't long enough.
*The price is a little expensive.
*There are better racing games available out there and they're cheaper.
=== FINAL THOUGHT ===
Shift 2 Unleashed is an okay game overall but there are much better racing games available on the Xbox 360. I would definitely say this game in the Need For Speed franchise is one of the weaker ones. Games such as Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo or even Project Gotham Racing all feature more cars and tracks and look equally as good as this and all the cars handle perfect in those games. The game manual is really weak for this type of game and it only offers a small amount of information, it does have a lot of support though.
I would recommend this game because its not that bad a racing game but I just think if it came in a different case I would never guess its a Need For Speed game. Its still a fun game to play even though there is better. I bought the game from my local ASDA when it was first released because they had the game on offer for £25 and the game is available on Amazon for £19.99 brand new or around the £18 mark for a used copy. I do think within time it will drop more in price because its still a fairly new game.
The game has an age rating of 3+ which is great. The game overall didn't impress me a whole lot and I wasn't very happy about the fact they went from street racing to this but thankfully Need For Speed The Run will be back on the streets and is looking better than all of the Need For Speed games. Shift 2 Unleashed is quite a bit away from perfection but it does contain some good bits. I would give the game a 6/10!
Review also on Ciao under the username: MrBrightside1987!
Shift 2: Unleashed (Xbox 360, PS3 & PC)
Tested and reviewed based on the Xbox 360 version.
Review by Ben Nacca
XBL GT: Darkeyes2k7 PSN ID: Darkeyes2k11
Not many game franchises can boast a collection amassing to 17 strong these days. In fact, regarded financially as the most successful racing franchises ever, Need for Speed has come a long way since 1994 and it wasn't without its ups and downs.
With 17 titles, some may say that the quality of Forza and Gran Turismo series are worth much more than the quantity of EA's racing franchise. That said, those games are obviously in a different league. They are sims, putting people on the track and putting everything from wear and tear to wind resistance into the fray. Cast your memory back to Need for Speed 2 on the Playstation 2 and that was what the Need for Speed franchise was about. It was all about customizing the cars, putting outrageous nitrous tanks on your vehicles and slamming off the walls in pearlescent sprayed cars. It was entertaining and there really wasn't much else on offer competition-wise.
After Slightly Mad Studios outing with Need for Speed: Shift back in September 2009, people could see the direction changing slightly. This was an arcade sim. Somewhere in the middle and despite being fairly well received, it was noticeable that the comfort zone was miles away for this game but it worked regardless. Obviously, flaws were present and it was in no way for contention with the giants that are Forza or the yet to be released (at the time) Gran Turismo 5.
This time, they are returning with Shift 2: Unleashed, dropping the Need for Speed title for the first time but still "part of the family" apparently. The idea is that "Shift" becomes its own brand name like Forza or Gran Turismo but is still part of Need for Speed family. So why do they need to? With the new direction that Slightly Mad Studios has gone with Shift 2: Unleashed, they are no longer this "arcade sim" hybrid nor are they arcade like at all. This is a racing sim, in direct competition with GT5 but can it keep up?
Ok, I will admit I was sceptical starting the tutorial lap, thinking it would be like NFS: Hot Pursuit or the previous encounter with NFS: Shift. After having my car slide out and slam into a wall, rattling my driver and vision around like mad, I decided to restart the event and take this with a bit more of an open mind. That is essentially what you need with this game. It feels like Need for Speed, but it looks like Forza, it has the depth of Gran Turismo and then EA's Autolog network gives the online its own magic.
The story mode is similar to the first title, where you earn XP and cash for racing well, being competitive and completing the events as they unlock. It feels engaging and especially the helmet cam that is now a different "view" when racing, it just increases the immersion so much. Now, I am a fan of "seeing the back of the car" view point with racing games. This cockpit stuff like in Project Gotham Racing (3 & 4) and Forza 3 are all nice, and I love the detail and realism they put into it but it just feels wasted. The steering wheel of a Ferrari F430 is not nearly as lovely as the car itself. However, this helmet view, where you see the visor and are pretty much in the car, your head moves, you lean when you go round corners, your head goes all fuzzy when you hit walls and crash badly...heard that word of mouth by the way, I am a fantastic driver on Shift 2... but regardless, what the developer has done is unlocked an entirely different perspective that no other sim game has really done before. Interesting.
