When I put the Shift 2 disc into my Xbox 360 and drove around a couple of laps to let it judge how much assistance I needed I was expecting it to be a simulation. The good news is that it isn’t a game along the lines of Gran Turismo because I find them terribly dull to play. Instead, you get the feel of realism but also a very visceral experience as you jostle for position with your competitors round some very tough tracks.
New to this game from Slightly Mad Studios is the helmet cam which not only puts you in the driver’s seat but also right inside his head. The view tilts as you go round corners and looks at the apex of a corner. It’s realistic but may be off-putting to people that prefer to see what their car is doing. Of course, the standard exterior view is also available.
When it comes to the handling of the myriad of cars from standard models to supercars when you get to the GT3 and GT1 championships, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. If anything the cars feel a bit light and inconsistent when taking corners. You’ll get round them ok with a bit of practice, but also expect to get rammed off the road by your opponents which can be more than just a little aggressive at times. Luckily, crashes are actually a joy to behold, especially in helmet cam view as the colour drains from the screen and parts of your car fly everywhere.
Autolog is included in the game after its success in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Here you can see how you did against your friends but it’s not as streamlined this time around because there are so many upgrades and tweaks you can make to your car which makes the setup sometimes more important than how well you’re actually driving.
Shift 2 falls somewhere between arcade racing and pure simulation. If you’re looking for authentic GT3 and GT1 championships then you’ll be disappointed but if you want something less crazy than Hot Pursuit or Blur but not as sterile as Gran Turismo, this one is surely worth a look.
Shift 2 Unleashed gets 8 out of 10.
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Related: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Gran Turismo, Shift 2 Unleashed review on Youtube