Rolling up to the line with next evolutionary take on the "Shift" series, Electronic Arts and Slightly Mad Studios "Unleash" their 'Need for Speed.'

With a flair for the dramatic you will hear the line, "so you wanna be a professional driver" as you hit the career option from the main menu. Introduced by a banging entrance movie, you will learn about the non-stop battle between man and machine that is "Shift" racing. Developer 'Slightly Mad Studios' defiantly knows how to create a mood and even though we're only talking about racing game, excitement pulsates through every inch of 'Shift 2.' From the start of your engine to crossing the finish line, 'Shift 2: Unleashed' brings it.

Starting with a couple practice runs on the 'Suzuka Circuit' your driving skills will be analyzed to recommend the proper settings for your game. While you don't have to take their suggestion, you can pick and choose between the normal assortment of driving assists. Furthermore, you'll want to pay attention to the difficulty level and the "damage control," which can be turned on "Full" or simply "Visual Only." These are the most important tweaks that can change the dynamic of the game. Although nothing is set in stone, so you can adjust the settings at anytime. For me, I stuck with their recommendation and it work out flawlessly.

The gameplay is tilted on the simulation side, although its more racing simulator than driving simulator. Basically, the racing feels real, but the vehicles and their individual handling don't have the same rock solid feeling. Think of 'Shift 2' as "Forza-lite" with an above-average level of visceral exhilaration. In comparison, when it comes to enjoyment, 'Shift 2' leaps ahead of its competition. Sure, each game has their merits. However, I felt more compelled to continue playing 'Shift 2' thanks to its constant sense of progression and invigorating sense of competition (even if it wavers from time-to-time.) While it's not as slick as the "Dirt" series, 'Shift 2' does an excellent job spicing up what could have been a rather bland affair.

For your career you follow the typical "racing game" routine; earn money, purchase new rides and work your way up from the grass routes to the more prestigious races. The normal car class ranking system is in check, starting at #1, the D-Class, and working its way up to #16, the GT1 class. Each selection has several events to compete in that will keep you busy for hours. Leveling up XP, earning cash and hitting the next levels are the driving factors to keeping the player motivated. Broken down, 'Shift 2' really doesn't too much to innovate its career mode which is fine because the old standby “if it's not broken, don't fix it" can be applied.


In a exemplary touch you will be always aware of the XP you're earning thanks to the convenient tracking that is continuously being displayed on your HUD. You will clearly be aware of the obtainable bonuses along with all the XP earning spots on each track. Mastering each track is important, not only to move up in the pole position, but to get all those extra objectives nailed. For an example they include performing clean laps, clean overtakes, driving on the racing line, placing high on the pole, mastering each corner and more. All the additional extra's helps to keep you motivated, and more than simply playing a game, you will feel like you are always learning by guidance. Even if you don't finish high on the poles, 'Shift 2' is a satisfying enough just to be a participant.

Additionally the Autolog (which debuted in 'NFS: Hot Pursuit') appears to help 'Shift 2' become more socially acceptable. The Autolog is awesome, and for those who have played 'Hot Pursuit.' you already know the value of this enmeshed networking component. While it's not as flashy in its set-up, the Autolog gives you all the social features you would want to compete with your friends. Integrated right into your single player game, you will always know how you and your friends are doing within the game. It's really a thing of beauty and invaluable to the gamers who enjoy a strong sense of community.


'Shit 2' gains some additional marks for its stylized presentation, use of music and ability to create an atmospheric mood before you even hit the track. Oddly enough, 'Shift 2' is more ostentatious than most action-adventure titles. Down to the polygons, 'Shift 2' looks great, for the most part. Everything is super polished, sure some cars vary in quality, but that is bound to happen when you have this much variety. There are some other instances of jaggies sneaking in the rear view mirror, but this is a minor quark when most of your time is spend looking forward, concentrating on the road and the action through your windshield.

With headphones on, 'Shift 2' does a good job living up expectations. From the slightly cheesy “clips” that offer up some motivation to the alternatively sonic soundtrack, 'Shift 2' tightens up its package while still keeping some of its old self intact. The soundtrack might be the most impressive as it is effectively used to enhance the atmosphere. For artists expect to hear the following alt-rock jammers '30 Seconds to Mars,' 'Rise Against,' 'Stone Temple Pilots,' 'Switchfoot,' and more.

What's new in 'Shift 2?' well for starters 'Slightly Mad' introduces the new "Helmet Cam" viewing perspective that moves the players head like real driver would. This means genuine head-tilting when heading into turns and focusing on the perfect apex as you engage the asphalt. It's a topnotch ingredient that takes a little while to feel comfortable with, but once you do it adds another layer of subversiveness. Other updates include night racing (but no dynamic weather,) elite handling (for the elite racing purists,) on track tuning, and improved crash damage. Furthermore you can pause the game at anytime and watch the last 30 seconds of action and tryout some of the new game modes that include battling your friends head-to head, outrunning faster cars, manufacturer showdowns, and more.


'Slightly Mad' improves on the formula that made the first "Shift" game such a refreshing hit. Embellishing the high-impact racing simulation even further, 'Shift 2' proves enough appeal for both racing purists and casual fans. Done in style, you will likely be hooked as you drudge through its lengthy career or hook-up with friends via the ingenious Autolog feature. 'Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed' pulls onto the podium as a must have for all fan racing fans, this is one ride you don't want to miss.

  • Excellent appeal to both racing purists and casual fans
  • Constant feedback helps to motivate progression
  • Social acceptable; Autolog is back
  • Helmet Cam adds an extra level of immersion
  • Lots to do, lengthy career mode
  • Load times longer than expected
  • Some jaggies are poking around the edges
  • Difficult feels like it fluctuates
  • A Blended affair; not a true simulation racer
Quote: "Embellishing the high-impact racing simulation even further, 'Shift 2' proves enough appeal for both racing purists and casual fans."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 04.02.11

Similar Games: NFS: Hot Pursuit (9.0) | Forza Motorsport 3 (9.5)


Need for Speed
Shift 2: Unleashed

Electronic Arts

Slightly Mad


US Release
March 2011


PS3, X360

Players 1
Online MP 2-12
HD 720p-1080p
5.1 surround
D/L Content