The visuals for one are fantastic. From the tracks I have been on to the cars I have been in, they are all incredibly detailed and just look sublime. The night time driving is also a treat with the light effect being particularly well done so all in, it looks very promising. Shift 2 features some pretty slick menus too and as I mentioned before, keeps in trend the Autolog feature to connect with your friends. The entire game looks sleek and pristine, making it that much more enjoyable. I do think that when Forza 4 comes out this year though, Shift 2 will probably be left behind graphically due to new technology and extra development time etc.
Audio is always important with car games, purely because the more expensive they are, the more they sound like they have a cat under the bonnet, or maybe a small tiger. As bizarre as it is, these super cars and fancy flash sport cars have to be perfect in the sound department. They not only have to look the part but they have to sound it and I must say Shift 2 has accomplished that on many levels. Not only do the cars sound great but the ambience, the music on the menus... even the crash effects as you hear the metal tearing or the wheels rolling off (Ok, I wasn't that good to begin with I admit) but all in all, the sound is very well done and generally impressive. Kudos to Slightly Mad Studios.
Crash effects. Crash visuals. It is the one thing I was disappointed about with both Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5. You slammed into a wall at 150Mph and you might have a scratch, a busted head light and a slightly dazed but unhindered driver behind the wheel thinking "well that was silly!" It is not realistic, it lets those sims down because let's face it, we all have those times where we just want to see what writing off a Porsche looks like...without actually parting with real cash for it. Shift 2 has some fantastic damage effects that even outpace Forza 2. It just makes the game so much more realistic that you could, if not careful, be pushing a tin can over the line rather than your Audi R8.
The multiplayer is more of the same as NFS: Hot Pursuit for those who have played it. A facebook-esque hub called Autolog tracks your friend's times, your times, the cars you race, the people you lose to and so on. You can challenge your friends in the blink of an eye, set a time for them to beat and all sorts of interactive community options. The racing is pretty solid as well with no noticeable server issues but this is EA, do not hold your breath but thankfully they are better than EA Sports servers to say the least. FIFA fans , you will understand what I mean.
As for achievements, well like the sims of today, it is "reach driver level #" and "beat A. Driver" or win "X cup" throughout the list. Bit of variety with the community achievements but this should be a time consuming 1000 or platinum trophy to obtain due to the sheer amount of races you have to do. However, it is not an impossible 1000 and is by all means achievable. That's why they call them achievements right?
Impressive throughout with lighting and the vehicles themselves being a particular highlight.
The cars sound fantastic, the crowd sound amazing and the menus and ambience in the game are just great all round. Good effort by Slightly Mad Studios.
With plenty to do, lots of racing to partake in and multiplayer to explore after the campaign, Shift 2: Unleashed gives you plenty to do to earn your money back.
It's a racing sim now, so it is going to be targeting a different audience. The tutorial and difficulty system will help those NFS Faithfull's who are new to racing sims but ultimately, this will block out a lot of fans who prefer the arcade feel behind the wheel.
A solid list if a little bit time consuming but they will make you explore all the aspects of the game, aim for gold in all your races and beat those rivals that you make offline and online. A decent list but nothing too fantastic.
Shift 2: Unleashed has rightfully earned its placed as a racing sim. No longer an arcade racer, or even a hybrid, EA can now look to build on this success and establish Shift as its own brand, probably with Shift 3 next year or in 2013 I imagine. In the meantime, Shift 2 is a worthy rival to Forza and Gran Turismo and Slight Mad Studios can sit down with a smug grin on their face for accomplishing it.
This guide is the property of Ben Nacca and is for the sole use of www.lanraiders.co.uk and www.ciao.co.uk. No copying to other websites or other mediums without written permission first