SHIFT 2: Unleashed Preview
Need for Speed: SHIFT wasn’t perfectly simulated but it still felt great; sitting there in the cockpit of a car, attempting to learn the subtleties of both the track and the vehicle, and watching a race unfold with rapt fascination. Really, that in-cockpit view is exactly what driving fans require and despite a few small hitches here and there, the game proved itself to both critics and racing aficionados. Now, with SHIFT 2: Unleashed in the works, we look to developer Slightly Mad Studios to take the next step. Remember, while certain NFS entries like the recent Hot Pursuit are for the arcade-loving gamers, the new SHIFT series is designed to cater to the simulated fans and hence, it competes with the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza. Furthermore, EA has been vocal in their confidence of the upcoming sequel; in fact, recent comments make us think Unleashed will be very, very special…
The game in question won’t be about a ton of cars and a huge number of varying events and flashiness; it’s more about the experience itself. It’s about getting behind the wheel and feeling what racers feel; it’s about focusing on the invigorating terror of hitting an unknown track at ridiculous speeds. It’s almost surprising how involving SHIFT could be, and EA and DICE are promising an even more intense and immersive experience for the second quarter of 2011. Featuring an all-new rendering engine and a serious graphics overhaul, the sequel should look significantly better than the original installment. Furthermore, although we can guarantee it won’t control much like Hot Pursuit, the Autolog in the latter title will be included in Unleashed. This nod to social gaming allows friends to compete against one another as they push forward in the career campaign.
The team will also work to implement even more realism in regards to the in-cockpit driving. For instance, the crashes will be even more authentic this time around, as you will see more damage in other vehicles on the track, and the special effects should be clear and in-your-face…or rather, through the windshield and in your face. On top of which, we’ll get a new helmet camera, which should be a helpful driving aid: it will automatically look into a corner as you approach, which is of course how real drivers behave. The improved physics engine will reflect collisions and vehicle reactions more realistically, which will certainly enhance the experience. However, while the dynamic style of that helmet cam can’t be denied, we are a little concerned about its functionality. Might it sort of get in the way…? Or will it really improve our visibility and assist with the turn?
While we have our reservations, we have faith in the designers; we’re almost certain it will work correctly. It’s just something with which we’ll have to become more familiar. The inclusion of the Autolog should bring in even more driving fans, too, as the profile, gallery, wall, and friends list are a super huge part of the Hot Pursuit gameplay. If you visit the game’s official site, you’ll find they’ve provided us with some highlights: it boasts “insanely detailed real-world cars, drivers and tracks,” the ability to “choose the path that fits your own personal racing style” in Career mode, and “almost limitless options for customization from engine to body, suspension and much more.” For the most part, SHIFT 2: Unleashed appears to be a bigger and better incarnation, and that’s exactly what we want in a sequel. Keep those wheels handy for this one next year!
12/2/2010 Ben Dutka